By Staff Reports
(Victor Valley)– A solar hiring conference hosted by the Victor Valley College Construction Technology Department featured five leading solar companies that turned hopes of finding employment into reality for recent graduates of the Photovoltaic Technician Program.
Program Facilitator, Tony Bonato reported afterwards, “After talking to both the employers and the student, I anticipate that every student at the hiring conference will be hired within the month. The solar industry is exploding and our comprehensive program prepares students for immediate employment as installers and site surveyors.” In October of 2013, a group of 20 graduates seeking solar employment resulted in 19 positions hired. Jeremy McCool represented Desert Solar for this hiring conference and said, “This program is a great asset for our company. We currently have seven graduates working for us and they have each contributed to Desert Solar’s success.” Desert Solar hired two students prior to their graduation last week. This is the second such hiring conference held at VVC.
The Photovoltaic Technician Program culminates in a challenging six-unit course, CT-148, where students are taught the fundamentals of solar energy, PV module installation, and electrical principles. Two-thirds of the class is lab and physical installation in order to prepare students for the workforce. According to Tony Bonato, “Graduates can expect a starting wage of $14-16 per hour if they have no prior electrical experience. People with an electrical and/or construction background are typically hired at $16-19 per hour”. The solar industry is experiencing 20% annual growth, so the need for qualified installation technicians, site surveyors, system designers, and project managers is strong. Brett Dowis of Sun Run Inc. stated, “I need to hire seventeen people this month and seventeen next month. I put off hiring because I was waiting for the VVC Hiring Conference.”
An area of high demand in the solar industry that is less physically demanding is system design. Every installation requires drawings and documentation for the permitting process. AutoCAD is a computer program used to make construction drawings. It is taught at VVC in the Computer Integrated Design and Graphics department.
“If you combine AutoCAD skills with the Photovoltaic Program, you have a very valuable skill set for the Solar Industry. In every case so far, those graduates were snapped up very, very quickly,” says Tony Bonato. AutoCAD classes will be offered during the summer and this fall at VVC.
“My biggest challenge” says Tony Bonato, “is getting the word out. We are looking for men and women who want to work hard and get in on this cutting-edge, rapidly growing area of construction. We have a terrific program and great industry partners. I know there are lots of people that could be starting a new career with this program if they only knew about it.” An informal question and answer session will be held at 5:30 p.m. on Monday June 23rd at Construction Technology (Building 65). Anyone that is interested in finding out more about the program and solar career opportunities should attend. For questions, Program Facilitator, Tony Bonato, can be reached at 760-245-4271 x2817.Program Facilitator.