Cerritos College in Norwalk, California has launched a first-of-its kind training program to certify military veterans and other qualified applicants to meet the growing need for electrical field service technicians (EFSTs). These technicians are responsible for maintaining the country’s fast-growing solar power and electric vehicle infrastructure.
The program is the result of a partnership among Cerritos College’s Technology Division, the Advanced Transportation & Renewable Energy (ATRE) sector (a California Community Colleges workforce program), and True South Renewables. The five-month college certification program will teach students how to maintain and repair solar PV systems, EV charging stations, and equipment needing general maintenance. Many solar companies, including True South Renewables, have jobs waiting for graduates of the program.
Cerritos College and ATRE worked closely with True South Renewables to develop the extensive curriculum for this unique program.
“This is an important initiative to provide military personnel who were electricians in the service with training to receive certification in a high-paying, growing, civilian field,” said Rue Phillips, CEO of True South Renewables. “In addition, these graduates are needed. Few outside the solar power industry are aware of the volume of operations and maintenance work required to ensure the optimum performance of large solar fields and photovoltaic systems on commercial and residential rooftops.”
Classes start January 12, 2015 at the Cerritos College campus. Applicants must be experienced electricians with accumulated service knowledge and skills in the electronics/electrician and IT sectors. Qualified U.S. veterans are being prioritized for entry and will be able to secure financial support upon acceptance.
“We are proud to offer this program to the community, enabling qualified veterans, the unemployed, and underemployed to receive training that fills a critical shortage of technicians in the trillion dollar solar and EV markets,” said Jannet Malig, ATRE regional director. “Graduates of the program will be introduced to industry leaders with the expectation that we will achieve 99% job placement for graduating students.”
The EFST program at Cerritos College will serve as a pilot for implementing the courses in community colleges throughout California and across the nation, according to Peter Davis, statewide director of the ATRE.
“The EFST program upgrades the skill sets of the workforce necessary to meet the growing employment demands of renewable energy technology firms,” Davis said.
Program graduates will also receive a certificate of achievement in New Product Development from the chancellor’s office of California Community Colleges. The program is part of a statewide commitment to “Doing What Matters.”
Upon completion of the program, graduates will be certified within three modules: Solar Inverter Maintenance and Repair, Electrical Vehicle Service Equipment (EVSE) Maintenance and Repair, and Solar and EVSE Related Instrumentation and IT Products.
As the solar industry continues to mature, operations and maintenance is becoming a rapidly growing sector. A well-educated workforce will be needed to ensure our large solar farms continue to operate as intended for many years to come. By providing training to veterans who already have experience as electricians, this program will be able to quickly put people to work.