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Pilot solar workforce program launches in Juncos

GRID Alternatives (GRID) and Empowered by Light (EBL) have launched a one-year pilot solar workforce development program in Juncos, Puerto Rico, that will train 60 people in the first year using GRID’s Installation Basics Training (IBT) curriculum.

The curriculum consists of three weeks and 120 hours of interactive classroom instruction and hands-on solar training labs. Trainees will gain new skills, experience with practical solar applications, and career opportunities. 

A graduation ceremony took place on Feb. 16 for the program’s first cohort at the PathStone Workforce Center in Juncos.

“We’re excited that our first group of trainees has graduated from the program and could soon be helping meet the growing demand for solar installers on the island,” said Moira Hanes, executive director and co-founder of EBL. “We hope to have these graduates utilizing their newly acquired skills and knowledge on an actual solar installation very soon.”

GRID and EBL were supported by solar industry companies that supplied solar panels, inverters, racking and batteries for the training center. The inaugural class included four women and five men of various ages, from their 20s to their 60s, including residents from the island-municipality of Vieques.

The three-week program is offered at no cost to eligible participants, upon completion, receive installation certificates and certifications in CPR and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s 10-hour training on basic safety and health information for entry-level workers in construction and general industry.  

Students were recruited from local communities, universities, renewable energy organizations and associations to foster diversity and assist those facing the “highest barriers to entry for career pathways.” 

Depending on the timing and project availability, trainees and graduates may have the opportunity to engage in EBL and partner-funded solar projects to gain real-world experience and skills and improve their resumes. The program’s goal is to connect graduates with employment, thereby increasing job placements and the impact of the IBT program.  

“We are excited to see the first graduating class from our new solar workforce training program in Puerto Rico,” said Jenean Smith, GRID’s vice president of international programs. “Building an inclusive, equitable and diverse solar workforce requires intentionality across the solar industry.  This training program exemplifies collaboration and community participation.”

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