In the current climate, solar energy technologies are increasingly vital. The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Solar Energy Technologies Office (SETO) continues to champion these advancements, particularly through the Advancing Equity Through Workforce Partnerships Program.
Today, we spotlight Oregon’s contribution to these efforts, highlighting the awarded projects and their significance to the local community and the broader solar industry.
Oregon Solar Energy Education Fund
The Oregon Solar Energy Education Fund, in partnership with Worksystems, was recently awarded a DOE grant. This will enable them to create a one-day racking training program for aspiring solar workers. Post-training, Worksystems will help place participants within solar companies, a move set to benefit both trainees and employers.
The new initiative, led by OSSIA’s Program Director, Dr. Michelle Maher, aims to improve service delivery and speed up the process of hiring new employees.
Advancing Equity Through Workforce Partnerships
The SETO fiscal year 2022 funding program, worth $13.5 million, was developed to build collaborative workforce programs that promote solar energy technologies and foster an inclusive workforce. The goal is to provide more opportunities for disadvantaged communities and energy justice populations, enabling them to pursue careers in the solar industry.
The funding opportunity was announced in July 2022, with the selection of 12 projects announced on June 13, 2023.
Despite the solar industry employing over 330,000 people and adding 17,200 new jobs in 2021, diversity is still an issue. Hispanic, Black, and Indigenous worker representation stands at 17%, 8%, and 1% respectively. The DOE aims to build a more equitable and inclusive solar workforce to serve the entire U.S. population, particularly disadvantaged communities.
Areas of interest include:
- Apprenticeship readiness or apprenticeship partnerships
- Community-led training partnerships
- Clean energy sector partnerships
The main objective of this funding program is to address the climate crisis by empowering workers and advancing environmental justice, with the end goal of achieving a decarbonized electricity sector by 2035.
Oregon Projects Funded by the DOE
Below are the Oregon projects that have been funded by the DOE:
|Organization||Location||DOE Award Amount||Awardee Cost Share||Principal Investigator|
|Crater Lake Electrical Joint Apprenticeship Training Center||Central Point, OR||$1,500,000||$0||Lance Corely|
|Worksystems||Portland, OR||$1,000,000||$0||Kelly Haines|
Both projects aim to develop training programs that foster job placements and career advancement in the solar industry, targeting diverse job seekers and underrepresented communities.
Through such initiatives, Oregon is making significant strides in solar energy education and workforce development, contributing to the national goal of creating a decarbonized and inclusive solar industry.
For more details on solar workforce development research, funding programs, and open funding opportunities, visit the Solar Energy Technologies Office’s website.