More than 13,000 U.S. Veterans are already working in the solar industry, and the number is growing. That’s almost 10 percent of the workforce in the solar industry, according to a new report from Operation Free, a coalition of veterans and national security experts, and The Solar Foundation. The report also found that nearly 62 percent of solar companies plan to hire more people in the next year.
The new report, Veterans in Solar: Securing America’s Energy Future, is based on data from The Solar Foundation’s National Solar Jobs Census 2013. “This short report establishes the first and most complete understanding to date of veteran employment in the U.S. solar industry,” explained The Solar Foundation President Andrea Luck. The report found that the majority of veterans in the solar industry (39 percent) work in the installation sector, while another 27 percent work in the manufacturing sector of the industry.
“We are thrilled to partner with The Solar Foundation on this important report,” said Advocacy Director of Operation Free Jaclyn Houser. “We are finally able to see, with hard numbers, what we have suspected for years: veterans are huge assets to the clean energy economy,” she added. “They view their work in clean energy as a continuation of their service.”
Veterans are still experiencing a high level of unemployment in the U.S. at 15 percent, according to the report. Showing that veterans are finding great opportunities in the solar sector. “Our servicemen and women have made great sacrifices for our country and it is our responsibility to ensure that when they return home there are high-skill and well-paying jobs available,” said Congressman Scott Peters (CA-52).
“This report highlights the ways solar strengthens the U.S. economy and our national security,” said Nat Kreamer, CEO ofClean Power Finance and a former Intelligence Officer, Special Forces, U.S. Navy, who served in Afghanistan. “Veterans are over-represented in the solar industry because we know first-hand that clean, affordable domestic power makes America and the world safer.”
The report also suggests next steps to expand opportunities for veterans. Among the suggestions is the creation of a skills transfer tool, now under development. Such a tool, according to the report will help employers match their needs with the skills obtained by veterans.