1-Year Youth Solar Training Project

Work-ready interns to meet solar industry demand

12-Month Programme – 8-week training + 10-month internship
Practical & theoretical solar training + lifeskills training
Support for host companies and interns

The Solar Youth Academy is a dynamic youth development program developed as a partnership between GREEN Solar Academy and Life Choices. The program’s mission is to address the critical skills shortage of Solar specific technical skills in South Africa’s solar sector.

The two companies combine over 20 years’ experience in solar and youth education respectively to offer this first youth solar training programme of its kind. Together they aim to train the workforce needed to successfully implement a just energy transition in South Africa.

There is already a programme in operation in South Africa that aims to upskill a total of 138 youths over a period of 3 years. The pilot project has accepted 23 participants from the Western Cape and they started their training journey on 6 May 2024.

Find out all about the project and the internships that form part of it below:

“Training for a just energy transition is not just a slogan on my T-shirt. For me it means developing training programmes for all, not just for professionals, but also for youth. And looking for ways to work with other institutions and donors to make training accessible to all” says Antje Klauss-Vorreiter, co-founder and CEO of GREEN Solar Academy.

Programme has two distinct phases

The Solar Youth Academy offers a 12-Month upskilling program that consists of two phases – phase one is training and phase two is internship:

During the first phase, the candidates undergo an intensive technical and professional development training program. They will receive comprehensive training in Solar PV mounting, installation, testing, commissioning, and maintenance. Additionally, the program includes soft skills and professional development training, ensuring candidates are work-ready for phase two.

The syllabus

The solar training programme is based on GREEN Academy’s DGS and SAIEE-accredited courses and consists of the following:
• 3-weeks of blended learning using the GREEN PV Off-Grid Technician eLearning course, DGS accredited
• 2-weeks GREEN Solar 101, DGS accredited
• 2-weeks GREEN PV Mounter training with real work simulation on live rooftops, DGS and SAIEE accredited, validation number SAIEE-3238-V
• 1-week of industry engagement through site visits, guest talks and lectures
• 2-weeks of blended life skills, professional development and work readiness training.

The syllabus of hard and soft skills has been crafted to meet very specific objectives, based on extensive industry stakeholder meetings and Life Choices’ experience in community upliftment initiatives. The participants will not only experience quality PV training to increase their access to opportunities in the solar industry but also training to increase their communication and leadership skills.

Equipped with these tools, the graduates will be primed to rise above the high rate of unemployment in South Africa. And make no mistake: the overarching goal of this programme is employment for every participant.

The first cohort celebrated the end of their eight-week training programme and the beginning of their internship period with a special ceremony on Friday 28 June. Many of the group have already secured internships with companies like Energ Africa, Solareff, Cape Solar and more. Read about the graduation ceremony and see all the pics from the day on our blog.

Internship phase

Following the technical upskilling, successful candidates will embark on a 10-Month industry-related internship, providing them with real-world experience on solar projects. Host employers commit to a stipend of minimum wage or more over the period and will receive continuous support through Life Choices’ dedicated team to ensure that the internship is successful through:

  • Matchmaking: Ensure the individual is best suited for the host company.
  • HR Support & Direct Support: Dedicated account team and access to HR support and employment frameworks.
  • Marketing: Continuously promote the efforts of the host company to local and global stakeholders.
  • Conflict Resolution: Support any challenges and disputes if they arise to bring swift resolve.

The interns will also have access to mentorship and guidance during their internship journey.

The interns will return to the training academy towards the end of their internship period for final training and assessment.

The final training phase and probably the most important is the workplace experience. “We can teach young people skills, but putting them into practice on a daily basis is a much-needed, priceless experience,” says Amanda Dzivhani, COO of GREEN Solar Academy, who also started as an intern in the PV industry and can therefore speak from her own experience.

Industry exposure

Thanks to their relationships with stakeholders from a variety of bodies within the solar industry, GREEN Solar Academy is able to organise for expert talks by industry players as well as field excursions to manufacturing plants and site visits. An example of the kind of industry interaction the pilot cohort has been exposed to includes sessions with solar distributor IBC Solar, inverter manufacturer Fronius and installation company Renewable Energy Design Engineering (REDE) (Pty) Ltd.

The speaker from REDE is in fact a GREEN Solar Academy alumna herself. Nkuli Matunjana is a trade-tested and qualified electrical engineer who used to work in the solar programme at Life Choices and currently works at REDE on electrical and solar PV installation projects.

GREEN Alumna Nkuli Matunjana took the opportunity to share lessons learnt with the students while also preparing them for entry into the solar industry.

Suitable trainee candidates

Suitable candidates are unemployed young people between the ages of 22 and 28 who are interested in starting a career in the PV industry. They should have matric and have completed their N4 to N6 electrical engineering qualifications through a TVET college.

The current training that will see 138 youths trained over 3 years is offered at no cost to the participants. Partial funding has been received from an international donor, with GREEN and Life Choices drawing deeply on their own resources to contribute trainers, equipment and expertise.

What sort of jobs can the interns take up at host companies?

• PV Installation or module mounting
• Technical Support/O&M
• Basic system design
• Admin, Sales & Marketing

Meet the implementing partners

GREEN Solar Academy is an internationally accredited provider of professional short courses in solar energy, with academies across Africa and its roots in Germany. Training young people is not part of GREEN’s day-to-day business, but it is a matter close to the heart of the entire team. In 2022, the idea was born to develop a training programme for young people based on the GREEN courses. “But young people tick differently, have different experiences, and most often require an entirely different approach to our standard one. It was clear that we could only do this if we teamed up with a youth training organisation.”

The GREEN Solar Academy Cape Town is run by Life Choices, an experienced Youth Training Organisation, which has already an exceptional track record of implementing youth capacity building and skills training programmes. More than 450 young people have been trained in coding through Life Choices’ Coding Academy; and more than 80% of these were assisted by Life Choices to secure jobs, of which 69% were in coding-related fields.

It is on the basis of their success with the Coding Academy, and from the lessons learnt over the years, that Life Choices embarked on this pilot solar youth project.

Life Choices management, GREEN trainers and interns

GREEN Solar Academy management team and trainers

“Youth unemployment remains a national pressing issue, and our program and partnership with GREEN takes great pride in offering solutions to equip our youth with future-proof skill sets, ensuring they are poised to excel in emerging industries and advance their careers,” says Ryan Geel, Campus Director at Life Choices. “Moreover, they will serve as ambassadors, inspiring others to follow suit.”

How to get involved

Do you wish to become a host company for the youth being trained through our existing programme? Do you have your own group of youngsters who would be a credit to the booming solar industry with the right skills training and opportunities? Then get in touch with us!