Quality solar training paired with internships to fight unemployment

GREEN Youth Training Programme

In our 10+ years of professional training in South Africa we have witnessed the growth of PV technology and how it became a serious industry of its own.

The industry has now reached a point where many skills are required and we are expanding our training to youth, skilling-up the young, motivated technicians who are desperately needed in the industry and at the same time, providing one way of overcoming the high youth unemployment rate.

We have designed a 13-month holistic programme to train unemployed youth as PV Mounters and to collaborate with GREEN Alumni to realise permanent employment for them. The skills the industry requires from these young installers – both hard and soft – have been communicated in regular stakeholder workshops. Therefore we shaped this training programme to meet those requirements to a T.

LifeChoices – the blueprint for our youth training programme

Our youth training programme was developed together with the NPO Life Choices, GREEN’s Academy Partner in Cape Town. Life Choices has successfully been implementing a training and internship programme of their own in the field of coding.

The Coding Academy is aimed at youngsters from disadvantaged backgrounds; while at Life Choices, they learn coding, design thinking and undergo professional development to prepare them for the working world. They are then assisted to secure internships, many of which turn into offers of full-time employment. The quality of the graduates is so high, that companies return time and again to snap up the next crop of interns.

Their well-established approach became the blueprint for our joint solar youth training. We identified good quality training, inclusion of personal development and business skills, and ongoing support for trainees and internships as key success factors for permanent employment of youth.

Technical, practical and personal skills development

Youth signing up for the GREEN Youth Training Programme will receive 320 hours of training in total, starting off with technical theory (taught in the classroom and online), followed by practical installation training at a GREEN Solar Academy and rounded off with intense soft-skills and life-coaching sessions to prepare them for the working world.

Between the classroom and the online training, which includes exercises, experiments with LeXsolar kits and demonstrations with practical equipment, students will explore the following topics:

  • Basics of electricity relevant to photovoltaics
  • Components of a PV system and their functions
  • Types of PV system configurations
  • How to perform a site survey and document the visit
  • How to calculate loads and energy demand
  • How to size the solar array and battery bank
  • Mounting options for solar modules
  • How to detect, address and document technical problems
  • What testing should be done when commissioning a system
  • How to do online monitoring and on-site maintenance of a PV system
  • How to market a business and approach clients

During the practical training which follows, the students will get practice the physical installation of handling components, fixing mounting structures, attaching modules, running cables, and more, on our specially-designed mock roofs that include tile, Klip-lok and IBR.

Soft skills include modules on goal setting, do’s and don’ts on site, communication, conflict resolution, financial literacy and more, and relevant industry advice comes in the form of live sessions with seasoned GREEN Technology Partners IBC Solar, iseli-energy, K2 Systems and Victron Energy.

Streamlining the hiring process for solar companies

The purpose of the internship is for the youths to gain practical working experience, and to develop a portfolio of work guided by a mentor from the GREEN Partner Company and, of course, the most desirable outcome: for the GREEN Partner Company to assess if there is potential for the intern to join as a full-time employee. Interns and companies will be matched through interviews, and coaching from GREEN and Life Choices mentors will continue to be available to the youths during their internships.

And at the end of the internship period, all interns will have the opportunity to participate in the SAPVIA PV GreenCard Assessment.

The internship is an integral part of the youth training program and we don’t expect the internship companies to carry this on their own. Life Choices and GREEN Solar Academy will be involved every step of the way, from the intern interviews and placement, throughout the internship process, and transitioning – hopefully – to gainful employment. Each intern will be assigned a mentor that will be checking in with them every week, ensuring their commitment and participation at the internship company. The mentor will also be the first point of contact for anything the internship company might need. We will be there to ensure the guidance of the intern as well as provide support to ensure their success.

Ensure you have the staff to meet the consumer demand for solar

South Africa is experiencing a a huge wave of growth in the solar industry. We estimate that the country needs 30,000 new installer per year to meet the demand. We want to enable and equip the youth of this country to become those skilled solar installers and show the solar industry that it is worth investing in the youth of our country. If we partner together to ensure this program is valuable and effective, we believe it can make a considerable dent in the youth unemployment problem that our country faces, and positively affect the growth of a booming solar industry at the same time.

Are you a solar company ready to support GREEN in its mission to bridge the gap between the future of energy and the energy of the future? Sign up to host trained interns from the first crop of students. Or send a youngster for training to skill him up for an internship with you? Get in touch with Brendon Reyneke at info@solar-training.org.