Honoring Service: Clean Energy Apprenticeships for Veterans

Honoring Service: Clean Energy Apprenticeships for Veterans

This week marks National Apprenticeship Week, a time to recognize and celebrate the contributions of apprentices and Registered Apprenticeship Programs to our nation’s workforce.

Today, we’d like to highlight the particular significance of apprenticeships for veterans, who often face unique challenges in transitioning to civilian life and finding meaningful employment. Apprenticeships offer veterans a valuable opportunity to learn in-demand skills, gain hands-on experience, and establish themselves in growing industries like clean energy and energy efficiency.

On the flip side, the benefits to employers are clear – according to the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL), for every dollar spent on apprenticeship, employers get back an estimated $1.47 on average in increased productivity, lower turnover rates, and greater frontline innovation. Apprentices are more likely to stay with companies that invest in their training and development than the average non-apprentice hire. In fact, DOL estimates that 91 percent of all registered apprentices stay with their employers after graduation.

Why Veterans are Well-Suited for the Clean Energy and Energy Efficiency Sectors

The clean energy and energy efficiency sectors are not only growing rapidly, but they also offer several career paths that are well-suited to veterans’ skills and experiences. Here are some of the reasons why veterans are a good fit for these industries:

  • Current Momentum: The clean energy and energy efficiency sectors are attracting a growing number of veterans. 11% of energy efficiency workers are veterans, compared to just 6% of the U.S. workforce (E4 the Future). Additionally, the 2020 National Solar Jobs Census revealed that over 20,000 veterans are employed in the solar industry across the United States, accounting for 9% of the total solar industry workforce. This is higher than the 6.6% of veterans in the overall U.S. workforce.
  • Veteran Profile: Veterans bring a wealth of skills and experience to the solar industry, making them highly sought-after employees. Known for their strong work ethic, teamwork skills, and ability to adapt to changing situations, they can both operate on their own and collaborate as part of a team. Their military training instills discipline, teamwork, and problem-solving skills. These qualities are highly valued in the clean energy and energy efficiency sectors, which often require workers to be flexible, resourceful, and able to work under pressure. Also, veterans are used to following instructions, which, in an industry that demands strict adherence to safety protocols, is essential.
  • Financial Opportunity: In addition to the career growth and skill development offered by the clean energy and energy efficiency sectors, veterans can also benefit financially. With 11% of energy efficiency professionals represented by unions, surpassing the national average of 6% in the private sector, veterans can access competitive wages and robust job protections by pursuing a career in energy efficiency.
  • Ample Choices: The energy efficiency sector offers a variety of career paths for veterans, with opportunities in areas such as weatherization, HVAC installation, home energy auditing, and other roles. Meanwhile, the solar industry offers a diverse range of career opportunities for veterans as well, with roles available in installation, production, manufacturing, sales, and management. This variety ensures that veterans can find positions that align with their specific skills and interests.
  • Sense of Mission: the clean energy and energy efficiency sectors are mission-driven, which appeals to veterans who are often motivated by a desire to serve their community. This mindset can be an asset in these industries, which often involves working with low-income households and communities that are struggling with high energy costs.

Navigating the Post-Military Transition

Despite the valuable skills and experiences that veterans bring to the table, there are still obstacles that hinder their transition from active duty into the civilian workforce.

Veterans’ military training has equipped them with discipline and many essential skills, but translating these skills into civilian job requirements can be difficult. Additionally, veterans may encounter disabilities or health challenges that pose obstacles in their job search. Negative stereotypes about veterans may also deter employers, leading to misconceptions about their adaptability and ability to fit into company cultures (E4 the Future). Many veterans are also unaware of the wide range of career opportunities available in rapidly-evolving industries like clean energy and energy efficiency.

Apprenticeships as a Transitional Pathway for Veterans

While the transition from military service to civilian life can be a challenging process, apprenticeships offer a valuable pathway for veterans to bridge the gap between their military experience and a fulfilling career in sectors such as clean energy and energy efficiency.

Registered Apprenticeship Programs (RAP) provide a structured and supportive environment for veterans to acquire the skills, knowledge, and experience necessary for success in the clean energy industry. These programs offer competitive wages, hands-on training, classroom instruction, and mentorship, ensuring that veterans are well-equipped to navigate the challenges of a new industry.

Benefits of Apprenticeships for Veterans

  • Paid on-the-job training: Apprenticeships provide paid training, allowing veterans to earn a wage while they develop their skills and experience.
  • Career development: Apprenticeships provide a structured pathway for career development, allowing veterans to progress through various levels of training. Upon completion, veterans receive nationally recognized certifications, enhancing their employability and opening doors to higher-paying opportunities.
  • Mentorship: Apprentice programs typically pair apprentices with experienced mentors who provide guidance and support. For example, mentors can help veterans understand the different expectations and cultural norms of the civilian workforce. They can also provide advice on how to network, interview for jobs, and negotiate salaries. Mentors can also share their knowledge and expertise about the latest trends, technologies, and best practices in the clean energy and energy efficiency industries.
  • Personal growth: Beyond the professional benefits, apprenticeships also foster personal growth among veterans. The structured learning environment and mentorship provided through these programs can help veterans build self-confidence, develop communication, problem-solving skills, and time management skills, and better manage stress, all of which are transferrable to various aspects of their lives.

Everblue Is a Supportive Partner for Veterans Seeking Clean Energy Careers

Everblue, a Veteran Owned Small business, understands the challenges veterans face in transitioning back into civilian life and starting a new career.

We offer a range of resources and services specifically tailored to their needs, including a 10% military discount on all training programs as well as assistance with applying for reimbursement of exam fees through partnerships with the U.S. Green Building Council, NABCEP, and BPI.

Everblue Partnerships with Veteran-Focused Training Programs

Everblue has a long history of successfully partnering with community and technical colleges to provide specialized training programs to veterans.

For example, Everblue partnered with Fayetteville Technical Community College to jointly offer a Solar Ready Vets program, with its first class of veteran students graduating in 2016.

This multi-week training program, which was part of a national network of Department of Energy-sponsored solar workforce development programs specifically targeting skilled veterans, provided participants with classroom training, hands-on solar panel installation training, and soft skills training.

As IREC has recently re-launched this program, Everblue is now actively exploring new opportunities to rekindle its participation in this program.

Everblue’s Specialized Training Programs for Veterans

Everblue offers a variety of training courses that prepare veterans to work in the solar and energy efficiency industries. Check them out below!

About Lesley Baulding

Lesley has been passionately advocating for and working with green building and renewable energy since 2009. She has experience with LEED certification, home energy auditing, blower door testing, solar energy, and more. She holds many certifications, including LEED Green Associate and NABCEP Certification. Her work has won numerous awards over the past decade.