Obama Announces Program to Train Veterans for Solar Jobs

solar ready vets

These young people were among the first to complete the inaugural Solar Ready Vets program. Image: via Department of Energy.

President Obama recently announced a program, called Solar Ready Vets, which aims to train up to 75,000 people to work in the solar industry by 2020. Solar energy programs have been on the rise, as it is one of the best ways to generate electricity while reducing carbon emissions. The problem is that there aren’t enough trained workers.

Other programs have already started on the problem. A program began last year to train 50,000 people at over 400 community colleges across the country, and the Department of Energy has trained around 30,000 in the last five years, through their SunShot program.

The training will take time, which is good, because while the solar industry added 30,000 jobs in 2013 and 2014, they’re only expecting to add 36,000 this year. That’s still quite a few jobs, and very impressive job growth, but it’s important to keep in mind that, just because an industry is growing, doesn’t mean it can grow forever. Just ask anyone with an advanced degree who isn’t working in their field. Having the training keep pace with job demand is a smart move, and limiting that training to some extent will certainly help.

Solar Ready Vets will begin rolling out at 10 bases around the country, aiming to have vets ready to work in the solar industry once they finish their service. Transitioning to the workforce after serving in the military can be difficult, and too many vets struggle to find work in a country that is, supposedly, incredibly supportive of them.

Programs like this then, serve the country in multiple ways. They help support veteranss by giving them skills they can apply in the workforce as soon as they leave the military, and they support a growing field, which needs workers in order to keep up with demand and stay economically viable. A strong solar industry is also good for the environment, as solar energy is effectively infinite and about as clean and green as it gets.

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