The solar technology industry has a diversity problem. The Solar Foundation’s 2013 National Solar Jobs Census revealed that 19 percent of all solar workers are women, nearly 16 percent are Latino, 7 percent are Asian/Pacific Islander, and 6 percent are African-American. The percent of African-American and women solar workers is definitely lower than their respective percentages of the US society as a whole. The folks at SunEdison, Inc. and the SunEdison Foundation seek to diversity the solar workforce.
On February 20, 2015, both SunEdison and the SunEdison Foundation announced a five million dollar gift to their philanthropic partnership with GRID Alternatives, the nation’s largest non-profit solar installer. The organizations are starting a two-year initiative, RISE, to connect the solar industry’s demand for skilled workers with communities in need of jobs and to build a more diverse solar workforce. The RISE initiative will provide underserved communities with solar job training and job placement through the GRID Alternatives’ workforce development program.
The RISE initiative’s objective is to provide hands-on training and solar installation experience to over 4,000 people across the country. The program will also assist job trainees in seeking work with solar companies.
California State Senate President pro Tempore Kevin de Leon (D-Los Angeles) expressed enthusiasm for the project, “The RISE workforce diversity initiative will help put climate policies to work for all Californians, by engaging those communities who need the most help with pollution, energy bills, and job opportunities. GRID Alternatives and SunEdison’s partnership is a model for California – their job training program gives women and members of underserved communities the skills they need to secure jobs in the solar industry.”
To learn more information about the RISE initiative, check out gridalternatives.org/rise.