Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Solar industry growing rapidly; employers struggle to fill positions, says industry foundation study

The rapidly growing solar-energy industry is struggling to find qualified workers to fill positions, says a study by The Solar Foundation, a Washington D.C.-based non-profit. While the workforce grew 247 percent in 2011-16 and added 51,000 jobs in 2016, 84 percent of solar installers said they had trouble filling open installation positions. The industry estimates it will add 26,258 positions in 2017, a 10 percent increase.

The study, based on a survey of 400 solar installers, found "that 77.6 percent of solar employers reported difficulty finding candidates with any training specific to the position and 77.9 percent reported difficulty finding candidates with any relevant work experience," Maxine Joselow reports for Energywire. "About 65 percent of solar employers reported that difficulty finding qualified applicants led to increased costs, while 68 percent said it affected their ability to grow."

In Indiana, 100 percent of employers surveyed said they had difficulty hiring employees, according to the study. Rates also were high in New Mexico (95.5 percent), Oregon (93.3), Utah (91.2) and Hawaii (90.9)

Included in the study is "a Geographic Demand Index, which ranks states according to their demand for solar workforce development," Joselow writes. "Vermont tops the index because its solar jobs grew 58 times faster than its economy last year. The Green Mountain State is also projected to see the largest solar job growth relative to its total workforce this year, thanks in part to an aggressive renewable portfolio standard." (Geographic Demand Index)

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