Dominion Energy is one of 20 organisations that joined forces to launch SHINE – Solar Hands-On Instructional Network of Excellence – which trains solar installers at Southside Virginia Community College and maximizes local talent to meet the growing demand for clean energy jobs.
The inaugural class recently graduated, and the hands-on training program will link graduates with potential employers in the solar energy field. The next group of students began training.
The program is one of several ways Dominion Energy is investing in workforce development, as clean-energy jobs become a more and more important part of Virginia's economy. Solar jobs alone nearly doubled from 2015 to 2018, according to the Solar Energy Industries Association, which recently ranked the Commonwealth 7th in the nation for future solar growth. Offshore wind development could create up to 37,000 jobs in Virginia, according to the Hampton Roads Planning District Commission.
"We have a strong history of creating job opportunities across Virginia. Many of those jobs now support the Commonwealth's transition to a clean-energy future," said Matt Kellam, military and recruitment program coordinator at Dominion Energy. Kellam is a veteran of the United States Marine Corps Reserves and chairperson of the Virginia Energy Workforce Consortium. "As we continue to build wind and solar projects, we are also creating new opportunities for workers in Virginia."
Dominion Energy, which recently announced the largest commercial offshore wind project in the U.S., has committed to having 3,000 megawatts of solar and wind energy in operation or under development in Virginia by 2022. That's enough to power 750,000 homes. As energy sources evolve, so do the skills needed to support them. Among other things, Dominion Energy is helping to develop the future workforce by:
- Training current employees to access and inspect offshore wind turbines. They are learning everything from first aid to working at heights. Next, they will learn sea survival skills. Recent classes were conducted in partnership with Siemens Gamesa Renewable Energy, in advance of the Coastal Virginia Offshore Wind project. Two 6-megawatt turbines will be installed and begin generating clean energy next year.
- Partnering with Tidewater Community College since 2010 to help build a curriculum for clean-energy education. A leader in training clean-energy workers, the college created one of the first Career Studies Certificates in Renewable Energy Technologies. More than 50 students have gone through the programme, and a dozen more are enrolled this fall.
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- Supporting students at West Virginia colleges and universities to acquire career skills in energy. The company funded the Dominion Energy Natural Gas Measurement Laboratory at West Virginia University and provides financial support for qualifying students in their Petroleum and Natural Gas Engineering programme. Dominion Energy supports similar programs at the state's Pierpont Community and Technical College, Bridge Valley Community and Technical College, and West Virginia Northern Community College. These programmes are important because natural gas is a great partner for renewable sources of energy. It helps fill in the gaps when the sun isn't shining and the wind isn't blowing.
- Remaining a major employer of military veterans, with one in five new hires being a veteran. The company proudly supports troops to Energy Jobs, which helps veterans successfully transition to a career in the energy industry. For 11 years running, G.I. Jobs has named Dominion Energy a Top Military-Friendly Employer (and the highest-ranking energy company on the list). The company also has received the Employer Support of the Guard and Reserves Freedom Award from the US Department of Defense and the V3 Influencer Award from the Virginia Values Veterans programme.
- Maintaining a robust internship programme that opens doors to a range of clean-energy jobs. The company employs more than 320 interns each year and recently hosted a diversity student conference to attract top talent from more than 70 universities and colleges across the country. Hear the students talk about the conference in their own words.
Dominion Energy also is developing initiatives to retrain existing employees, as it maps a balanced, reliable and cost-effective approach to a clean energy future. The company is evaluating existing skill sets, identifying new skill sets needed to support its clean energy investments, and determining if any training and development opportunities are needed for employees to be prepared for the jobs of the future.