Illinois solar contractor showcases successful apprenticeship program

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illinois solar contractor rethinking electricity recently launched its 2023 apprenticeship program. This year’s class is his largest ever with 23 apprentices.

“The Climate and Equitable Jobs Act (CEJA) signed by Governor Pritzker in 2021 and the Inflation Reduction Act signed by President Biden in 2022 are both contributing significantly to the current momentum in the Illinois solar market.” said Dawn Heid, CEO of Rethink Electric. “Not only is our business growing and creating jobs, but renewable energy contractors are in need of more skilled technicians to meet their project needs.”

credit: rethink energy

The competency-based apprenticeship cohort, called the Rethink Electrical Advanced Program (REAP), is an educational program originally developed by Rethink Electric in 2017 as a way to train its employees. Rethink currently has 96 employees, many of whom work for the company under REAP. For example, one of his REAP graduates joined Rethink Electric after working at a home improvement store and becoming interested in solar power. Currently he is the construction site supervisor for his 1 MW solar his rooftop project.

From day one, REAP participants have been paid Rethink Electric employees, often earning a regular wage. Apprentices are assigned jobs to learn the basics of solar construction, including how to use tools, how to operate the site, and completion of OSHA 10 safety certification. During her next four years, participants follow a traditional paid electrical apprenticeship that includes classroom work and hands-on vocational training, with the goal of graduating to craftsman level.

“Solar power can be complex and sometimes dangerous, which makes apprenticeship programs more important,” says Heid. “The people involved have taken it seriously.

Apprentices come from multiple sources throughout the state. Rethink Electric’s Director of Education contacts local high schools to partner with pre-apprenticeship programs through the Chicago Urban League Workforce Development Center.

The IRA promotes local apprenticeship programs and seeks affordable wages that enable disadvantaged individuals to build careers, boost local economies, and contribute to climate justice. Funded by CEJA To train a diverse workforce. With these incentives contributing to his REAP’s success, Rethink Electric is proud to have developed a workforce where his 60% of employees come from diverse backgrounds.

Rethink Electric developed the REAP apprenticeship to meet the needs of internal employment, but intends to extend its reach beyond Rethink’s employment path. REAP graduates have the skills necessary to work for non-union electrical contractors.

“Client project budgets next year are double what they are this year, so I can only imagine the growth other companies like ours are experiencing,” said Heid. So that we can help the entire industry shine. ”

Notice from Rethink Electric

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