Houston, we have a problem. We have an aged infrastructure, an outdated utility model and somehow stripped vocational training out of schools while increasing student debt.
What is the solution?
Retooling trade skills in schools into hands-on training and relevant curriculum can be a challenge when you understand the needs and skills. With the introduction of alternative energy, we have a roadmap and plans; but solar, wind, and now storage will require deep industry collaboration as we reimagine our energy infrastructure.
The solution to the challenge is quite simple: activate schools with cutting edge programs within communities that need it most. Rural, low to medium income, and areas of diversity offer a three part solution. Cleaner power sources, job creation, and teacher to student learning.
Today’s Labor Shortage
Over the past 30 years, school districts around the country have largely phased out vocational classes in lieu of STEM courses. More emphasis has been placed on students achieving four year college degrees, while blue collar careers are not encouraged at the middle and high school levels. Because of this lack of training rooted in negative perceptions of skilled laborers, we are experiencing a massive labor shortage across the US, from construction workers to plumbers. These types of jobs are necessary and offer students alternative means of making money without getting swallowed by student debt. The need for more vocational, alternative learning methods is steadily growing, spurning educators to consider new options for their students to achieve career readiness in emerging industries with large growth opportunities.
Accelerating the Workforce
To address this nationwide labor shortage as well as create opportunities for the next generation, NATiVE partnered with Solar Austin to develop practical training and curriculum to be used in independent school districts to prepare students for a career in the solar industry. Green career opportunities are expanding, and with them, the need to fill the workforce with qualified personnel. NATiVE’s high school curriculum focus is intended to prepare students with practical skills directly out of high school, offering them lucrative and promising job opportunities that will continue to develop in tandem with the industry itself.
Creating Hubs of Resilience and Learning Clusters
As more schools begin to adopt the curriculum and set up solar panels that double as renewable energy sources and hands-on teaching mechanisms, NATiVE is helping transform schools into hubs of resilience. Resilience hubs are community facilities equipped with solar panels and battery storage for energy assurance in times of extended or widespread grid outages. These hubs have the ability to function as emergency shelters for the surrounding community during times of disaster or extreme climate. By establishing these hubs at schools, NATiVE is helping to increase energy security across communities while educating students, teachers and the community about resilience and new energy career pathways.
Join NATiVE & Solar Austin and accelerate opportunities to meet the demand for qualified technicians and bolster the green energy workforce.
If you’re a homeowner, a student, or an active member of your community, please contact Anneka Brink to learn more about accelerating solar jobs in your area.
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