The solar pioneers of the Del Valle ISD Opportunity Center (DVOC) set an important precedent in the winter of 2021. They showed students how to take their power back through old school work-study programs. While the Department of Labor still tries to decide on the approval of national standards in solar apprenticeship programs, Texans are already accelerating a much-needed workforce.
DVOC offers a glimpse of the immediate career opportunities many Texans have at their fingertips. The program at Del Valle is uniquely designed to provide access to jobs while promoting diversity and inclusion. McKinsey Studies have shown that workforce diversity and cultural inclusivity create stronger, more innovative, and more resilient organizations.
Established in 2019, Solar Austin’s Pathways to Clean Energy Careers program aims to target the industry’s lack of diversity by exposing students from underrepresented backgrounds to a wide array of sustainability-focused job opportunities. The program is designed to educate, prepare, and equip individuals with the resources and workforce development that they need to find upward mobility through a career in solar.
Last year, Solar Austin, along with its partners, went a step further by launching the first cohort of an innovative solar installation training program at DVOC. As Principal Ray Macias describes, the technician training program is a wonderful opportunity to enter the workforce directly out of high school for students whose “lives have already started.” The program incorporates both online and in-person training components to help students develop necessary on-the-job skills, and has been made possible thanks to donated equipment, time, and labor from a network of industry sponsors.
The students’ on-site solar installation experience gives them the hands-on learning needed to prepare them to serve a thriving solar industry as well as help build a more inclusive workforce. With 96% of its population identifying as a person of color, recruitment from the Del Valle ISD program will allow both Solar Austin and NATiVE Solar to utilize the talent of the diverse student population. The valuable experience and career preparation provided by the program will ensure that students will have many more opportunities in the solar industry after graduating high school.
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If you or your company would like to support this initiative, we have opportunities available for companies looking to hire, volunteers, mentors, and sponsors. Please reach out to Solar Austin’s Executive Director firstname.lastname@example.org to learn more!