The solar job market is growing so fast, finding new employees is getting expensive. More than half of the US’s solar companies spend more than $10,000 per unfilled position in delayed hiring and recruitment expenses, constricting their ability to grow.
That’s according to the Solar Training Network’s new report, Solar Training and Hiring Insights 2017. The report found that 68 percent of solar installers in the US are having difficulty finding qualified workers. Streamlining hiring, and investing in post-hire training, could reduce the soft costs of solar power by more than $10 million annually.
The Solar Job Training Network surveyed more than 400 solar installers. Fully 38.7 percent of solar companies reported that each unfilled position costs each company $10,000 annually, while 13.7 percent said the costs were greater than $50,000 per position annually. That’s increasing the cost of deploying solar and causing companies to miss out on business opportunities.
“With more than 51,000 new solar jobs in the United States in 2016 alone, employers are facing the challenge of hiring qualified candidates to fill open positions,” said Andrea Luecke, president and executive director of The Solar Foundation, which administers the Solar Training Network. “Our research finds that making strategic investments in training can help the industry save millions of dollars and ultimately pass the reduced costs on to consumers.”
Given that the solar industry’s workforce has grown 247 percent over the last 5 years, it is no surprise that it is having difficulties finding new and qualified workers. With 260,077 jobs at the end of 2016, it’s also expected to grow another 10 percent, adding 26,258 positions, in 2017 the Solar Foundation’s National Solar Jobs Census 2016.
Increased investments in training would decrease soft costs passed on to customers. Labor costs can account for up to 11 percent of the total costs of a new solar system. Training and post-hire training would help reduce those costs by increasing labor efficiency and reducing call backs to re-install solar equipment and correct mistakes. Call-backs can cost installers between $2,500 to $7,500 per installation in labor. The report found that sufficient post-hire training could decrease call-backs 1 percent and save the solar sector up to $10 million in less than a year.
The report also highlighted that there are opportunities for rapid advancement for qualified solar installers. Qualified applicants with electrical, construction or roofing experience hired as entry-level installers received promotions and an average 45 percent pay increase within 6 to 12 months.Tweet