While employment opportunities in the solar industry have slowed nationally and statewide, recent reports by GRID Alternatives Inland Empire, The Solar Foundation and the Inland Empire Desert Center of Excellence confirmed several solar industry employers are looking to add jobs in the inland region.
Analysis showed during 2017, solar jobs dropped by 3.8 percent nationally and 14.7 percent statewide. Yet, the industry projects it will add more than 670 jobs over the next two years. The news was particularly encouraging for locals employed in the solar industry in light of the 30 percent tariff imposed on solar panel imports in January by President Trump. The solar industry relies on imports for approximately 80 percent of its solar panel products.
Although many among the three dozen commercial and residential employers who do business in the Inland Empire and participated in The Solar Foundation study expressed some concern about the impact the tariffs may have over time, at least 64 percent of the survey participants said they still plan to add new employees.
According to these employers, most of the projected positions only require a high school diploma and offer an average starting salary for construction/operation positions of just over $21 per hour. The types of jobs available in this industry include project management, sales, photovoltaic solar installers and electricians, among others.
According to the survey, one of the biggest roadblocks these companies face in the hiring process is finding qualified candidates. At least 60 percent of respondents noted the difficulty their experience in recruiting individuals with the necessary training or work experience in solar.
These findings provide a perfect roadmap for organizations like GRID Alternatives Inland Empire and the Inland Empire/Desert Center of Excellence to ensure their training focus is aligned with the needs of solar companies doing business in Riverside and San Bernardino Counties.