We keep hearing about solar, staying cool in the summer, and the role solar plays to save on electricity.

Paul C Watson, chief strategy officer at NATiVE Solar, joined Studio 512 Co-Host Stephanie Gilbert to talk about green career pathways and solar jobs.

The average student loan debt is $42,600, per EducationData.org. Millennials saw a spike while student debt exploded with Gen Z.

What does solar mean for career opportunities?

“I’m glad you asked this. The reality is quite scarce. In fact, the US is in a shortage of skilled laborers.  We need plumbers, carpenters, electricians. While many are going directly to college, with little or no life skills, they end up graduating with debt and without a job. If you are a solar apprentice, journeyman apprentice, and certainly electricians are able to graduate from high school making six figures; but no one knows it.  So the opportunity is there, but limited resources.”

Are there local groups or organizations that are offering support for these skills or learn more about green careers or solar jobs?

Absolutely, Solar Austin initiated their ‘Pathways to Clean Energy Careers’ focused on diversity and inclusion. The fact is we have a lot of white males in the industry and we need to promote across all. Others include Alamo District Colleges for San Antonio, Green Careers Dallas, and we are working with Home Builders Institute and Home Depot on 12-week programs where folks learn basic carpentry and electrical skills to prepare them for transition. Oh, and I can’t forget to mention our military programs through Solar Ready Vets and Hiring our Heroes — this program works with active military to transition into green careers.”

What type of job opportunities do you see now at NATiVE, the industry, and potentially future green career pathways?

“Great question! NATiVE needs technicians. From apprentices to master electricians, we are looking for folks in the field.  In addition, we are expanding our services function. At NATiVE we offer three services: sales, installation, and O&M — the latter is of the greatest need. In addition, I mentioned to folks at Fort Hood a few weeks ago, the future of energy will have roles ranging from cybersecurity to software. IRENA is a great resource and I can expand more given time.”

Where can people go to learn more about Native Solar?

“You can go to NATiVESolar.com to calculate your savings with solar, request a quote, and take your power back with NATiVE Solar.”

This segment is paid for by NATiVE Solar and is intended as an advertisement. Opinions expressed by the guest(s) on this program are solely those of the guest(s) and are not endorsed by this television station.