In order to meet
New York’s growth
objectives, we’ll need
thousands of new
workers in RE and EE.
office has increased its closing rate and
reduced installation costs.
NYSERDA is developing new training programs for PV, small- and large-scale wind systems, fuel cells, digesters, geothermal and
solar thermal systems. We’re dedicating $6
million for these initiatives.
For emerging solar companies, access to skilled labor can mean the
difference between failure and success. Instructors at Delaware's
Hodgson Vo-Tech introduced photovoltaic training for their stu-
dents with an eye toward staffing local solar firms.
of Certified Energy Practitioners is a volunteer board of renewable energy stakeholders who created a certification program for renewable
energy installers, designers and inspectors. By working with ISP and
NABCEP, NYSERDA is able to provide third-party-accredited training
programs and to certify designers and installers of PV, small wind and
other renewable and distributed-generation systems.
To meet strong demand in New York, we initially focused on
training PV system installers. Since 2002, NYSERDA has provided
nearly $1 million to seven training organizations to develop ISP-accredited PV training programs. As NYSERDA partners, SUNY Farmingdale, SUNY Delhi, Ulster County BOCES, Alfred State College,
Hudson Valley Community College, Bronx Community College and
the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers have developed
nationally accredited PV training programs. Our PV training partners
offer courses ranging from introductory one-week classes to credit-bearing classes and one-year certificate programs. More than 800
practitioners have been trained in PV design and installation.
Job placement is part of these initiatives. To earn ISP accreditation,
NYSERDA’s training partners must have job placement programs.
Through internship programs, students gain real-world experience —
and hosting installation companies gain access to potential employees.
According to Wolfe, access to NYSERDA trainees and market-development funds has enabled groSolar to bring people on staff for
on-the-job training fast and economically. As a result, the New York
Creating a Green Economy
In order to create an abundant supply of
qualified RE and EE workers, we also need to
develop a corps of capable educators and
dynamic training strategies.
In March Hudson Valley Community College hosted the second
national conference on “New Ideas in Educating a Workforce in
Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency.” This conference — sponsored by NYSERDA and organized by the Interstate Renewable Energy Council, the Partnership for Environmental Technology Education
and Hudson Valley — focused on instructional strategies, curricula
development and related trends. Approximately 350 attendees participated, representing 33 states, 37 community colleges, 19 technical
colleges and guests from Germany, Australia and Canada. (Download
conference papers at irecusa.org.)
Such efforts are invaluable as policy-makers and educators work
to develop the millions of U.S. green-collar workers needed to meet
fast-growing demand. But it may be the most important thing we can
do to help RE/EE businesses succeed. “We need people with solid skills
that we can train,” says groSolar’s Wolfe. “Make the training available
on a very regular basis, and make the hurdles to get into training low.”
As New York has found, meeting these demands is no small challenge. But it’s one worth achieving, for the consumers who have
access to high-performing renewable energy systems. For businesses that, equipped with skilled workers, are driving statewide economic growth. And not least of all, for a world so in need of these technologies and solutions. ●
Adele Ferranti manages the Market and Community Support Program
for NYSERDA’s residential efficiency programs and NYSERDA’s workforce
training initiatives. Previously, for more than 15 years she was project
manager in NYSERDA’s R&D group, where she managed a $28 million portfolio of PV programs and initiatives designed to build a market infrastructure in New York. For more information about NYSERDA and its workforce-training initiatives, access nyserda.org and getenergysmart.org.