Obama’s New Jobs Plan Helps Veterans and the Environment

2014.9.23.solar.MainInstallation of photovoltaic solar panels on a roof. (Photo via Shutterstock)Now here’s a plan that makes sense: the Obama administration has revealed a new jobs initiative that teaches Americans how to install solar energy panels. Better still, the initiative will specifically target veterans, who often have trouble finding careers back at home. Helping the environment and veterans to support themselves? Talk about killing two birds with one stone!

The White House’s program, called the SunShot Initiative’s Solar Instructor Training Network, has already undergone a successful testing period on a smaller scale. In its early stages, the program has certified about 1,000 instructors, with the goal of training at least 50,000 new solar employees by the end of the decade.

The booming industry has already become a prime source of jobs in the country – nearly 150,000 Americans had full-time, solar energy-related jobs as of 2013. Given the country’s plans to shift toward solar power more aggressively, the number of people with these careers will also need to increase dramatically.

Though the program is not exclusive to military members, the Obama administration is taking steps to ensure that veterans have easy access to this training. To start, the SunShot program will be unveiled at military bases in order to explicitly target Americans who need a new trade after completing their military service.

“Service members in this pilot program will learn how to size and install solar panels, connect electricity to the grid, and interpret and comply with local building codes,” announced Dan Utech, an aid to Obama on energy and climate change. “This intensive training will prepare them for careers in the solar industry as installers, sales representatives, system inspectors, and other solar-related occupations.

To ensure that the veterans receive not only the training, but also well-paying jobs, SunPower, Vivint Solar and SolarCity, three of the nation’s most prominent solar companies, have vowed to interview candidates who have completed the SunShot program.

In a lot of ways, Obama’s hands are tied when it comes to addressing climate change since Congress is unwilling to pass useful legislation. However, this jobs plan is a way of circumventing Congress altogether with the power he does have in order to do something positive for the country.

This jobs plan isn’t the only solar initiative currently in the works. Additionally, the Agricultural Department has allotted $70 million to cover new solar projects specifically in farming communities.