The Power for America Training Trust Fund (P4A) and Utility Workers Union of America (UWUA), AFL-CIO announced a new union apprenticeship program to provide skills training and a path to employment for in-demand jobs in the renewable energy sector. The Department of Labor (DOL)-certified, program provides individuals with specialized skills to remain at the forefront of the offshore and onshore wind, solar generation and battery storage fields.
“These are the jobs of the future and if we’re going to remain on the cutting edge of the energy industry, the skills we teach must reflect those of the ever-changing energy industry,” said Jon Harmon, P4A executive director. “This important program taps into P4A’s decade of success training and placing individuals in high-skilled positions that allow them to stand-out in the workplace and be placed in a good, family-supporting jobs.”
The hybrid, earn-while-you-learn program meets a growing demand from renewable energy companies for highly-skilled individuals to fill thousands of new job openings in an industry that’s doubled in size over the past decade. While community colleges across the country have offered similar skills trainings, this apprenticeship program provides on-the-job experience. The benefit of the P4A and UWUA partnership means students are earning salary and benefits from the first day they enter the program.
“The members who successfully move through this important program are a triple-threat within the renewable energy industry,” said James Slevin, UWUA president. “Armed with the know-how to move seamlessly between wind, solar and battery storage facilities, their skillsets will continue to be in demand for a long time to come.”
Path to employment
Once individuals complete the three-phase, 2.5 year program, they have a job with Michigan-based Consumers Energy. P4A hopes to form similar partnerships with other companies across the country in the coming years as more organizations seek to fill these kinds of high-skilled positions.
“We continue to be impressed by those P4A-trained individuals, specifically with their preparedness to maintain and operate these facilities and the depth of their expertise once they enter the workforce,” said Brian Zatloukal, renewables operations and maintenance manager for Consumers Energy. “We look forward to this continued partnership.”
P4A worked closely in conjunction with DOL to certify and update the position title from the generic “energy specialist” to a title that more accurately reflects the needs of the renewable energy sector.
— Solar Builder magazine