Solar Jobs: Progress and Challenges

This week has been full of positives in the U.S. solar and renewable energy circles as two reports indicated. The first report cited obvious growth in California solar labor force while the other emphasized the overall solar renewable energy expansion in the Midwest states.

While diversity in labor force is attractive, when it excessively favored one group, then striking a balance is necessary. In California, people of color have the largest share of solar jobs, followed by Latinos with African American and military veterans coming next respectively. The disadvantaged groups are women, Asian-Pacific and Native American. The good news is that a program to correct the unevenness is already in place. Some measure of preference in recruitment is now given to women among other disadvantaged groups through the partnership of labor groups with secondary education institutions and other organizations.

For the Midwest states, the growth of solar renewable energy is impressive. Reports show that the 12-state heartland of Indiana, Kansas, Iowa, Illinois, Wisconsin, South Dakota, Ohio, North Dakota, Nebraska, Minnesota, Michigan and Kansas are all enjoying a boost in the number of renewable energy jobs since 2015 with Illinois leading the pack with 119,395 of such jobs.

While it is hoped that a balance in the diversity of California renewable labor force will be achieved in no distant time, indications show that the good trend in the Midwest states will not be short-lived. In all, happenings in the solar renewable energy circles are encouraging.