Talent demand exceeding supply for some solar job roles, recruiters warn

Students at a Solar Energy International training facility in Colorado. Image: Solar Energy International.

Demand for skilled solar workers is outstripping supply for roles such as electricians and sales professionals, with employers battling to secure the top talent as PV deployment accelerates.

That is according to recruitment companies spoken to by PV Tech Premium that have called on the solar sector to heighten its focus on workforce training and attract candidates from other industries to avoid a potential hiring bottleneck.

This article requires Premium SubscriptionBasic (FREE) Subscription

Unlock unlimited access for 12 whole months of distinctive global analysis

Photovoltaics International is now included.

  • Regular insight and analysis of the industry’s biggest developments
  • In-depth interviews with the industry’s leading figures
  • Unlimited digital access to the PV Tech Power journal catalogue
  • Unlimited digital access to the Photovoltaics International journal catalogue
  • Access to more than 1,000 technical papers
  • Discounts on Solar Media’s portfolio of events, in-person and virtual

Or continue reading this article for free

In the US, manufacturers of modules, inverters and trackers are all fighting for the same high calibre sales professionals due to rapidly increasing project sizes and a larger capacity of products to sell, said Jamie Taylor, managing director of onshore renewables at recruitment consultancy Taylor Hopkinson.

“Therefore, demand well exceeds supply and companies need to be smarter with their hiring strategy.”

According to Taylor, the recruitment needs of the solar sector are changing regularly, with periods when development talent is in high demand followed by the need for construction professionals and then workers to carry out operations and maintenance tasks.

And with an increase in the number of solar-plus-storage projects, Taylor Hopkinson’s clients are now pushing for candidates to have experience in both technologies, especially from an engineering perspective.  

Research published last year revealed the number of jobs in the global solar PV industry could increase almost 10-fold by 2050 if the world transitions to derive 100% of its energy from renewables by 2050, by which time there would be 60 million solar workers, most in the utility-scale segment.

An increase in solar project sizes has impacted US-based workforce management platform Workrise, whose industry partners require crew members with large-scale PV construction experience and an understanding of safety concepts along with the ability to follow project execution plans.

Hao Meng, the company’s head of renewables, said the nationwide demand for talent in infrastructure, renewable energy, data centres, electric vehicles and high-tech manufacturing is creating a shortage among electricians in the US.

“These workers’ skills are highly transferable and in demand so the competition for their services is high,” she said.

Having changed its name from RigUp early last year to reflect its expansion from serving the oil and gas industry to sectors such as solar, wind and construction, Workrise raised US$300 million in a Series E funding round in May. The firm’s platform matches workers with employers, manages payroll and provides access to training.

Meng said the solar industry needs to continue investing in the training and upskilling necessary to fill the skills gap: “If we are investing in our workers, it’s going to have a positive impact on the entire skilled labour ecosystem.”

According to Taylor, more can be done from an educational perspective, such as by increasing the number of courses and university degrees available in renewable energy and solar engineering.

He said: “Upskilling and reskilling existing workers in transferable sectors is a popular solution and it is common for those working in oil and gas, electrical or infrastructure projects to seek a move into the booming renewable energy industry.”

21 August 2024
5pm BST
FREE WEBINAR -This webinar will feature the perspectives and views of PV Tech’s Head of Research, Dr. Finlay Colville, on how the U.S. PV manufacturing landscape is changing today and when we might expect additions to encompass cells and wafers. This will be followed by a PV Tech special – a look inside one of the first new PV module fabs built in the U.S. this year; SEG Solar’s new site in Texas. Join Jim Wood, CEO at SEG Solar, as he walks around the new factory showing key features and explaining the rational for SEG Solar in making this investment into U.S. PV manufacturing in 2024.
8 October 2024
San Francisco Bay Area, USA
PV Tech has been running an annual PV CellTech Conference since 2016. PV CellTech USA, on 8-9 October 2024 is our second PV CellTech conference dedicated to the U.S. manufacturing sector. The event in 2023 was a sell out success and 2024 will once again gather the key stakeholders from PV manufacturing, equipment/materials, policy-making and strategy, capital equipment investment and all interested downstream channels and third-party entities. The goal is simple: to map out PV manufacturing in the U.S. out to 2030 and beyond.
17 June 2025
Napa, USA
PV Tech has been running PV ModuleTech Conferences since 2017. PV ModuleTech USA, on 17-18 June 2025, will be our fourth PV ModulelTech conference dedicated to the U.S. utility scale solar sector. The event will gather the key stakeholders from solar developers, solar asset owners and investors, PV manufacturing, policy-making and and all interested downstream channels and third-party entities. The goal is simple: to map out the PV module supply channels to the U.S. out to 2026 and beyond.

Read Next

July 12, 2024
Even though the solar PV market in Ecuador is currently non-existent, with only a few projects operational and mostly in the distributed generation market, it is about to take off, says José Luis García Pérez, Latin America’s CEO at Spanish developer Zelestra, formerly known as Solarpack.
July 4, 2024
A collective effort will be required to realise the potential of the solar PV industry, according to Sonia Dunlop of the Global Solar Council.
July 2, 2024
Carbon has announced plans for its next facility, a research and development (R&D) and training facility in Istres, southern France.
July 1, 2024
A Lawrence Berkeley National Lab report has quantified the improving value of solar and wind power in the US.
June 27, 2024
Last week’s Intersolar Europe 2024 event saw the PV industry’s leaders meet in Munich to discuss the biggest trends in the sector.
June 20, 2024
EIT InnoEnergy has launched the European Solar Academy to help train 65,000 people to work in the European PV sector.

Subscribe to Newsletter

Upcoming Events

Upcoming Webinars
July 31, 2024
1:00 PM (BST) / 2:00PM (CEST)
Solar Media Events
September 24, 2024
Warsaw, Poland
Solar Media Events
September 24, 2024
Singapore, Asia
Solar Media Events
October 8, 2024
San Francisco Bay Area, USA