Wanted: More Solar Power Jobs In California

While Northern California is known for its fog, it could become known for its solar technology manufacturing as well. That’s the word from the SolarTech Workforce Innovation Collaborative, which recently released a labor market analysis for the region focusing on solar photovoltaic manufacturing.

Based in part on a half-day roundtable with California’s solar technology leaders at the San Jose Biocenter on Dec. 15, the report identifies green jobs and career opportunities available locally.

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image via Solar Tech

Currently, California constitutes the world’s third largest solar power market, but a lack of local manufacturing has caused businesses to source solar tech from Asia. By identifying and analyzing what solar manufacturers need from their workforce, the consortium hopes to guide educators and job boards in preparing job-seekers for the next wave of green jobs in the region.

With 10,000 to 15,000 people employed in solar start-ups across the state, Northern California is expected to see clean energy job growth in research and development, early-stage and high-end manufacturing, engineering, supply chain management, operations, business development, and finance. But like the rest of the country, California has very little in the way of basic solar tech manufacturing; what little exists within the U.S. is concentrated largely in Mississippi, Wisconsin, and Oregon.

SolarTech recently began compiling monthly job posting statistics to identify where renewable energy needs are greatest, and of 185 jobs posted in October and November, 31 percent were for manufacturing functions, with engineering and product development experience among the skill sets in greatest demand.

Susan DeFreitas has covered all manner of green technology for EarthTechling since 2009. She is a graduate of Prescott College for the Liberal Arts and the Environment, and has a background in marketing green businesses. Her work on green living has been featured in Yes! Magazine, the Utne Reader and Natural Home.