Greater diversity benefits both the employer and employee. Years of studies have proven that workforce diversity and cultural inclusivity create stronger, more innovative, and more resilient organizations. Gender and racial diversity are clearly correlated with profitability, improving a company’s market performance and overall bottom-line.

While Austin has grown a thriving local clean energy industry, more could be done to improve diversity in the workforce. The Solar Foundation’s U.S. Solar Industry Diversity Study 2019 shows that people of color (with the exception of Hispanics) and women are underrepresented in the solar workforce. Studies show the lack of diversity stems in part from the industry’s reliance on word-of-mouth recruitment techniques and general unfamiliarity about the industry’s viable career pathways within educational and training programs.

Today, leaders across the industry are naming diversity and equity as top business priorities; yet, the solar workforce continues to fall short in adequately reflecting America’s diverse population. Increasingly more solar companies are also reporting that it is “very difficult” to find and hire qualified workers. This discrepancy between company values and hiring practices results in structural challenges to organizational success. That’s where Solar Austin’s Pathways to Clean Energy Careers program comes in! 

Our Initiative 

Solar Austin is tackling the industry’s diversity challenge head-on by launching a structured internship matching program to place women and students of color at solar and other clean energy companies.

Through our grant-funded program, Solar Austin will recruit clean energy companies to engage to hire and mentor paid interns and students interested in accessing jobs in the solar and clean energy fields. 

The goal of Solar Austin’s Pathways to Clean Energy Careers program 
is to help facilitate avenues for underrepresented students into
Texas’ clean energy sector and to develop a set of
best practices for clean energy companies that want to improve
diversity and inclusivity in their recruitment, hiring, and retention of staff.

Careers in clean energy involve much more than project construction. These businesses employ individuals in sales, marketing, finance, administration, design, engineering, and other areas. With the Pathways program, Solar Austin will expose students from diverse backgrounds to a wide array of sustainability-focused job opportunities. These internships will provide students with access to jobs that pay at least a living wage and provide ample opportunity for advancement and professional mentorship. In the end, the Pathways program will foster more resilient and diverse organizations, as well as a more inclusive green jobs ecosystem.