Blog Published: June 2023
As an employee-owned cooperative, part of our purpose at Namaste Solar is to create careers that are well-paying and accessible to more people. We are especially interested in encouraging more people to pursue the path to being an electrician. The trades have seen a decline in interest, but electricians are in high demand – especially if we want to meet our climate goals. Namaste Solar’s goal is to remove barriers to entry in our job roles. In doing so, we open doors to even more candidates while creating more opportunities for us to find talent.
What Does the Path to Becoming an Electrician Look Like?
A new installer at Namaste Solar will start with a week of educational and safety training sessions. After that, they are placed on a training crew that will show them the essentials of solar installation and job site safety. The training crew environment is designed to create space for new hires to ask questions, go slow, and repeat tasks to dial in new skills. This ensures that anyone coming in, regardless of experience, will have the base knowledge and core safety skills needed when they eventually join their full-time installation crew.
Namaste Solar then provides the opportunity for installers to go through basic electrical training at Independent Electrical Contractors Rocky Mountain (IECRM) by covering full tuition plus the cost of the first year of textbooks.
O&M Lead Electrician, Andy Rasmussen experienced this support firsthand throughout his career at Namaste Solar. “I was a fledgling electrician when I first got here. I had done some basic house wiring and almost a year of solar installation when I got here. Namaste Solar paid for me to go through IECRM to get my license and encouraged me to move in the direction of getting my Residential Wireman (RW) license, then my Journeyman Wireman (JW) license, and now my master’s license. They’ve support me every step of the way.”
IECRM helps apprentices to earn while they learn by allowing them to work full time in the field for their employer while going through the IEC Electrical Apprenticeship Program. It’s a great training model that allows apprentices to apply the knowledge they are learning in their one night a week classes to develop their on-the-job skills. Participants can come to the program with no prior experience and walk away with credits toward a bachelor’s or associate degree.
The opportunities open up after this education. Once someone becomes a journeyman, they can complete work in industrial, commercial, residential, or maintenance settings. And finding a job becomes a lot easier since having a license boosts credibility. The next step after journeyman would be to become a master electrician, which introduces more job flexibility, higher pay, and the ability to supervise other apprentices and electricians. With these licenses, installers can go on to build well-paying careers either at Namaste Solar or elsewhere (but we are always happy to have them stay with us).
More Electricians, Fewer Barriers to Entry
We know the world needs more electricians. And we think people need fewer barriers to entry in these careers. That’s why we value our partnership with IECRM and the training opportunities we offer to new hires.
“When I started, I was purely an AC electrician doing commercial installs, offices, grocery stores, gas stations, that type of stuff,” said Jonny Miller, O&M Portfolio Manager, “Namaste Solar just expanded my knowledge of the solar field because I had zero experience with solar when I started. They provided training plus the opportunity to be a co-owner and learn how the business operates on a higher level as well.”
It’s because we are breaking down the barriers to entry and providing the training people need to do their job well, that we hire and retain such impactful talent like Jonny, Andy, and so many other employees at our company! We aren’t just providing jobs, we are helping people launch their careers, build lifelong relationships, find mentors, learn how to run a business, gain community, and so much more!