SEIA Sets Standards to Equip the Solar Workforce for Success

Renewable energy

The U.S. solar industry is expected to experience significant job growth in the coming years. By 2030, this thriving sector is expected to employ a staggering 1 million individuals. However, as the demand for solar energy continues to grow, it is imperative that we invest in training and supporting this burgeoning workforce. In the Interstate Renewable Energy Council's 2022 National Solar Jobs Census, a concerning statistic emerged – 44% of solar industry employers reported that it was "very difficult" to find qualified applicants. A historically high percentage according to the census. The need for well-trained solar workers has never been more critical, as they are the linchpin for ensuring the reliability and safety of photovoltaic (PV) systems.

Recognizing this need for a skilled solar workforce, the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) has taken a significant step forward. SEIA recently gained approval from the American National Standard Institution to develop national standards for the solar and storage industry. These standards are poised to revolutionize the industry by bringing greater consistency and quality to areas such as workforce training. The goal is simple but profound: to ensure that solar workers acquire all the skills and knowledge necessary to excel in their roles.

Industry Issues for SEIA Workforce Training Standards to Address

SEIA's initiative to establish standardized training is a critical advancement for the solar industry. However, for it to be successful, it must prioritize directly applicable technical training. This is not just essential for the growth of the industry but also for maintaining high levels of quality and consistency in solar workforce training programs.
Among the issues that standardized training should address, there are two key areas of focus:

  1. Quality Assurance with On-the-Job Training
On-the-job training, including in-house apprenticeship programs where individuals spend four days a week working in the field and one day in the classroom, is of paramount importance. It provides solar workers with real-world experience, helping them develop the skills and knowledge needed to excel. This is crucial for:
  • Safety: Solar workers often deal with high voltages, making on-the-job training essential for their safety.
  • Efficiency: Comprehensive, real-world training gives solar workers a holistic view of the solar system lifecycle, leading to lower operations and maintenance costs.
  • Performance: Well-trained technicians can identify and address causes of underperformance, ensuring that solar systems reach their full potential.
  1. Accessibility

Will White, Fluke Solar Expert, highlights that there are numerous opportunities for individuals looking to transition from low-skilled labor or the service industry to a career in clean energy. SEIA's standards should make high-quality solar training accessible and equitable to ensure that anyone willing to put in the effort can forge a viable career path in the clean energy economy.

A Guiding Blueprint for Solar Workforce Training Standards: NABCEP

In the process of developing SEIA standards, the North American Board of Certified Energy Practitioners (NABCEP) certification requirements can serve as crucial guiding principles. NABCEP offers the industry's highest certification program, developed by solar professionals for solar professionals. NABCEP courses are widely recognized as one of the leading workforce training programs available to solar professionals.

As part of its commitment to supporting workforce development, Fluke offers a NABCEP-registered training program focused on test and measurement. This program aligns with SEIA's standards and covers essential aspects of PV system commissioning tests, troubleshooting, and maintenance. It also provides comprehensive training on the proper usage of tools such as multimeters, clamp meters, thermal cameras, and insulation testers. Moreover, it meets the criteria for NABCEP PVIP certification, helping solar professionals master the use of these tools and testing techniques.

In addition to the NABCEP-registered program, Fluke offers several free online training courses designed to provide new PV maintenance technicians with a better understanding of critical concepts. Will White also emphasizes the importance of Fluke's two-hour class for Insulation Resistance Testing as a fundamental building block for PV maintenance technicians.

In conclusion, SEIA's efforts to establish national standards for solar workforce training represent a significant stride toward a sustainable and prosperous solar industry. These standards will not only ensure the quality and consistency of training but also make clean energy careers accessible to a broader range of individuals. By aligning with guiding principles from NABCEP and investing in specialized training programs like those offered by Fluke, the solar industry is poised for robust growth and the creation of numerous well-paying jobs across America.

If you want to explore further about Fluke's workforce training initiatives, including NABCEP training courses, you can find more information on Fluke.com. Together, strong national standards and comprehensive training will drive the growth of clean energy and create good solar jobs throughout the United States.