Posts tagged ‘solar’
Penned by Carolyn
Watching this one minute video review of the energy bill in the House, one word resonates again and again: jobs. The potential for job creation in moving towards a clean energy future has become a rallying cry for proponents of the Waxman-Markey Bill — because who can argue with job creation when unemployment has officially hit 9.5% nationally?
In the past couple weeks, the Labor Department announced $500 million in grants for green jobs training programs. States and cities have also started to distribute stimulus dollars for training programs. If you’re interested in who’s getting funding and how, sign up for updates from Green for All — they’ve been giving a number of conference calls to keep folks in the loop and share information nationally about training programs. Most of the money that’s being doled out focuses on helping blue-collar workers transition into the green economy — providing “pathways out of poverty” as the nation undergoes energy retrofits, solar system installation, and more.
But some concerns remain. Yesterday, the New York Times brought into question the effectiveness of retraining programs in giving trainees a leg up in the job search. As the Times wrote, “a little-noticed study the Labor Department released several months ago found that the benefits of the biggest federal job training program were ‘small or nonexistent’ for laid-off workers. It showed little difference in earnings and the chances of being rehired between laid-off people who had been retrained and those who had not.”
Hopefully, the green jobs training programs will avoid the pitfalls that have led to the concerns raised by the NYT article, and will lend a hand to folks from all backgrounds and work histories — we hear from a lot of people who are looking to transfer technical skill sets and haven’t yet found a clear pathway in helping them do so. We have to believe that, with all the energy and enthusiasm focused on the green sector right now, there couldn’t be a better moment for these programs to succeed in training the next generation of environmental leaders.
To that end, we’ll continue to provide advice and resources to our jobseekers (keep an eye out for Bright Green Seminars starting in the next couple months), and we’ll support our partner Solar Richmond as they seek stimulus funding to support their amazing solar installation training program.
Stay tuned… more exciting developments are surely on the way.
Since February, we’ve been putting out daily advice for green jobseekers. If you’re new to our blog or want to poke around in a specific topic, here’s a nearly-complete list of our advice posts. Have a look around!
Bright Green Talent’s 5 Ways to Ramp up your Job Search
Getting Oriented to Go Green
Getting Radically Tempered: Creating Change from the Inside
Paying it Forward
To School or Not to School?
Job Search Tip: Quality over Quantity to Keep Your Sanity
Linking People and Planet: Our Partnership with Solar Richmond
“Oh no, please don’t make me NETWORK!”
Students and Recent Grads:
The Real Deal on Green Jobs for Students and Recent Grads
Get Skills; Get Savvy Part I
Get Connected (Networking 101)
How Not to Be a Jobseeker Horror Story
Resume Boot Camp I
Resume Boot Camp II
Resume Boot Camp III
Penned by Nick
It’s been a peripatetic week. I’ve got just a few short observations to offer, all with one general theme: there’s a lot going on around us that we aren’t paying attention to. Most good, some bad.
Despite the fact I feel like I have few hours to myself every day, I still manage to parse the NY Times daily. Their article on things anyone can do to help be part of the solution to unemployment is refreshing, insightful, challenging, and inspiring all at once. Give it a read–it could change your whole frame of thinking.
My own frame of reference took a big step this week when I observed a few Everyday Heroes installing PV panels in Richmond. Solar Richmond inspired me in a new way this past week, and reaffirmed my belief that green jobs are more than just a pathway out of poverty–they are the path to the future.
Despite that, unemployment continues to climb towards double digits in states nationwide (North Carolina and Oregon now both in double digits). Bright Green Talent itself is feeling the squeeze, though still able to catch a few rays of sun. Our in-house Everyday Hero, Squire Tom, continues to champion and inspire. We’re chasing rainbows and believe we’re near the pot of green gold. Stay tuned…we’re running into new fields. More to come.
- There’s a paucity of good information out there for those who want green jobs;
- Strong federal support for green jobs has generated immense interest, but with few jobs available, many job seekers are starting to view this movement as a “shooting star”; and
- Educational institutions are slow to evolve their curriculum to meet our environmental challenges.
Indeed, despite the warm reception we enjoyed on the East coast, the experience was slightly troubling. Nearly everyone I spoke with is just trying to “figure it out” — “it” being green jobs. How do we create them? How do we train people for them? And what will be their impact in the years ahead?
With so much buzz around green jobs, journalists have been reaching out to us at Bright Green Talent to learn more about green jobs. Here are a couple recent hits:
- Today, Nick was featured on a TriplePundit post about Emerging Careers in the Solar Space.
- Carolyn discussed the youth climate movement and green job opportunities with Truthout.org.
Nick’s speaking today at Tufts’ Fletcher School and MIT Sloan; tomorrow he’s headed to Yale to speak with School of Management and School of Forestry and Environmental Studies students. Hope you can join him!
Penned by Tom
A few weeks ago, we asked you to send in your questions… and you did, they poured in – thank you! Over the coming weeks, I’ll be trying to respond to some of these.
What are the top skills required to work in the green economy?
Obviously the skills required vary according to the jobs you’re hunting for – yet there are some interesting constants within the green movement. We hear certain trends over-and-over from organizations hiring in this sector. These are not exhaustive, nor exclusive, but they’ll give you an idea of the themes out there:
- Experience is often as important as skills, unless you are applying for a highly skills-based position (i.e. solar engineer).
- Experience is almost always more important than education.
- Organizations want people who’ve got business experience, as well as environmental experience; thereby demonstrating a wider skill set.
- The ‘ideal’ candidate is often someone who combines the two of these.
- You can be too green. Organizations (including the non-profits) need people who understand how a business functions and is practical and realistic. If you refuse to use computers, fly or travel to work by car, for environmental reasons, you’re going to reduce the chances of getting many positions.
- General environmental degrees are useful, but won’t distinguish you from the best people out there without these degrees. i.e. someone with a masters in environmental studies won’t always trump someone with a top degree from a good school – although obviously every little bit helps.
- The top skills at the moment are generally specific to specialist roles, such as; engineering, solar technicians, energy assessors, planners.
- You can determine which of these are ‘hot’ or not by glancing over green job boards.
- Look through the recent moves by governments to stimulate interest in the green economy, there are clear trends that indicate which skills are in demand.
- Check Carolyn’s previous post about skills for students
- Also, see Raj’s post on technical (specifically solar) skills
Until next week!
Penned by Raj
After going through last week’s exercise and having decided solar is right for you, it’s time to start realigning your skill set.
There are lots of programs that you can go through to get solar credentials on your resume. The American Solar Energy Society suggests a couple organizations that host workshops: Solar Energy International, the Midwest Renewable Energy Association, the U.S. Green Building Council, and the Solar Living Institute here in the Bay Area. You’ll find a range of classes for whatever your skill set is — for instance, Solar Living Institute is currently hosting “Solar Careers and Industry Opportunities,” “Intro to Photovoltaics,” “PV Design and Installation Intensive” and more. Not only will you gain skills and knowledge, but courses are a good opportunity to network with people in the solar space.
You can also go through a community college or local university — for example, UC Berkeley’s Extension school offers a whole set of courses in Environmental and Sustainability Management, including some solar specific classes: “Investment Grade Solar System Feasibility Studies,” “Solar Industry Orientation” and others. Check out schools around you.
Last, you can go get your hands dirty — GRID Alternatives is a great organization that gives you basic solar panel installation training and you’ll help install panels on low-income housing.
Stay tuned for more information on how to get into renewable energy!
Penned by Raj
In the renewable energy space, there is room for every kind of engineer – mechanical, civil, structural, electrical, chemical, and beyond.
Last week, I talked about starting to understand the solar industry and where you might fit in. The next step is to figure out where your individual skill set is most relevant.
Luckily for you, lots of job openings are available for engineers in all types of solar companies (check out our own site for several). The American Solar Energy Society’s site will also tell you which solar companies are hiring.
Click through a couple job descriptions and look at their core requirements — ignoring for now if they require a couple years or more of industry experience.
Which positions fit your academic background and degrees? Where do the skills you’ve gathered in traditional engineering roles seem to line up with what the solar company is looking for? Start to make a list of these parallels. Where you see shortcomings in your own knowledge of the areas, do research to fill in the gaps — this will help you build your familiarity with the solar space in a very targeted, time-efficient manner. Most importantly, understand that when an employer calls a skillset “required,” they mean it–don’t ignore the position requirements.
This exercise alone will help you get a feel for where you might eventually fit in to a solar company, and give you some short and medium-term goals to aim towards in terms of improving your skillset.
Generally speaking, we’ve seen folks transfer from solar thermal into photovoltaic, and vice-versa. Larger concentrated photovoltaic (CPV) positions draw on industrial project backgrounds. If you’re familiar with the public permitting process for a large refinery, for example, you can easily transfer your skills to a renewable energy firm looking to build a large commercial project in the deserts of California (or Dubai for that matter!).
Last but not least, know your audience. Engineers, in particular, make fact-based decisions. If you don’t have the 5+ years experience required, or never worked in power electronics, then don’t apply for the position if those are core requirements. The concept of a “performance profile” reigns supreme in the world of engineering. If you haven’t done it before, an employer’s not going to risk their business on allowing you to learn on their dime.
Be practical, stay focused, and think laterally–it’s a clear path towards your next solar engineering job.
Next week: Accreditations and classes to bolster your resume.
The American Solar Energy Society also has a
guide on how to step into a solar career.
Penned by Raj
Every day, engineers come to us wondering how they can translate their traditional backgrounds into the renewable energy field. Through the next few weeks, I’ll work on providing some tips for those people on how to best present yourself and make your skills relevant as you transition into the green space.
While I’ll go much further in depth in the following weeks, I’ll start out at square one for engineers looking to move into solar technology companies.
For anyone who’s done research in the solar area, you’ll know that there are different kinds of solar technologies. Companies are working on solar PV, solar thermal, or concentrated PV. Companies provide services within these fields, such as building inverters, installation design, and solar as a service.
The first battle is to understand how these different technologies work. Don’t be embarrassed to check out Wikipedia’s article on solar energy or poke around the American Solar Energy Society‘s site to get oriented. (If you have other informative general articles on solar energy, feel free to share them here so other jobseekers can explore them).
Second, you should start to understand who’s out there. We always come back to this map of 100 Cleantech Start-ups that we found on Earth2tech, which has links to a number of different solar companies. Another good place to find information is through the exhibitor lists for some of the big solar conferences that happen every year, such as Intersolar North America.
Next week, I’ll start talking about presenting your transferable skills to companies as you go through your job search.
About me: I am a part-time lecturer at College Eight on Environment and Society at the University of California, Santa Cruz. Prior to joining Bright Green Talent, I worked in several recruitment envrionments, including executive search, technical and engineering roles at Google Inc and global poverty reduction, global health and climate change positions for Google.org. I am interested in the evolving DNA of scientific, engineering and technology talent in the sustainability, energy efficiency and renewable energy technology sectors and the types of skill sets and values that underpin engineering talent.