Local News
February 17, 2016

Vermont among leaders in solar jobs for third consecutive year

Wages are above national average

A new report released by the national non-profit The Solar Foundation found Vermont to be No. 3 in solar jobs per capita in the country, for the third year in a row. Nationally, the solar industry continues to set record job and installation growth, creating jobs at a rate 12 times faster than the economy.

According to the organization’s annual “National Solar Jobs Census,” the top jobs sectors in Vermont are in installation and manufacturing, followed by sales/distribution and project development jobs. Median wages for solar installation jobs in Vermont are higher than the national average, at $23/hour.

“The job-creating strength of our industry is testament to Vermont’s innovative and entrepreneurial energy business environment as well as stable state policies,” said Jeff Forward, Renewable Energy Vermont chair. “This report confirms what we all know: solar jobs will continue to fuel our state’s economy and power our future growth. This national report also confirms that Vermont can either incubate its share of new solar jobs or they will go elsewhere around the country,” Forward added.

Findings

A Vermont-specific jobs census within the report finds that employers expect to add approximately 178 new solar workers to payrolls over the next 12 months–a growth rate of 13 percent–far above the projected growth rate of the state’s workforce as a whole. It also finds that installation firms employ the largest portion–at 58.8 percent–of the Vermont solar workforce, followed by manufacturing firms at 18.4 percent.

Finally, for the first time Vermont topped 20,000 homes powered by solar and ranks 21st in cumulative solar capacity installed nationally.

Employment numbers

Other recent Vermont jobs reports have found more than 16,000 jobs in Vermont’s energy sector. In the Solar Foundation’s census, employment numbers for solar are only counted for workers that spend at least 50 percent of their time in solar, undercounting employment figures for workers who spend only part of their time on solar, common in the emerging Vermont industry.

Addressing workforce-training needs, the census found that “in order to sustain this future growth, it is essential that Vermont employers have ready access to quality talent and skilled labor or enhance their on-the-job training offerings. To achieve this, more focused and comprehensive solar training efforts–in-house, in-state, and across the country–must be sufficiently emphasized.”

Vermont Technical College President Dan Smith said, “Vermont Tech is committed to the idea that we can serve Vermonters and the Vermont solar industry in a way that ensures access to workforce and opportunity are no longer obstacles to the state’s economic expansion.”

Though Vermont no longer offers any state rebates and only recently adopted a Renewable Energy Standard beginning in 2017, the report cited “stable state policies” as helping fuel the jobs growth.

Renewable Energy Vermont (REV) is a nonprofit, nonpartisan trade association representing nearly 300 businesses, individuals, colleges and others committed to reducing our reliance on fossil fuels and expanding the availability of renewable sources of power in Vermont.

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