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Veterans and women graduate from two new RCBC programs prepared for careers

Solar panels

Rowan College at Burlington County’s (RCBC) first Solar Ready Vets program graduates, and the third graduating class of the college’s Women in Sustainable Employment (WISE) program, were celebrated on Thursday, Jan. 12 at the Enterprise Center in Mount Laurel.

The programs, offered through RCBC’s Workforce Development Institute, provided free training to military members transitioning out of the service and women to prepare them for new careers in energy and construction industries.

Eleven students from Solar Ready Vets, which was developed by the U.S. Department of Energy, graduated on Thursday, Jan. 12 in a ceremony at 1 p.m. in the Enterprise Center, room 144. The students are all military members from either the Army, Air Force or Navy who are preparing to enter civilian life.

“These military members who are transitioning out the service are uniquely qualified for new careers in the growing field of solar energy because of the hands-on training they received at Rowan College at Burlington County and the technical and interpersonal skills they gained in the service,” said Burlington County Freeholder Ryan Peters, a former Navy SEAL and current Lieutenant Commander in the Naval Reserve. 

According to The Solar Foundation, New Jersey is one of the top 20 solar job states. In addition, a Solar Energy Industries Association’s report found that New Jersey was the fourth largest “Solar State” based on cumulative solar electric capacity installed.

The six-week Solar Ready Vets program prepared participants for the North American Board of Certified Energy Practitioners Entry Level Exam and solar-related jobs like photovoltaic (PV) system installers, sales representatives, and system inspectors. They also had the opportunity to meet with 14 different solar energy employer partners.

Solar Ready Vets Program Manager from the U.S. Department of Energy Stephanie Kline, Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst Commander Colonel Frederick D. Thaden, and Solar Ready Vets graduate U.S. Air Force Technical Sergeant Steven Gatchell spoke at the graduation ceremony.

“The Solar Ready Vets Program is a really great opportunity,” said Col. Frederick D. Thaden, 87th Air Base and Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst commander. “JB MDL is one of only 10 bases nationwide that hosts this program. Solar Ready Vets is a fantastic opportunity for our service members because the program provides the high-quality training needed to confidently transition from military duty into the civilian work force. Through SRV, our veterans gain knowledge, marketable skills, and an opportunity for a successful future.”

On Thursday, Jan. 12 at 3:30 p.m. in the Enterprise Center, room 135, 12 women graduated from RCBC’s third WISE class. WISE prepares women for nontraditional employment opportunities in energy and construction industries. The program introduces women to positions that include mechanic, laborer, plant operator, carpenter and meter reader.

“More than a third of our graduates from the first and second WISE programs have new careers with leading utility companies,” said RCBC President Paul Drayton. “The program is a successful example of Rowan College at Burlington County’s, and the Burlington County Board of Chosen Freeholder’s, shared vision of public and private partnerships that will benefit the community by providing students with in-demand skills and companies with a prepared workforce.”

WISE is supported by a partnership among the college, Burlington County Workforce Development Board, PSEG, New Jersey American Water, South Jersey Gas, Atlantic City Electric, The Sisters in the Brotherhood – Northeast Regional Council of Carpenters, and New Jersey Resources, a natural gas provider in northern and central New Jersey.

To learn more about the Solar Ready Vets program, please visit gomdl.com/solar-ready-vets. The next Solar Ready Vets class starts at RCBC on Monday, March 6. This class will be open to military members transitioning out of the service, honorably discharged veterans, as well as civilians. 

Interested WISE participants are encouraged to attend an information session. For more information on the WISE program or to register for an information session, please contact Linda Bobo of the Rowan College at Burlington County Workforce Development Institute at lbobo@rcbc.edu or 856-222-9311, ext. 2535.