The recent plummet of oil prices has caused thousands of layoffs in the oil and gas industry. Many of those workers are now finding work in the solar power industry.
This particular solar jobs story, by way of marketplace.org, takes place in one of the most well known oil states – Texas. According to The Solar Foundation, Texas is expected to add 900 solar jobs by the end of 2016. A good start but just a drop in the bucket compared to the tens of thousands of people that lost their oil jobs.
New workers at the Mission Solar warehouse in San Antonio are finding that their new solar jobs are a trade off. On the downside, they’re making considerably less. Many made six figures and are now settling for about $50,000 per year. Of course, many people would love to make that much. On the upside, the stress levels are greatly reduced due to more normal hours and more job security.
Hiring manager, Mariela Cruz, has said of many applicants – “You can generally tell that they’re trying to make a different transition, that they maybe are tired of the ups and the downs.” Although she also mentioned that many are only looking for temporary work until the oil and gas industry starts to offer more positions.
As the solar industry continues to grow, many more of those who lost their conventional energy jobs will find work in solar.
There are two primary factors that will make the solar power industry a great source of new jobs in the near future. One is that a very high percentage of the solar industry has yet to take shape. The second is that the solar industry can actually offer more employment. Solar jobs are more labor intensive compared to the more mechanized and capital intensive oil and gas operations. So more jobs can be created by solar, per unit of energy, than oil and gas or coal, for that matter.
The solar industry will one day be large enough to employ a significant percentage of the population.