Obama: Train solar energy workers

“Building a skilled solar workforce” will be a priority, said President Obama in a speech last month. The Department of Energy’s Solar Instructor Training Network (SITN) “will support training programs at community colleges across the country that will assist 50,000 workers to enter the solar industry by 2020.”

However, solar energy graduates are having trouble finding work, reports the Denver Post.

Hundreds of students intent on finding work in the solar energy industry have graduated from four-month and two-year programs at Red Rocks Community College since 2008.

But finding a permanent job today in the rapidly changing, competitive industry that is heavily influenced by public policy, may require grads to start their own businesses or even look for jobs in other energy businesses.

Most solar companies have only a few employees, said Troy Wanek, who leads Red Rocks’ renewable energy technology department.

“Graduates have found jobs manufacturing solar panels and are also prepared to work as installers,” says Clark Mozer, who directs the Electro-Mechanical and Energy Technology Program at Front Range Community College’s Fort Collins campus. Students learn a “tool box of electrical and mechanical skills.”

Find jobs for “green” graduates has been a problem in Texas, Michigan, Maryland and elsewhere.

Dreams of millions of “green-collar jobs” haven’t come true notes the Wall Street Journal. “Solar employment stood at about 93,000 in 2010. Two years—and a ninefold increase in solar power—later, solar employment had increased just 28%.” Wind power doubled but cut the number of workers.