The COVID-19 pandemic has brought many truths to the forefront. Racial tensions have come to a head, roles previously considered low-skill or unskilled are now recognized as essential, and pain points across the American healthcare industry have been exposed for all to see. As vaccinations become more widespread and the economy begins to jostle for an official reopening, another unfortunate truth has come to the forefront: employability and the American national wage rate.
As it stands, the current federal minimum wage is $7.25 per hour, and businesses looking to set up for reopening are reporting that despite the 6.1 percent national unemployment rate, they have no prospective employees applying for minimum-wage roles. Expert comments from several reports say this is due to prospective employees making more money from unemployment – with the additional pandemic payment of $300 per week – than in a minimum-wage job. As such, many applicants are holding tight while waiting for employment opportunities with better potential for adequate remuneration.
For those who don’t have the padding of unemployment or are just seeking a new career post-pandemic, there is the burgeoning solar industry. Fueled by solid federal policy, rapidly declining costs for installation, and increasing demand, the solar industry has experienced an average annual growth rate of 42 percent. Luckily for job-seekers, this demand has resulted in a boom of employment opportunities for roles across all levels of the industry, particularly in sales.
Sales and other commission-based roles have traditionally been considered positions where ‘you get out what you put in.’ For the solar industry, it’s a little different due to its explosive growth. Trent Edmond, a Los Angeles-based DJ and music producer, turned to a sales role in the solar industry after the pandemic hit and performances were halted. Because of both federal and California state government initiatives reducing the financial burden of installing solar, Edmond hasn’t just managed to survive through the pandemic but excel, reporting earnings of as much as $20,000 in one week.
Another common deterrent for sales-based roles is the idea that it’s unethical to convince someone to buy something they don’t need. While this is true for non-essential products or services, the ethical problem is mitigated because not only is solar helping to combat harmful emissions that fuel climate change, but it also helps people save money in the long-term by producing, storing, and using electricity they have generated themselves.
The demand fueling the availability of these sales roles will likely persist. As it stands, solar has grown into its own robust economic engine, employing more than 230,000 Americans across more than 10,000 companies in every state. Additionally, the industry is generating billions of private investments into the economy, and those billions will ideally translate to an increasing availability of roles. Add in the declining costs for installation, roughly 70 percent over a decade, constantly updating federal and state initiatives, and high earning potential for employees, it’s likely solar will continue to be a major employer across the United States.
While the rest of the United States argues over a prevailing wage rate to assign value to essential roles, the solar industry will quietly continue to grow, continuing to attract workers from other industries and deliver prospective employees with considerable economic opportunities.
Alex Williams, Founding Partner of Solar Energy Partners leads the solar industry to help grow sales teams across California. By 2021, Solar Energy Partners is growing its footprint and ownership team to include a range of western and northern west U.S states.
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