Solar companies in Oregon and Washington understand the importance of workforce diversity, but they often do not know where to start or lack resources needed to diversify their employees, according to a new study released by The Solar Foundation.
The “Oregon and Washington Solar Workforce Diversity Report” evaluates the workforce pipeline for the solar industry in Oregon and Washington, and specifically the practices surrounding diversity and inclusion, hiring, and training. This report looks at the progress made and challenges ahead in building a skilled, diverse, and inclusive solar workforce in the Pacific Northwest.
Key findings from the report include:
- Solar companies acknowledge the importance of workforce diversity and are seeking to expand their workforce diversity and inclusion efforts, but many say they do not know where to start or do not have the resources to take necessary steps.
- 69% of the companies interviewed do not formally track employee gender, sexual orientation, ethnic and racial diversity.
- 59% of companies rely on word-of-mouth as a recruiting technique, which reinforces existing workforce demographics and often excludes underrepresented populations.
- Most of the companies interviewed struggle to find licensed electricians and Limited Renewable Energy Technicians (LRTs). Solar contractors should actively participate in the training of LRT and electrical apprentices to ensure a robust pipeline of licensed workers is available. Read more about the importance of solar engaging with allied industries here.
- The solar industry in Oregon and Washington has opportunities for rapid advancement. New hires who are unlicensed installers have the potential to be promoted to a mid-level position within one year or less, resulting in a 17% pay raise. For entry-level licensed installers, the expected pay raise after promotion is 28%.
This report follows up on the “U.S. Solar Industry Diversity Study 2019,” released in May 2019 by The Solar Foundation and the Solar Energy Industries Association. That report looked at challenges to diversity and inclusion on the national level and identified best practices to move the industry forward.
The report was produced by The Solar Foundation, a national nonprofit organization, and sponsored by the Northwest Energy Coalition and Energy Trust of Oregon. It was funded in part by the U.S. Department of Energy Solar Energy Technologies Office.
“Oregon and Washington face a challenge shared by states across the nation: How do we make the solar workforce more inclusive and representative for women, people of color, the LGBTQ community and veterans?” said Andrea Luecke, president and executive director at The Solar Foundation. “By meeting this challenge, solar companies can expand the pipeline of skilled workers while also making the industry more innovative and profitable.”
News item from The Solar Foundation