Managing the realities of diversity and inclusion with solar jobs without a national consensus or support remains a challenge. This also presents an opportunity for Texas to accelerate solar jobs locally through vocational and work study programs to maintain energy security and build back grid resilience.
What does diversity and inclusion mean for NATiVE and solar energy jobs as a whole?
We began the journey with Solar Austin’s diversity and inclusion program in 2020 at a time when most companies were transitioning to remote workforces. In short, it was a lot more work than we had guessed. We had to establish a mentoring program, create robust training for folks not familiar with the space and even add capabilities for Deaf and Hard of Hearing when we hired Jason Shaw as a Master Electrician. Diversity, inclusion and recruiting a workforce in solar that lacks apprenticeship programs and state and national financial support was and continues to be a challenge.
What support is there to accelerate diversity, inclusion and even training for solar jobs?
Well, we have no national standards on solar energy careers. The Department of Labor failed to approve a solar apprentice program, but did approve wind. So then we turned to the state. It turns out without a national standard, even the Texas Workforce Commission has its hands tied on any financial support for training. Thankfully industry trade organizations and advocacy groups like Solar Austin, TXSES, IREC and SEIA have volunteered time and as we’ve seen Del Valle ISD and Opportunity Center stepped up in a big way to give us a platform for education and training programs
What is the roadmap for diversity and inclusion for NATiVE, other solar installers?
We have approached in a few rubrics. One is based on community engagement. Solar Austin provided a perfect platform for this with their Pathways Program. This has allowed us to engage low income areas and high impact regions like Del Valle. Then we look at diversity in race and physical capabilities. Green Careers Dallas is a great case study for engaging folks that have criminal backgrounds and looking for a second chance to enter a thriving industry. Hiring our Heroes brings diversity in expertise by engaging with our military service members looking to transition into professional careers, but maintain a mission-oriented and impactful career pathways. Energy security is big and maintaining our grid will take a diverse workforce of trade skills and problem solvers.
Go to nativesolar.com to learn more about solar careers and calculate your savings with solar, request a quote plus 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.