The Renewable Energy Sector is an Increasingly Strong Source of Employment for Veterans
It’s Veteran’s Day here in the U.S. and though we love to celebrate our vets, the reality of how we treat our veterans is actually a lot more complicated. Between high homelessness rates, prescription drug addiction, and the fiasco earlier this year involving wait times at the VA, the nation faces daunting challenges in better serving its vets.
Another source of difficulty for vets can be finding a stable, worthwhile job. Monster Worldwide, the parent company of Monster.com and Military.com, put together a veterans talent index, detailing the skills of military service members entering the workforce. Though the report shows that the numbers are certainly better, all veterans–though particularly young veterans–are struggling to find work.
“Veterans’ top job search challenge remains the ability to communicate military skills in a way that employers can understand and utilize,” the report reads. “Two-thirds of surveyed veterans said that while they were prepared for their career transition out of the military and they felt hiring managers do not understand their skills and experience.”
One sector that is keen on veterans, however, is renewable energy. Renewables are currently experiencing a huge period of growth and vets have many of the necessary skills to tackle more technical jobs within the industry. It’s a case of understanding the skills vets possess and how best to utilize them in the modern workforce. It certainly helps that U.S. military is getting on board with renewable energy.
“The Department of Defense now has over 500 fixed installations worldwide, and projects have continued to grow ever since DOD opened 16 million acres of land for renewable energy development in 2012,” Michael Brower, president and CEO of the American Council on Renewable Energy, writes for Huffington Post. “These installations require trained personnel to help manage and maintain its functions, making these individuals ‘ready-made’ for similar roles in the private sector.”
Companies such as Tipping Point Renewable Energy in Columbus, Ohio, is just one of the private sector renewable energy companies looking to hire vets. The company, which only hires veterans, actively seeks out people like Ben Nolan, who was an active duty Marine for eight years. Nolan was out of work for 18 months upon completing his service.
“I've probably put my resume in to 300 places in the past year,” he told Military.com. "The farthest I've ever got was a phone interview."
While Tipping Point is a specific company that actively seeks out people like Nolan, there are also assistive programs specifically to helps veterans enter the renewable energy sector, such as the Denver-based Veterans Green Jobs–which has helped place 370 vets in the last four years–and Troops to Energy Jobs, a pilot program from five of the nation’s largest energy providers.
The government is also getting involved in the form of the INVEST (Incentives for our Nation’s Veterans in Energy Sustainability Technologies) Act, introduced by Representative Barbara Lee. The act does exactly as it says: it provides a tax incentive for renewable energy companies to hire veterans.
“It is a simple step that will have profoundly positive implications for creating good-paying jobs for veterans and developing a sustainable energy grid, improving energy efficiency and developing new technologies,” Lee said in a column for Huffington Post. “We should INVEST in our veterans, advanced technologies and our sustainable energy future. This legislation would achieve all three goals making it a win-win-win. During their service in our armed forces, our veterans gain expertise in advanced technologies, an expertise we can use in the civilian sector to build renewable energy infrastructure.”
As the renewable energy sector continues to grow, these kinds of programs and opportunities are becoming increasingly common, and really, it’s easy to see why, according to the U.S. Solar Institute.
“So here we have a large population of out-of-work but enthusiastic citizens, a certification course that you can complete in 40 hours, and an industry facing a labor gap,” they write. “All set against a backdrop of high unemployment and growing demand for solar installations. When you add all of this up, solar training for veterans really could make a world of difference.”
For the U.S. to bring its treatment of veterans to even acceptable levels, a “world of difference” is very much needed. Fortunately, the growth of the renewable energy sector is continuing to provide opportunities for employment and the much needed stability those returning from active duty so desperately need.
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