Check out the “Diversifying the Solar Workforce Through Inclusive Apprenticeships” poster below to understand the growing employment opportunities in solar energy for people with disabilities. This poster was presented at the American Solar Energy Society’s SOLAR 2022 conference, which focused on “Energy Transition with Economic Justice.” The event was attended by hundreds of solar industry professionals and academics, many of whom spoke with PIA about how solar energy organizations can take steps to make their workforce development activities more inclusive of people with disabilities.

We encourage you to use this graphic to better understand how the solar industry can create inclusive apprenticeship programs that build a talent pipeline and create jobs for people with disabilities.

At the American Solar Energy Society’s SOLAR 2022 conference in June 2022, PIA submitted a paper entitled “Diversifying the Solar Workforce Through Inclusive Apprenticeships.” The paper was revised by industry scholars who accepted the article, which was published by Springer in the “Proceedings of the American Solar Energy Society National Conference.”

Wide poster laid out into three columns, with a cluster of images of people working at the top. Above the columns of content is an introductory paragraph that says “With the solar industry projected to add an additional 500,000 to 1.5 million1 workers by 2035, there is a growing need for a new talent pool to help fill the positions of tomorrow. An apprenticeship program that is designed to be inclusive of people with disabilities can help create a diverse talent pipeline of valued workers to fill this need. The Partnership on Inclusive Apprenticeship (PIA) supports the workforce development community to better understand and design programs that are inclusive of everyone, including people with disabilities. The first column of content is about “the inclusive talent opportunity”. Only 29.1% of working-age adults with a disability are employed, compared with 70% of working-age adults without a disability. Nearly 11 million Americans could enter the labor force and pursue jobs, including through apprenticeships, if companies embraced the full inclusion of workers with disabilities. There is a bar graph showing the different levels of employment for Black, Hispanic, White and Other men and women with a disability. White men and women tend to have higher levels of employment than the other groups. The text next to the bar graph says underrepresented demographic groups often have high rates of disability and lower levels of employment. Making apprenticeship programs and other workforce pathways more inclusive of people with disabilities will create opportunities for underrepresented workers more broadly, better enabling them to achieve any existing goals around diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI). The middle column is about “the value of inclusive apprenticeship.” The text says In 2020, the average Registered Apprenticeship Program yielded a 170% return on investment for North Carolina employers. Companies that embraced best practices for employing and supporting workers with disabilities averaged 28% higher revenue, doubled their net income, and attained 30% higher profit margins. Apprentices have significantly lower turnover than college graduates which means employers spend fewer resources finding and training new hires. At four Walgreens locations, the three-year average turnover rate was 48% higher for team members without a disability, compared to team members with a disability. The last column provides “A Path Forward: Steps to Creating an Inclusive Apprenticeship Program” with the following steps: Explore how apprenticeship programs can help prepare the future solar workforce by learning more about the value of inclusive apprenticeship programs. Build a foundation to create an apprenticeship program, making sure to take advantage of funding sources available in many states that can aid businesses in developing programs, adopting best practices for inclusive hiring and training, and funding workplace accommodations for job seekers with disabilities. Partner with local workforce development leaders that can help connect apprentices and employers, including community and technical colleges, community based organizations, labor-management partnerships, workforce development boards, chambers of commerce, and industry associations . Register an apprenticeship program with a state apprenticeship agency or the U.S. Department of Labor. Recruit talented career seekers while ensuring it’s done in a way that is inclusive of people with disabilities. Learn how to put these steps into action at REFERENCES: (1) National Renewable Energy Laboratory, 2021, (2) US Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2022, (3) US Department of Labor, 2021, (4) ApprenticeshipNC, 2020, (5) Accenture, 2018, (6) US Department of Labor, 2018, (7) American Society of Safety Professionals, 2012