Five years after its creation, the Solar Instructor Training Network (SITN) is a landmark workforce development model with lasting solutions. As national administrator, the Interstate Renewable Energy Council (IREC) enabled the long-term vision of this U.S. Department of Energy SunShot Initiative, along with the creative cooperation of nine Regional Training Providers (RTPs) and their innovative instructors. Together, they championed vitally relevant issues in workforce development and solar training.
The RTPs changed the face of solar education and training in the U.S. Innovative training methods were advanced, such as distance learning and mobile laboratory modules. RTPs held train-the-trainer workshops and, in many cases, supplied training equipment and tools for instructors, mostly full-time and part-time community college instructors within their regions, to develop quality solar training programs. Across a five-year span the RTPs offered training to more than 1,000 instructor trainees and partnered with nearly 500 institutions/organizations. The cohesive Network provided training to more than 30,000 students.
IREC developed a collection of specialized resources for trainers and training programs, including a dynamic, interactive Solar Career Map updated late in 2015, the extensive Solar Energy Education and Training Best Practices Series, and the Photovoltaic Online Training for Code Officials. These resources continue to be indispensable to trainers developing their own solar programs.
IREC and the RTPs focused on the same goal: to build a highly qualified, well-trained, local solar workforce of PV installers and related occupations – to support the booming solar industry with safe, durable and trusted residential and commercial PV installations. IREC proudly reports that collectively, the SITN accomplished what it set out to do, and is by any measure a model of success five years later.
As the SITN comes to a close, RTPs that existed specifically for forming partnerships with regional institutions and providing train-the-trainer activities, are no longer functioning in that capacity. However, their high quality solar training is still available at their individual institutions/organizations. For information, contact them directly [see map]. For more solar training opportunities, check out IREC’s Clean Energy Training Directory.