Image: NREL

A new study by researchers at Michigan Technological University and Oregon State has found that huge growth in solar-related employment could benefit coal workers, whose industry is being decimated, by easily absorbing layoffs over the next 15 years and offering new full-time careers. The U.S. solar industry is creating new jobs 12 times faster than the overall economy, and as of November 2015, employed more than 200,000 workers, surpassing the roughly 150,000 jobs remaining in the domestic coal industry. Using data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the researchers determined that for a relatively minor investment in retraining – $180 million to $1.8 billion – the vast majority of U.S. coal workers could switch to solar-related positions. The study, published in the journal Energy Economics, looked at coal jobs from engineers to mining and power plant operators to administrative workers, the skill sets required for each and the closest equivalent solar position and salary. The results show that there is a wide variety of employment opportunities in the solar industry, and that the annual pay is attractive at all levels of education, with even the lowest skilled jobs paying a living wage.

– via Harvard Business Review


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