The SunShot Initiative Solar Ready Vets program connects our nation’s skilled veterans to the solar energy industry, preparing them for careers as solar photovoltaic (PV) system installers, sales representatives, system inspectors, and other solar-related occupations. Solar Ready Vets is enabled by the U.S. Department of Defense’s SkillBridge initiative, which allows exiting military personnel to pursue civilian job training, employment skills training, apprenticeships, and internships up to six months prior to their separation.
***Accurate as of May 17, 2016***
When was the Solar Ready Vets program launched and under which authority?
- In September 2014, the U.S. Department of Energy SunShot Initiative launched a pilot phase of the Solar Ready Vets training program for transitioning military personnel to prepare our nation’s skilled veterans to join the growing U.S. solar energy industry. President Obama formally launched the program in April 2015. The program is enabled by the U.S. Department of Defense’s (DoD) SkillBridge initiative* (new policy implemented January 2014), which allows exiting military personnel to pursue civilian job training, employment skills training, apprenticeships, and internships up to six months prior to their separation from the military. [*10 U.S.C. 1143 (e) JTEST-AI] The US. Department of Energy (DOE), under 42 U.S.C. 16394 has authority to engage in outreach and education activities to support the department's mission. Solar Ready Vets became a fully funded program in 2016.
How is the Solar Ready Vets training program funded?
- Solar Ready Vets is funded by the Energy Department's SunShot Initiative through the Solar Training and Education for Professionals funding program and is administered by The Solar Foundation. Military students are asked to utilize GI Bill benefits to cover tuition and materials, though programs at some military installations have state funding or other sources of tuition support for military students.
Who administers Solar Ready Vets?
The Solar Foundation administers the Solar Ready Vets program. This decision was made after a successful pilot program of Solar Ready Vets on several military bases. All future bases will be determined by The Solar Foundation in conjunction with the Energy Department and the Department of Defense.
Is this workforce training partnership between DOE and DoD new or unique? Why?
- The Solar Ready Vets program is the first workforce training partnership between a civilian federal agency (DOE) and the Department of Defense and individual military branches. It is enabled by the Skillbridge initiative.
What military bases are currently participating?
- The Solar Ready Vets program is currently active at Camp Pendleton in California, Fort Carson in Colorado, Naval Station Norfolk in Virginia, Hill Air Force Base in Utah, Fort Drum in New York, Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst in New Jersey, Eglin Air Force Base in Florida, Marine Corps Base Hawaii, Joint Base San Antonio in Texas, and Fort Bragg in North Carolina.
How are the participating military bases selected?
- For selection of the first ten bases, DOE, in partnership with the Department of Defense and military branches, evaluated potential locations for the Solar Ready Vets training program based on the number of exiting military personnel from the installation, the strength of the surrounding solar market, and the training capacity of nearby training institutions. Currently, The Solar Foundation selects bases for the program. Learn more about how to sign up a base up to host a Solar Ready Vets training cohort.
What is the cost of participating in the Solar Ready Vets?
- Training for the four to six week program is established by the participating Solar Ready Vets’ educational partner – usually an accredited community college. Transitioning service members may utilize their GI bill benefits to cover tuition and materials.
- Solar Ready Vets includes OSHA safety certification, hands-on experience with PV equipment, and job interviews with national solar companies. The program delivers a premium training experience for a modest fee, with direct access to future employment.
What can participating military personnel expect to learn in this solar jobs training program?
- Military personnel participating in the Solar Ready Vets program learn how to size and install solar energy systems, connect electricity to the grid, and interpret and comply with local building and electrical codes. Trainees participate in an intensive four to six week training course and use up-to-date PV equipment. They receive instruction from master trainers or skilled, accredited PV instructors approved through Solar Ready Vets. All trainees sit for the North American Board of Certified Energy Practitioners (NABCEP) PV Entry Level Exam, which is an industry-accepted certification. This training program prepares transitioning military service members to be strong candidates for positions in management, PV installation, and sales, as well as technical positions.
Are participating solar companies required to hire the training program graduates?
- No, participating companies are not required to hire training program graduates. Leading employers in the solar industry, including Solar City, Vivint Solar, Sunrun, and others have committed to interview successful graduating military trainees for employment, a step that will help place qualified trainees in the high-paying jobs for which they received training.
Why is this program geared towards transitioning military personnel?
- Military personnel and veterans have a unique skill set that aligns with the solar industry. These individuals are disciplined, motivated, and technically-savvy. With the large number of service members who are expected to transition to veteran status in the next decade, this program is dually beneficial, helping to match veterans who want jobs in clean energy with dynamic, growing solar employers who need many new professionals with these specific skill sets and experiences.
What is the future of Solar Ready Vets?
- Building on the initial success of the pilot stage of this training program, the Energy Department is worked with the Departments of Defense and Veterans Affairs and military branches to transition and expand the Solar Ready Vets training program to ten total military installations in May 2016. The program is managed by The Solar Foundation. DOE and federal agency partners continually work to sustain a successful, enduring program, with the hope of eventually serving both transitioning service members and veterans.
Can interested military service members travel from their assigned installation to attend training elsewhere if this program is not offered near them?
- Under the DoD Skillbridge policy, transitioning military personnel may engage in workforce training within 50 miles of their duty station, with the permission of their installation command, during the final six months of active duty. Solar Ready Vets pairs military installations with nearby educational institutions to support this policy.
- Current veterans may participate now in solar skills training through the DOE Solar Instructor Training Network, which has educational partners across the country. The training is available to anyone, including veterans. Learn more.
Learn more about the SunShot Solar Ready Vets program here.