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The Laborers’ International Union of North America

Large-Scale Solar: Expanding the Clean Energy Workforce with a Pathway to High-quality Union Jobs

The Laborers’ International Union of North America (LiUNA) Laborers Local 17 developed a training program to address the need for large-scale, ground-mounted photovoltaic (PV) installers in New York State. Through NYSERDA’s funding program for Energy Efficiency and Clean Technology Program Link opens in new window - close new window to return to this page. the organization is expanding its training capacity with the help of Eastern NY Laborers Training Center to meet the needs of the large-scale PV labor market. Laborers Local 17 and Eastern NY Laborers Training Center and program are integral to New York’s transition to 70% renewable energy by 2030. Additionally, this program demonstrates one of the ways NYSERDA is helping expand access to high-quality, family-sustaining jobs, including union jobs.

Training for the Future

A variety of instructional methods are being utilized for training. Laborers Local 17 members receive hands-on training as well as virtual sessions to ensure compliance with federal and state regulations. Laborers Local 17 was able to purchase and utilize state-of-the-art equipment, tools and supplies through NYSERDA’s Workforce Development and Training Program.

In total, the program will deliver more than 400 hours of classroom instruction and 4000 hours of on-the-job training to more than 100 pre-apprentices, apprentices, and journey workers.

“Thanks to the generous funding from NYSERDA, we have been able to provide essential training in Large Ground Mounted PV installation to our members and individuals from disadvantaged communities. The Laborers Training Program serves as a crucial pipeline for supplying skilled workers to the solar industry contractors. This support is instrumental in creating opportunities, fostering growth, and driving positive change in the renewable energy sector.”

— Todd Diorio, President of the Eastern NY Laborers District Council 

A Local Career Pathway

Trainees are members of Disadvantaged Communities and Priority Populations, including transitioning fossil fuel workers, across the Capital Region and the Mohawk and Hudson Valleys. Laborer’s Local 17 outreach efforts included engagement with school districts, Local Workforce Development Boards (LWDB), Community Colleges, community-based organizations and many more. This proactive recruitment reached residents across seven (7) counties of Upstate New York.

Nearly half (45%) of program graduates are new entrants to the clean energy industry, while the remaining (55%) trainees are seasoned journey workers who are being upskilled.

Training Program Overview

The program consists of 60 hours of the following classes:

  • Solar Energy International C525 Large Scale Ground Mounted Photovoltaic Installation Safety
  • Tool Safety Training
  • Large-scale Ground mounted PV Installation Hands-on Training
  • Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) 10
  • Ladder Safety
  • First Aid/Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR)
solar panel workers

Additional Supports

Individuals participating in Laborers Local 17’s program are eligible for supportive services that include service coordination, financial, digital, and health literacy, transportation, and child support. Supportive services are an evidence-based workforce development strategy that assists in building a diverse, skilled workforce.

Have questions about clean tech training?

Contact [email protected] for more information.