From Oct 21-23rd, Oregon Solar Energy Industries Association (OSEIA), Solar Energy International (SEI), Energy Trust of Oregon and Remote Energy presented the first three-day Solar Industry Readiness Training pilot to Oregon Tradeswomen’s Environmental Workers Training program students. Clackamas Community College Renewable Energy Program donated their new outdoor lab training facilities so students could experience classroom and hands-on training. Sunbridge Solar volunteered to host students at an installation site, where the install team walked students through what their work days may look like, showed their tool kits and van setup.

The pilot curriculum included the basics of grid-tied PV systems, racking and safety fundamentals, module and MLPE installation, and more. The group spent their mornings in the classroom and afternoons in the lab, with the goal of preparing them for a career in the solar industry. Eight students, many with little to no construction or electrical experience, attended the class. Carol Weis, co-founder of Remote Energy and an instructor at SEI, believes that it is important to have all women’s classes as it introduces a ‘whole new dynamic and energy’ that is often lacking in a co-ed training context. Sarah Wilder, an instructor from SEI with over 10 years of solar installation experience, mentioned that there are very few women in the Solar Industry, particularly in solar installation, yet it is an excellent and rewarding career path. Carol and Sarah, both passionate and knowledgable instructors, are empowering other women to enter into the solar industry through this program.

The trainee’s reactions to the new course? One student said that “this has been the best training in this whole program because we’re actually hands on – actually doing it. Sitting in a classroom is not for me, I’d rather be in it and know exactly how to do it – the day to day of the job.” This is exactly what the pilot program is meant to accomplish. The training concluded with sharing personal solar stories, discussing Oregon’s solar and job market, and resources for students to connect with Oregon’s solar industry. A big thanks to our sponsors the Spirit Mountain Community Fund and the Energy Trust of Oregon, and to all who contributed. Stay tuned as we are looking forward to brainstorming how to incorporate more trainings like this in Oregon and throughout the world.

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