Industry Partnership Submitted By:
NOVA Workforce Board
Solartech Workforce Innovations Collaborative
The rapidly growing solar industry boasts technology and products that are ready to provide clean energy and lower customers' electric bills. In the past few years, we have seen advances in processes that knock down market barriers. What it currently needs is a qualified, highly skilled workforce that can move the industry forward. While the economic downturn might indicate an advantageous market for companies looking to hire, solar companies have often found a disconnect between the skills that they need and the skills that potential employees have learned. At the same time, workforce development programs have struggled to meet the challenge of finding employment for workers in this new and fast-growing industry.
The SolarTech Workforce Innovation Collaborative (SWIC) is an industry-led partnership that applies an integrated and systematic approach to identifying, training and placing the right people for the right jobs at the right time to meet the specific needs of employers in the solar, energy efficiency and electric vehicle industries in Silicon Valley. This program, funded through a State grant, is a three-legged partnership between industry (SolarTech), training programs (Foothill-De Anza Community College District) and talent services (the NOVA Workforce Board - that works with individuals to have them trained and ready to work). SWIC has successfully bridged employers with trained candidates using innovative and pioneering practices.
Outcomes & Results
The SWIC program is already seeing results. Over the past 18 months it has trained 255 unemployed professionals, helped place 126 people in jobs, and the numbers are expected to climb in the coming weeks. The program is close to reaching the 70 percent employment goal that was established by the State. The model developed by SWIC has helped local solar and energy efficiency companies in the Bay Area cultivate the right type of workforce. It presents a number of best practices and standards that could become replicated in other jurisdictions around the country where there are specific demands to grow a clean technology sectors, but a lack of supply of well-trained employees.