Energy | April 04, 2012 |
Big California Solar Plants Hiring Freshly Trained Construction Workers Next Door
Some of the huge solar projects in California's desert we've been hearing about are under construction and unemployed construction workers are being trained to build them right next door.
The College of the Desert in Palm Springs just added a 120-foot-long solar thermal parabolic trough to train people at its renewable energy training center.
"What we're finally seeing is not the promise of future renewable energy development, but the reality," said Karen Douglas of the California Energy Commission in a keynote address honoring the event.
"I'm tickled to death I went through this [training program]," Steve Sisco told The Desert Sun. "It's kind of a cross of old skills and new technology. I was given an opportunity that changed my life and a lot of lives around me." At 55, he changed careers and is now working at the nearby solar plant.
First Solar, which is building Desert Sunlight, has hired 270 of 335 people working at the site from the county. By fall, 600 people will be working there.
That's only the first wave of hiring and solar companies are snapping up applicants who combine solar training with previous construction experience, George Puddephatt, a development specialist with Riverside County Workforce Development Division told The Desert Sun.
The agency helps College of the Desert screen program applicants and helps with additional skills like interviewing and developing resumes.
Now that California has upped its renewable energy goal to 33 percent by 2020, and could actually double that because of its supportive policies. The three largest utilities have already met the previous target of 20 percent.
That means there's an urgent need for trained employees. 137 renewable energy projects have been permitted in California over the past two years.
Working through partnerships with local work force investment boards and community colleges, California's Clean Energy Workforce Training Program delivers training to unemployed and underemployed workers seeking careers in renewable energy. There are 18 training programs spread around the state:
Photo by Kevin Dooley/flickr/Creative CommonsReprinted with permission from SustainableBusiness.com