Late last week, North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper visited the state’s first Clean Energy Youth Apprenticeship Pilot. Strata Clean Energy will be the new program’s first clean energy employer partner and is working with ApprenticeshipNC to develop a youth apprenticeship and registered apprenticeship program in Solar Operations and Maintenance.
Located at Halifax Community College, the apprenticeship, the Halifax Lighthouse Solar Camp, is the first hybrid model of its kind in North Carolina. Students in the program combine in-class experience with paid, on the job experience through Strata Clean Energy.
“We are honored to be a part of this critical program,” said Strata CEO Markus Wilhem. “Our hope is that this program will be used as a model for other counties and states to increase the number of qualified clean energy professionals. This is exceptionally crucial as states advance clean energy legislation as our industry continues to grow.”
In May 2021, 20 high school students began training as part of the pilot program to work in solar and wind energy jobs. Students will complete a hybrid program of 96 hours classroom instruction and 80 hours of paid, work-based learning. Upon completion of the program, students will receive a Solar Workforce Certificate and three industry certifications: OSHA 10 – Construction, Lean Six Sigma Yellow Belt Level, and Working Smart. North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University (NC A&T) is providing additional curriculum, and donations from members of the North Carolina Business Committee for Education (NCBCE) are paying for all student transportation and lunches.
The Clean Energy Youth Apprenticeship was developed in partnership with the Office of the Governor, NCBCE, NC Energy Office, NC A&T, NC Community Colleges, Halifax County Schools, Halifax Community College and the Center for Energy Education.
“North Carolina’s transition to a clean energy economy creates good paying jobs, and we need skilled workers who are trained and ready,” said Gov. Cooper. “It’s uplifting to see high school students from a variety of backgrounds getting the knowledge and skills they need to work in the growing fields of solar and wind power.”
As North Carolina moves to a clean energy economy, skilled workers are needed to fill jobs and help the industry grow.
“Each day I am learning more and more about teamwork, workplace safety, solar energy, and problem-solving,” said Zaniya Battle, a student in the program. “This camp is providing such a rewarding experience for me as I continue to network with my peers. The hands-on activities are very engaging and informative. I am learning more details about the three E’s of safety: Educate, Enforcement and Engineer.”
“This camp is like none-other,” commented student Penelope O’Neal. “Each week, we learn more skills to make us more marketable to potential employers. Our class discussed how we can make the work environment safer for everyone. We learned about risks and hazards and the difference between the two. A risk is the probability of something happening and a hazard is something that may happen.”
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