In recent years, we have noticed – and are certainly feeling here locally – a severe shortage of workers. At Brilliant Harvest, we have a fantastic core team but it has become very difficult to find enough installers to satisfy the demand for solar projects in the region. The current shortage of skilled labor is hitting the solar industry hard.
According to a recent article by Reuters, the Inflation Reduction Act has the potential to create 537,000 jobs annually over the next 10 years but that there is “… a labor shortage that threatens to derail President Joe Biden’s climate change agenda.”
According to another article by Reuters, “Nearly 90% of solar companies surveyed [in 2021] said it was difficult finding quality applicants, the report said.” They didn’t survey us – but we are in total agreement.
A 2022 article by Forbes states, “Over 40% of the current U.S. construction workforce is expected to retire over the next decade. In addition, the current shortage of some 430,000 construction-industry workers is fully expected to expand over the next two years.”
Locally, there are numerous barriers to attracting workers in a wide variety of industries. Tops on that list is the cost of living, which is sky-high, especially given recent huge jumps in rental costs. According to a January article in Sarasota Magazine, “The median rent nationwide increased by 17.6 percent, from $1,099 in January 2021 to $1,293 in December 2021. However, Sarasota County far eclipsed those numbers when rents went up by 42.5 percent that same year.”
Employers simply can’t afford to increase wages at the same rate. If existing and future residents want any sort of workforce to meet all of their many needs, our communities need to figure out how to make living here more affordable. A community in which only the rich can afford to live is going to find out the hard way that they need the rest of us to keep society running.
We all need to do better if we are to attract and nurture new generations of skilled laborers. Many young people are now questioning the value of a college education, understandably concerned about incurring a lifetime of debt. Others simply may not prefer to pursue higher education. And, as this article by Vox points out, young millennials and Gen Z definitely aren’t dreaming of labor jobs (although, to be fair, our country hasn’t exactly treated our workforce kindly for many decades and the pandemic has further burned out and disillusioned Americans, especially those working lower-paying jobs).
Many industries – including solar – definitely need to offer more welcoming workplaces for women and people of color, who are severely underrepresented in the construction arena.
For anyone who enjoys technical pursuits, likes to work with their hands, and is fascinated by emerging technologies, we would encourage them to consider the solar industry, which offers many stable, fascinating and great-paying jobs. The Solar Energy Industries Association notes that solar has experienced an average annual growth rate of 33% over the past decade and tens of thousands of new jobs are being added each year. Positions can range from roof tech (installation), electrician, project manager/administrator, warehouse/inventory and estimating/system design to sales, accounting, and marketing.
According to SEIA, “Solar occupations earn wages comparable to or better than those same occupation types in other industries. For example, wages for solar workers continue to beat other industry averages, when comparing pay for positions such as construction managers, electricians and installers.”
If you think your child might have an aptitude and interest in the field of renewable energy, we would be happy to offer guidance on their course of study to ensure they are on the right track. Please reach out to us.
And if you have a friend who is looking for a field that’s on the cutting edge, who is looking for future career growth, is looking for a job that pays well and has good benefits, and wants to work in an industry that will help in the fight against climate while enabling people to take back control of their energy costs … tell them to give us a call!