February 2014
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from the Project Manager 
Joe Sarubbi



Quality Solar Training: What You Should Know About the RTPs


For those of us who live on the east coast, this will go down as "The Winter to Remember." Record snowfall. Flight delays. Winter storm namings.


Solar, however, has been setting its own records from coast to coast.


According to The Solar Foundation's recent jobs census, solar jobs grew in 43 states in 2013. Now at 142K solar jobs nationally, the U.S. solar industry grew at 10-times the rate of the overall U.S. economy.


In partnership with IREC, the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) is encouraging its members to recognize the significant value quality workforce training brings to the solar industry by signing a pledge to support and use quality training methods.


Just last week, IREC joined 20 other national business organizations in Washington, D.C. to share plans to ensure students and workers have the knowledge and skills they need for today's globally competitive workplace. Convened by ACT Foundation and the Business Roundtable, the newly formed National Network of Business and Industry Associations is coordinating cross-sector efforts to close the "skills gap."


Ivanpah, the largest solar thermal installation in the world, came on line in California's Mojave Desert. During peak construction from 2010-2013, Ivanpah created more than 2,100 jobs.


And it's only February!


The solar job census news gives all of us in the education and training business a reason to feel good about our efforts. In fact, it makes our work more important than ever. A skilled solar workforce means safer installations, reduced costs and satisfied customers.


At the same time, the nascent solar industry has had its share of hiccups, and the domino effect has been felt at some education and training institutions.


But like a sailboat adjusting its sails in shifting winds, the SITN has been able to stay-the-course. The network's Regional Training Providers (RTPs) have been the consummate team of experts who have adapted their programs to align with the rapidly changing demands of the solar industry. New instructors continue to line up for training. Institutions continue to develop new solar courses or integrate solar into existing curriculum. And individuals continue to be the benefactors by gaining meaningful employment in the solar industry nationwide.


In this edition of the Quarterly, you'll learn of the exceptional training and education that RTPs are conducting all across the country. You'll read success stories that spark ongoing enthusiasm about the solar industry.


As we move closer to spring, the March winds will remind us we cannot direct the wind, like we cannot always direct the solar industry; but we can adjust our sails.


Joe s esig   

p.s. The RTPs and their partners offer quality solar workforce training throughout the U.S. See what is happening in your community.

from the RTPs...
Northeast/Kennebec Valley Community College 


Code enforcement officials, electrical utility personnel and State of Maine electrical inspectors and solar PV professionals attended the first of its kind workshop on code requirements for solar photovoltaic (PV) systems at KVCC. The workshop was a collaborative effort by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) SunShot Initiative. More.   

Southeast/Florida Solar Energy Center
When thinking about solar energy, the Sunshine State may come to mind as being one of the leading states for solar installations. In reality, Florida ranks only 28th in solar jobs per capita, but 14th in solar resource.  Recognizing an opportunity and a need to train workers for an expanding industry, solar instructor Siggi Brocks and electricity instructor Harold Wilson developed the Solar Photovoltaic System Design, Installation and Maintenance - Entry Level program at Erwin Technical Center. Both Brocks and Wilson trained at the Florida Solar Energy Center. More.

Midwest/Midwest Renewable Energy Association


Solar Spring Training in the Midwest: Homerun! 



Minnesota and Illinois will become centers of solar training in the Midwest this spring. Through relationships built by the Midwest Solar Training Network  (MSTN), the Midwest Renewable Energy Association (MREA) is partnering with Midwestern organizations to host two regional conferences: the Solar Powering Minnesota conference in St. Paul and the Solar Powering Illinois conference near Chicago in March and April. More.

Rocky Mountain Region/Salt Lake Community College, Solar Energy International, Utah Solar Energy Association
Salt Lake Community College's solar training yard continues to grow thanks in large part to very generous support received from the PV and electrical industry within the Salt Lake Valley. "We are extremely pleased with the support from local industry," says Jennifer Saunders, associate dean of the Division of Continuing Education at SLCC. More



Solar PV Training in Spanish from the CA/HI RTP Mini-Grant Program 


Of the total employed workforce in California, 

28 percent speak Spanish. 

Of those, about half speak English with only limited proficiency. Recognizing the opportunity to expand employment opportunities for this large share of the population, Region 8 (California-Hawaii) SITN program launched a mini-grant program in the Fall 2013 to fund PV Installation courses in Spanish at three colleges. More

of note...

Looking for State-by-State Solar Licensing Information? Use IREC's Solar Licensing Database

  map of the USWith the tremendous growth of the solar industry and the continuing development of licensing requirements for photovoltaic and solar installers, this valuable tool is designed for policy makers, stakeholders, practitioners, students, consumers and anyone looking for solar licensing information in the U.S. 



Municipalities across the country have begun creating permitting checklists and more comprehensive guidance documents to assist applicants. Providing clear and accurate information to potential applicants upfront can be a simple and efficient way for municipalities to improve the completeness and accuracy of the permit applications they review. IREC created this two-page handout to introduce these documents to permitting staff and to provide some tips on how to draft effective versions for your own community.  

IREC recently joined 20 other national business organizations to share plans to ensure students and workers have the knowledge and skills they need to work in the modern economy. The newly formed National Network of Business and Industry Associations is coordinating cross-sector efforts to close the "skills gap." More

Are green jobs a thing of the past? Need supporting evidence against such rumors? Just take a look at the impressive employment numbers in the jobs census recently released by The Solar Foundation.
"What we need now is to put an end to the green-job-hype era and move into the age of green reason," says IREC's President/CEO, Jane Weissman. "IREC now declares February the turning point as we firmly set course for a balanced and responsive approach to matching quality training to the job market." 

In other words, industry has to be invited to the table for more than morning meeting donuts. More

Image: 123RF.com/donatas1205

The SITN has developed a suite of indispensable tools to strengthen and support the successful growth of existing training programs. They're especially helpful for trainers seeking to develop their own solar programs. 
Read IREC's Newsletters

The IREC Report
Connecting to the Grid
Small Wind News
The Credentialing Chronicle
The SITN Quarterly


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About IREC
The Interstate Renewable Energy Council (IREC) is a non-profit organization that believes clean energy is critical to achieving a sustainable and economically strong future. To pave this clean energy path, IREC works to expand consumer access to clean energy; generates information and objective analysis grounded in best practices and standards; and leads programs to build a quality clean energy workforce, including a unique credentialing program for renewable energy and energy efficiency training providers and instructors. Since 1982, IREC's programs and policies have benefitted energy consumers, policymakers, utilities and the clean energy industry. As of July 2013, IREC is an accredited American National Standards Developer. 

The Interstate Renewable Energy Council, Inc. (IREC) does not assume any legal liability or responsibility for the accuracy, completeness, or usefulness of any information, apparatus, product or process that is referred to or linked to in this newsletter. Reference to any specific commercial product, process, or service by trade name, trademark, manufacturer, or otherwise, does not necessarily constitute or imply IREC's endorsement or recommendation.