Solar Jobs For Veterans: New Report Highlights Growth

by Tina Casey.

Fresh off the news that President Obama is making noises about withdrawing all US troops from Afghanistan, the organizations Operation Free and The Solar Foundation have released a first-of-its-kind report that offers returning veterans the prospect of civilian employment in the US solar industry. In a nutshell, the new report demonstrates that veterans are employed in the solar industry at higher than average rates.

That’s a note of optimism for veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, who in this generation have faced a challenging employment picture.

Renewable Energy. Solar Power. Veterans solar jobs (cropped) courtesy of Vetsinsolar.org.
Renewable Energy. Solar Power. Veterans solar jobs (cropped) courtesy of Vetsinsolar.org.

The new report, Veterans in Solar: Securing America’s Energy Future, is all the more significant in light of Republican leadership policy pushing for cuts in food stamps and other safety net services on which many veterans and their families depend.

Veterans Solar Jobs On Active Duty…

It’s worth pointing out that more than a few returning veterans already have experience with solar equipment on active duty, as the Department of Defense has been pushing aggressively to transition out of dependency on fossil fuels and into more flexible, logistically sensible forms of power. That includes bases here at home as well as forward operating bases and field maneuvers overseas, too.

Just a few notable examples in the latter category are the portable solar-in-a-suitcase and solar-in-a-backpack kits, a wearable solar powered “talking vest,” and micro-grid systems with solar input.

So in a very real sense, many veterans already have solar jobs.

…And Veterans Solar Jobs At Home

Just as the wind power industry has proved to be a welcoming home for the wide range of skills possessed by returning veterans (see here and here for example), the solar industry has been going above and beyond to offer new pathways to employment.

Since we’ve been pausing here and there to note things, let’s also note that the distributed nature of the solar industry mitigates against the kinds of social, environmental and economic stresses experienced by communities that are hosting fossil fuel “boom” operations.

The more community-friendly nature of solar employment dovetails with the Department of Defense’s emerging environmental stewardship mission, most eloquently expressed by the US Army Net Zero vision (yes, that’s what the Army calls it: a vision).

Veterans in Solar: Securing America’s Energy Future

The new Operation Free/Solar Foundation report is well worth a read in full (here’s that link again), but here are a few nuggets for now:

…America’s solar industry has grown by 500 percent since 2008, providing more than 13,000 veterans with job opportunities as of November 2013.

…veterans represent nearly ten percent of all solar workers at a time when more than 15 percent of veterans aged 18-24 are currently unemployed.

…growth in the industry is continuing: nearly 62 percent of solar companies that employ veterans plan to add more solar workers within the next 12 months.

In support of the new report, Congressman Scott Peters (CA-52) had this to say:

Our servicemen and women have made great sacrifices for our country and it is our responsibility to ensure that when they return home there are high-skill and well-paying jobs available. The solar industry offers our veterans a unique opportunity to use the knowledge they learned serving our country in a rapidly growing sector that is vital to both our national security and economic future.

Okay, so try not to fall asleep waiting for a Republican member of Congress to come out and support veterans solar jobs although when it gets down to governors Republican Arizona Governor Jan Brewer has stepped up in full support of an industry that supports our troops.

Otherwise, seriously, try to think of one Republican member of Congress and if you come up with something drop us a note in the comment thread.

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This article, New Report Highlights Growth In Solar Jobs For Veterans, is syndicated from Clean Technica and is posted here with permission.

About the Author

Renewable Energy. Solar power. Tina CaseyTina Casey specializes in military and corporate sustainability, advanced technology, emerging materials, biofuels, and water and wastewater issues. Tina’s articles are reposted frequently on Reuters, Scientific American, and many other sites. You can also follow her on Twitter @TinaMCasey and Google+.

U.S. Solar Industry Jobs Increase 20% in 2013, to 143,000

by Zachary Shahan.

Renewable Energy US Solar Industry Jobs Census
Renewable Energy wins again! US Solar Industry Jobs Census 2013

Originally published on Solar Love.

The Solar Foundation just released its latest US solar jobs census, National Solar Jobs Census 2013. The key finding is that US solar jobs were up to at least 142,698 as of November 2013. That’s about 20% growth since the last solar jobs census, which had data up through September 2012. Overall US employment grew 1.9% in this period, so US solar jobs grew about 10 times faster!

Aside from the above, here are some key findings from National Solar Jobs Census 2013:

  • 77% of the nearly 24,000 new solar workers since September 2012 are new jobs, rather than existing positions that have added solar responsibilities, representing 18,211 new jobs created.
  • This comparison indicates that since data were collected for Census 2012, one in every 142 new jobs in the U.S. was created by the solar industry, and many more were saved by creating additional work opportunities for existing employees.
  • Installers added the most solar workers over the past year, growing by 22%, an increase of 12,500 workers.
  • Solar employment is expected to grow by 15.6% over the next 12 months, representing the addition of approximately 22,240 new solar workers. Forty-five percent of all solar establishments expect to add solar employees during this period.
  • Employers from each of the solar industry sectors examined in this study expect significant employment growth over the next 12 months, with nearly all of them projecting percentage job growth in the double-digits.
  • Approximately 91% of those who meet our definition of a “solar worker” (those workers who spend at least 50% of their time supporting solar-related activities) spent 100% of their time working on solar.
  • Wages paid by solar firms are competitive, with the average solar installer earning between $20.00 (median) and $23.63 (mean) per hour, which is comparable to wages paid to skilled electricians and plumbers and higher than average rates for roofers and construction workers. Production and assembly workers earn slightly less, averaging $15.00 (median) to $18.23 (mean) per hour, slightly more than the national average for electronic equipment assemblers.
  • The solar industry is a strong employer of veterans of the U.S. Armed Services, who constitute 9.24% of all solar workers – compared with 7.57% in the national economy. Solar employs a slightly larger proportion of Latino/Hispanic and Asian/Pacific Islander workers than the overall economy.

Here’s more in a slidedeck shared by The Solar Foundation.

National Solar Jobs Census 2013 from The Solar Foundation

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This article, Solar Jobs Increase 20%, Rise to 143,000 In US, is syndicated from Clean Technica and is posted here with permission.

About the Author

Renewable Energy Zachary ShahanZachary Shahan is the director of CleanTechnica, the most popular cleantech-focused website in the world, and Planetsave, a world-leading green and science news site. He has been covering green news of various sorts since 2008, and he has been especially focused on solar energy, electric vehicles, and wind energy for the past four years or so. Aside from his work on CleanTechnica and Planetsave, he’s the Network Manager for their parent organization – Important Media – and he’s the Owner/Founder of Solar Love, EV Obsession, and Bikocity. To connect with Zach on some of your favorite social networks, go to ZacharyShahan.com and click on the relevant buttons.

50,250 New American Jobs From These Solar Guidelines

by Guest Contributor

.

WASHINGTON, D.C. – As a way to help bolster the U.S. economy, the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) today released a comprehensive new report outlining ways to create 50,250 new American jobs and save more than $61 billion in future energy costs by expanding the use of innovative and cost-effective solar heating and cooling (SHC) systems across the nation.

Prepared by BEAM Engineering, a Boston-based consulting firm which focuses on energy system design and implementation, this new, first-of-its-kind report provides a roadmap for dramatically increasing SHC capacity in the U.S. from 9 gigawatts (GW) thermal to 300 GW thermal by 2050 through the installation of 100 million new SHC solar panels nationwide.  Thermal energy is typically measured in terms of British Thermal Units (BTUs) but can also be converted to watts.

Today, approximately 44 percent of American energy consumption is attributable to heating and cooling.  According to projections by BEAM Engineering, ramping up the installation of SHC systems across America would allow the U.S. to generate nearly 8 percent of its total heating and cooling needs through clean, affordable solar energy.  SHC is the most efficient renewable technology for generating thermal heat and costs are as low as 6 cents per kilowatt (kWh) hour.

“Part of our challenge is to do a better job of educating policymakers – at both the state and federal level – about the enormous benefits SHC provides to American consumers and businesses, as well as to the U.S. economy,” said SEIA President and CEO Rhone Resch.  “If we’re successful, the payoff will be enormous in terms of future job creation and energy savings.”

Another big advantage of SHC, according to the report, is the positive impact it has on the environment.

“With ambitious targets and a smart, easy-to-understand strategy now in place, SHC can help to displace an estimated 226 million tons of carbon emissions annually.  That’s the equivalent of taking 47 million passenger cars off the road,” said Ole Pilgaard, who chaired the task force which helped develop the new SHC roadmap.  “Without question, this plan will benefit both our economy and our environment.”

In addition to creating tens of thousands of new jobs and dramatically reducing electricity costs, BEAM Engineering says the SHC roadmap provides a wealth of other advantages, including:

  • Saving $19.1 billion to homeowners, businesses, schools and government by deferring the need for electric and natural gas infrastructure expansion and repairs
  • Raising $2.1 billion annually in increased federal tax revenue through job creation and economic growth
  • Increasing America’s annual manufacturing GDP by $1.4 billion

“This is a common sense plan that’s good for America,” said Mike Healy, who serves as chairman of the U.S. SHC Alliance at SEIA.  “Smart, sustained investments in solar heating and cooling will also help to strengthen energy security in the U.S. by localizing resources and reducing our dependence on often-times unstable foreign energy supplies.  It’s a win-win all the way around.”

About SEIA:
Established in 1974, the Solar Energy Industries Association® is the national trade association of the U.S. solar energy industry. Through advocacy and education, SEIA® is building a strong solar industry to power America. As the voice of the industry, SEIA works with its 1,000 member companies to make solar a mainstream and significant energy source by expanding markets, removing market barriers strengthening the industry and educating the public on the benefits of solar energy. Visit SEIA online at www.seia.org.

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Guest Contributor is many, many people all at once. In other words, we publish a number of guest posts from experts in a large variety of fields. This is our contributor account for those special people. 😀

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Germany’s looming skills shortage

Germany’s Looming Skills Shortage | 16/11/12
by Siobhán Dowling

BERLIN, Germany — It’s a problem many other European countries would dearly love to have.

Germany, Europe’s economic powerhouse, is in the throes of a skills shortage. With the lowest unemployment level in two decades, firms are finding it increasingly difficult to find well qualified workers.

That’s right: In a world where millions of talented people are hopelessly idle, a shortage of qualified workers threatens Germany’s economic performance.

In fact, Frank-Jürgen Weise, the head of Germany’s Labor Office, recently warned that the skills squeeze could hinder the German economy more than the debt crisis.

According to the German Chamber of Commerce (DIHK) this is among companies’ biggest concerns at the moment.

“Every third company we surveyed said that they saw the skills shortage as one of the biggest risks to the development of their business over the next 12 months,” Stefan Hardege, head of the DIHK’s labor market unit, told GlobalPost.

Many sectors are hit, he explained, but companies that rely on engineering and other technical skills — the core of Germany’s powerful export economy — are particularly affected.

The problem is already costing a fortune. About 92,000 engineering jobs were not filled last year, leading to an estimated loss of about 8 billion euros, according to a study published in April by the German Engineering Association (VDI) and the Cologne Institute for Economic Research (IW).

The VDI says in March, 2012 there were 110,400 unfilled engineering jobs in Germany, an increase of 26 percent on the same month last year. The states of Bavaria, Baden-Wuerttemberg and North Rhine-Westphalia were particularly badly hit.

Meanwhile, there are currently 38,000 open positions in telecoms and IT, according to industry association BITKOM.

More from GlobalPost: Is Germany catching the euro zone virus?

There are several causes for the shortage, including demographic change; a failure to educate enough young people to meet industry’s needs; barriers to female participation in the workforce; and the difficulties that skilled foreign workers have had in moving to the country.

Executives worry that the problem will only get worse in future decades, as demographic change starts to bite. After all, Germany has one of the lowest birth rates in Europe. Over the next 50 years the population is expected to shrink by 17 million from the current 82 million.

By 2025, Germany will face a shortage of about three million workers, predicts Weise, of the Labor Office.

Industry has complained about the trend for years, and politicians are starting to address it.

In early June, Chancellor Angela Merkel gathered ministers and industry and labor representatives in the Meseberg Castle outside Berlin for a summit to address the shortage. It was the third such meeting she has held in recent years.

After the meeting, she said that one way to address the problem would be to create a proper European labor market. She pointed out that while Germany is searching for workers, many other countries are suffering from high unemployment.

She also said that education should be improved for young people with immigrant backgrounds, and that more needed to be done to make work more flexible for women, so that they can combine families and careers.

On women, Merkel has a good point, and one that has been the topic of vigorous debate. Many German women only work part time because of a lack of adequate childcare facilities. And while the government has pledged to provide state daycare places for 35 percent of 3-year-olds by 2013, implementation is lagging behind. Furthermore, critics warn that a proposed new state payment to stay-at-home parents, known as Betreeungsgeld, will act as a disincentive for women who might otherwise have sought work.

Currently, only 11 percent of engineers are women. And though more young women are now taking technical courses at universities, they still lag behind the boys.

Michael Sommer, head of the German Trade Union Confederation, also urged better training, saying that 1.5 million young people lacked proper qualifications.

“The complaints from employers and the government about the skills shortage is not credible as long as they don’t do more for the employment and further training of young people, women, migrants and old people,” he said.

Two-thirds of companies say that young people are finishing school without basic skills, according to Hardege, of DIHK.

Meanwhile there is also a lack of high tech graduates. VDI estimates that there is an annual need for 80,000 new engineers yet only around 50,000 are currently graduating from universities.

Germany has many programs to encourage people to study math, science and the like at university, but the drop out rate is around 50 percent.

Industry representatives want Germany to attract more skilled workers from abroad. Already, steps are being taken to loosen up Germany’s previously outmoded immigration system. Last year it opened up immigration from Eastern Europe, which it had initially hesitated to do, thus losing out to countries like the UK and Ireland who availed of workers from

Poland and other countries

Furthermore, the government is making it easier for highly qualified workers from non-EU countries to work in Germany, by reducing the minimum salaries that such immigrants have to earn once they arrive. Instead of the previous minimum salary of 67,200 euros, now very highly skilled professions such as doctors and engineers, can earn just 34,944 euros a year, while other skilled migrants will need to earn 44,800 euros.

The Education Ministry has also made the recognition of foreign qualifications easier. That is not only of benefit to those abroad but also to the thousands of foreigners living in Germany for years who have not been able practice the professions for which they trained back home.

Meanwhile the government is launching an information campaign aimed at attracting talent both at home and abroad. While the www.fachkräfte-offensive.de provides information to companies and workers in Germany, www.make-it-in-Germany.com is aimed at well qualified foreigners, and includes both job offers and information about working in the country.

At a recent launch of the campaign, Labor Minister Ursula von der Leyen warned of the problems that industries face.

“There is work there that is not being done, and there are orders there that are not being filled,” she said.

Economics minister Philipp Roesler, whose department is also involved in the campaign, warned that the looming skills shortage could be a “growth brake” for Germany. He said he wanted to see more skilled workers coming to Germany, adding:

“We will start further advertising campaigns in those European neighboring states like Spain, Italy and Portugal, where there is high unemployment.”

Indeed migration from those countries has already started to increase, due to the lure of Germany’s strong economy.

Yet Hardege of the DIHK says more need to be done.

“It is not that well known that Germany is looking for skilled workers or which workers are being sought, or what kind of possibilities for migration exist, and that it is being made easier and less bureaucratic than before,” he said. “So it is important that this is actively communicated.”

Many industry representatives would also like to see a points system like that in operation in Australia and Canada, whereby immigrants are selected on the basis of how their skills match the gaps in the labor market.

“A points system would certainly be the easiest and most efficient way because it is more flexible and less bureaucratic,” Hardege argues. “And it allows workers abroad gain an overview: can I come, can I not, what qualifications have what points? Furthermore, domestically we would be in a position to steer immigration based on the needs of the labor market.”

Yet German politicians seem to balk at the idea. After her summit Merkel said that there was no need for such a system when there was already a pool of labor available in the EU.

“We have freedom of movement in 27 countries. Everyone who has found or is looking for work can come to us.”

Read the original article here: This article first appeared on GlobalPost, June 25, 2012 and has been reblogged with the kind permission of the authour, Siobhan Dowling.

@SiobhanDowling

Berlin · http://siobhandowling.wordpress.com/

Dublin-born editor and journalist, reporting from Berlin, mainly for GlobalPost and the Guardian.

Tags: Economics, Germany, Jobs. Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , ,