California Solar Jobs to Increase 72% by 2015 - Education Critically Needed

A new report from the Centers of Excellence, in collaboration with the Solar Foundation and the Solar Energy Industries Association, takes a look at the solar energy industry in California, drawing some interesting conclusions on the future of green jobs across the state.

In a survey of employers, California's solar industry, currently accounting for close to 25,000 workers at 3,500 companies, is expected to increase up to 40%, by as many as 18,000 jobs by 2015. 5,500 of these jobs could be added in this year.

The Solar Industry & Occupations: Distributed and Utility-scale Generation report also looked at the availability of community college courses and programs educating potential employees for the solar industry in California. And here lies the challenge for the Solar Industry, in California, and many other states.

While community colleges statewide have responded adequately to solar employment demand, with at least 54 colleges statewide providing some type of training, they had difficulty finding jobs for some their graduates. The 1,700 to 3,300 estimated number of graduates competed for about 2,300 jobs.

Photo by Pixomar

The study found that the problem was not with the number of available jobs, but was due to a mismatch between the type of training offered by the Community Colleges and what qualifications employers really needed.

"What colleges need to do now is diversify their offerings to address other skills needed in the solar workforce" said Evgeniya Lindstrom, one of the report’s authors and the director of the Inland Empire & San Diego/Imperial Center of Excellence.

Up to now, colleges have created programs mostly for photovoltaic solar installers, and have met and exceeded the demand in the small-scale distributed solar generation market. What's missing, according to the study, are courses on the basics of energy production, power plant management and solar technologies needed for the utility-scale industry, which encompasses large-scale projects generating over 1 megawatt.

Small-scale, decentralized installations, is expected to grow the most, and add 8,000 to 10,000 jobs in the next 3 years. Large-scale projects generating over 1 megawatt, will add about two jobs for every planned megawatt of a project.

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Community Colleges Unite to Train Students for Green Jobs.
Solar Energy Jobs.
SAlternative Energy Jobs.