A brighter future
“Interested in the solar energy industry? Turn your curiosity into a bright career,” says Solar Energy UK’s new guide to jobs in the fast-growing solar sector, ‘Be part of a brighter future’.
The fact-packed booklet showcases the many career pathways available within solar energy, from designing panels to coding for smart home controls, installing rooftop systems and using drones to ensure ground-mounted solar farms run smoothly.
It marks the culmination of the first phase of the Mayor of London’s Solar Skills London project, run in conjunction with Solar Energy UK. The scheme passes into the management of the sector’s standards body, MCS, at the end of the month.
Strength to strength
“There has never been a better time to join the solar industry, which is going from strength to strength. Three times the number of residential-scale rooftop systems are being installed compared to only two years ago, pay is good and you get the satisfaction of helping to move the country towards cheaper bills and net zero,” said Chris Hewett, chief executive of Solar Energy UK.
Meanwhile, solar farms are becoming a more and more critical part of the national energy system. Together, solar energy systems supply more than 4% of the UK’s power, with the Government expecting to see capacity quadruple by 2035.
Trained labour shortage
This massive increase in output promises greener and cheaper power for the public, being more sheltered from the consequences of overseas crises. But it also means a jobs bonanza. The solar sector employed around 7,000 in 2020, a figure Solar Energy UK expects to rise to 60,000 in 12 years. Salaries are competitive, with installers making an average of over £35,000 a year, with technical architects reaching a salary of up to £78,000.
However, this promise will not be fulfilled without training people for the well-paid solar jobs of tomorrow – and the industry is crying out for people to join it, with hundreds of companies hiring right now.
That’s why the Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, is funding a series of free six-week boot camps to give young people a taste of a career in solar energy, conducted by South Thames College. Similar courses are or will be available at other colleges nationwide, including the Green Skills Academy in Greater Manchester. Solar companies are also recruiting apprentices directly.
The booklet describes why solar power is here to stay, with affordable systems that cut a home’s power bills after only a day or two’s work. It also describes the technologies included in solar energy systems – photovoltaic panels, inverters, smart meters, battery storage units and mounting gear. Solar thermal systems also remain an important part of the sector, directly harvesting the sun’s energy to provide hot water for showers, baths and swimming pools.
All roads lead to solar
You can enter the solar sector straight from school, study to become an electrician or specialise in solar by joining a solar company as an apprentice, getting paid to learn and work. You could also study for a degree in a relevant subject, such as BEng Electrical and Electronic Engineering or an architect degree apprenticeship. Other routes include entering the sector after studying law or computer science or extending skills gained in the construction industry.