Construction in Florida is up 47% in 2014 according to labor forecasts released recently. 95% of the contractors surveyed said that they plan to hire in 2015 but surveys also report finding talent has become a large obstruction to continued growth.
Reports show that the growth will continue in the retail, hotel and warehouse industries. Construction will be particularly strong after rebounding from the housing crisis despite having lost many skilled workers who migrated to other markets during this period.
The solar construction industry is also growing quickly, even more so than the rest of the construction market. According to the National Solar Jobs Census, there has been 86% growth in the past five years, and 22% growth in the last year alone. In comparison to the rest of the job economy, the solar industry is adding jobs almost 20 times faster than the national average.
Both The US Solar institute and Florida Solar One are proof of this growth. These Broward County based solar companies have hired new installers and engineers this year with more hiring planned in the next few months.“ There is a strong demand in the market for solar right now,” Said Ray Johnson of USSI and Florida Solar One. “We need a skilled workforce to meet that demand. While we are helping to train the workforce through USSI, there are many more jobs to be filled in this market while the industry continues it’s annual double digit growth for the 10th consecutive year nationally.”
Florida Power and Light recently offered $15.4 million in solar rebates, a move that promises further economic growth in the Florida solar market. The rebate dollars could lead to over $50 million in solar construction dollars, according to Johnson.
“Our enrollment is up because the market is very underserved with qualified trained solar workers, much like most other construction trades in Florida.” Johnson continued. “Considering over $5 million in Department of Energy grant funds that poured into Broward County to prepare the South Florida market for this forecasted rise in solar construction, the market does not have many qualified workers or an expedited permit process – both areas that Broward County received major federal funding for.
Since 2009 Broward County-based technical schools were awarded over $4 million to train solar workers only a few years ago, boasting to train 1,400 workers, but many companies in the South Florida market have yet to see a single workers from that program.
US Solar Institute is actively preparing men and women for the solar industry, with online and in person courses here in South Florida. Going through the USSI solar training program prepares students with the real-world skills they need to design and install full solar systems. USSI is also a certified NABCEP prep school, preparing students for their solar certification exams.