A new solar training has been introduced at Riverland, Minnesota in the USA.
With the solar energy economy creating a new generation of jobs, there is a need to train the workers to do them. And one school in the Minnesota area is on the cutting edge of that solar training.
"As we see it, it's a technology that's really going to require a lot of hands to put this together," said Riverland Community College instructor Steven Vietor.
And Riverland wants to make sure those hands are ready.
"To provide the solar training for the workforce out there to install solar systems, solar photo-voltaic systems," Vietor said.
"This round is targeting working electricians to get the skills required to become licensed to install solar equipment in Minnesota," said Becky Thofson at Workforce Development in Rochester.
"We're seeing it used even at the home level to support and run air conditioning loads or at the office level to provide some help in electric loads," Vietor said.
And like many community college programs, solar training is very hands on.
"We've got a 15-hundred watt solar trailer and a 3000 watt solar array and a variety of other solar panels we're going to be dealing with," Vietor said.
Riverland and Workforce Development applied for a grant from the Minnesota State Energy Sector Partnership, and the money they were awarded will make the solar training nearly free for up to 20 students.
"The grant itself covers the tuition funding, tuition and fees at Riverland for the students. The students are going to have to pay for their own books and supplies," explained Workforce Development's Becky Thofson.
And because solar panels are gaining in popularity and become more affordable, those who know how to install them are pretty much guaranteed of finding a job.
"We've had a real good placement. We've had people that were working as far out as North Dakota on small and commercial systems," said Riverland's Steve Vietor.
And as far as the future, the sky's the limit.
"Minnesota has a tremendous resource in our solar energy that at this point has not totally been tapped," said Workforce Development's Becky Thofson.
An informational meeting on the "solar training installer" program will be held at the Riverland campus in Albert Lea at 5:30 on Wednesday evening, September 28th.