Rather than focus on any one particular technology, the EFST training course educates the participants about the common technologies and service requirements that touch multiple markets, most notably the solar and electric vehicle charging equipment infrastructure.

Training Program for Military Veterans to Maintain Growing Solar and EV Infrastructure

Rue Phillips | True South Renewables

A first-of-its kind training program to certify military veterans and other qualified applicants to meet the growing need for electrical field service technicians (EFSTs) that maintain the country’s fast-growing solar power and electric vehicle infrastructure has been launched by Cerritos College in Norwalk, Calif. The program is the result of a partnership among Cerritos College’s Technology Division, the Advanced Transportation & Renewable Energy (ATRE) sector, a California Community Colleges workforce program, and True South Renewables, Inc., the largest independent solar operations and maintenance provider in the U.S.   The five-month college certification program will teach students how to maintain and repair solar photovoltaic (PV) systems, electric vehicle (EV) charging stations and equipment needing general maintenance.  Many top solar companies, including True South Renewables, have jobs waiting for graduates of the program.  

What were the determining factors that led to the EFST program being formed?

We were finding it difficult to find qualified candidates to service and maintain our customers’ solar installations and EV charging  stations.  We approached the Advanced Transportation & Renewable Energy (ATRE), part of California’s Economic and Workforce Development program, to work with California Community Colleges to develop a curriculum to re-train military veterans and others with electrician’s experience to serve the renewable energy industry.  The first class to present the jointly developed curriculum started this month at Cerritos College.

What are the contributions of each of the parties involved?

True South Renewables has been instrumental in providing the bulk of the materials needed for the electrical field service technician (EFST) training course.  Cerritos College has ensured the course has met all the requirements for the California community college system and ATRE has provided additional industry and California state government support.

Is there any similar college curriculum being taught in the U.S. or is this the first?

To our knowledge, this is the first college training program for EFSTs to repair and maintain renewable energy infrastructure.  Rather than focus on any one particular technology, the EFST training course educates the participants about the common technologies and service requirements that touch multiple markets, most notably the solar and electric vehicle charging equipment infrastructure.

What are the success metrics that will lead to the beta program’s expansion to other schools?

The success metrics will include full job placement by the beta program’s graduates, which is expected due to high industry demand.  Not only is True South Renewables planning to hire technicians who complete the course, but many of the largest companies in the industry have also committed to recruiting and hiring the newly trained EFST participants.

What does the program cover and what kind of job will a graduate qualify for?

Upon completion of the program, graduates will be certified within three modules: Solar Inverter Maintenance and Repair, Electrical Vehicle Service Equipment (EVSE) Maintenance and Repair, and Solar and EVSE Related Instrumentation and IT Products.

  • Typical job titles for graduates include:
  • Solar O&M Technician
  • Electronics Repair Technician
  • Solar PV Technician
  • Electric Vehicle Service Equipment Technician
  • Solar monitoring equipment Technician
  • Test Equipment Technician

How long does it take to complete the program?

The training program runs five months and the graduate is awarded a certification upon successful completion.

How does a candidate find out if they quality for the program?

Interested candidates should contact Jannet Malig of the ATRE at jmalig@cerritos.edu for more information.  For more information about ATRE, please visit: http://www.atreeducation.org/

Who should an employer contact if they would like to interview program graduates for jobs?

Employers should also contact Jannet Malig.




About Rue Phillips, CEO, True South Renewables
Active in industrial and commercial electrical contracting since 1985, Rue Phillips is a pioneer in the installation of electric vehicle supply equipment (EVSE ).  He installed the first GM EV1 EVSE from the production line and designed, installed and serviced hundreds of public, private, municipal and commercial EVSEs. Upon noticing that most EV drivers owned a solar system as well, he became active in the development, design, engineering and installation of over 350MW of commercial solar systems in the U.S. and Canada.  He co-founded a successful U.S. operations and maintenance company – True South Renewables – which, after merging with Solarrus in 2012, is now considered the largest independent solar O&M services company in the U.S.

The content & opinions in this article are the author’s and do not necessarily represent the views of AltEnergyMag

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