In 2017, African Americans made up 7 percent of the solar workforce nationally as compared to 13 percent of the overall African American workforce. This is a significantly larger gap than other people of color such as Asians and Hispanics.
To address this issue and increase diversity in the clean energy arena in eastern North Carolina, the Clean Energy Opportunity Diversity (CEOD) project, led by the NC Clean Energy Technology Center with support from the Z. Smith Reynolds Foundation, provided solar design and installation training and energy efficiency training to underrepresented populations in eastern North Carolina.
The forty-hour, week-long classes conducted at Halifax Community College helped scholarship recipients achieve national Photovoltaic (PV) Associate certification through North American Board of Certified Energy Practitioners and Building Analyst certification through the Building Performance Institute.
Through the CEOD scholarship program, Enessia Jones, a former teacher and single mother from Littleton, NC, took both solar PV and energy efficiency trainings.
“I learned so much from the week-long trainings,” Jones said. “I talk to almost anyone I know who will listen about my experience.”
Jones is currently considering her next career move in the North Carolina clean energy sector.
Along with Jones, Reco Pugh took the solar training and is working in the solar field. He plans to join Tradesmen International and has plans to start his own clean energy construction company.
“It changed my life, literally,” Pugh said. “I have a career. I enjoy going to work every day because I know what I’m doing will provide the world with much needed clean energy. I take pride in what I do.”