Dr. Jerry Ventre — Lead Author
Engineering and Education Consultant, Former Director
Photovoltaics and Distributed Generation Division
Florida Solar Energy Center
Download PDF of Best Practices #4: Solar Content Integration
In developing and expanding the solar workforce, the question arises as to whether it is better to educate and train “solar specialists,” or it is better to provide supplemental solar knowledge and add-on skills to more traditional occupations. Focus group meetings held by both IREC and the Florida Solar Energy Center have shown that, by a two-to-one margin, industry representatives feel that the added-skills approach is the best strategy at the present time— or at least until there is greater certainty about the demand for solar energy.
For example, providing a journeyman electrician with the added skills to install PV systems may be more prudent than training a “PV installer” from the ground up. If the solar market declines, the PV installer may be out of work, whereas the electrician is still an electrician and can apply his broader talents to non-solar electrical work. Even in a stable solar market, workloads may not be signiﬁcant enough to keep PV installers fully employed.
This document examines options for educating and training individuals by integrating or infusing solar content into existing education and training programs. Options will be considered for a variety of solar occupations due to the current heavy dependency of solar markets and related solar jobs on federal, state, and utility policies. The recommended approach provides the needed instruction, while minimizing the effects of market volatility and job uncertainty.