A solar PV jobs fair in Guelph, Ontario… times have changed!

Five years ago the thought of any company holding a solar PV jobs fair, let alone in a community such as Guelph, Ontario, would have been absurd. But since the introduction of the province’s feed-in-tariff program for renewables, combined with local content requirements, we’re seeing a flurry of activity as manufacturers and suppliers get ready for what’s expected to be a busy year.

Just the microFIT alone — i.e. rooftop solar PV less than 10 kilowatts — has seen more than 25,000 applications approved, while larger projects that have been given the go-ahead under the FIT are expected to add more than 1,000 megawatts of solar PV to the grid over the coming two or three years. On Friday, solar PV manufacturer Canadian Solar will be holding a jobs fair in Guelph, the location of its new module manufacturing facility. The company is looking to hire process technicians, general operators, logistic staffs, engineers and others, a true sign of the type of job creation emerging from the FIT program and, behind it, Ontario’s Green Energy and Green Economy Act.

“We have a long-term commitment to this important market, and have previously announced our selection of Guelph, Ontario as the site of a 200 megawatt solar PV module plant,” said Shawn Qu, president and CEO of Canadian Solar. “This facility will be Canadian Solar’s first feed-in-tariff domestic content compliant solar manufacturing plant in Ontario, and is expected to require approximately 500 people to run at full capacity.”

The jobs fair, again, will be held Friday, February 11 at Canadian Solar’s new facility at 545 Speedvale Avenue West in Guelph (see Google Map here) between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m.

The folks who get hired — these are the faces of the future workforce in Ontario. They need to be known. Job numbers need to be personalized.┬áThe FIT/microFIT program has its problems, but evidence of job creation is the one thing that will┬ájustify and sustain Ontario’s direction. Ratepayers and taxpayers want to see evidence beyond politicians touting numbers that can’t be verified. It’s time to bring faces to numbers, and give people a true sense of what these jobs mean for those entering the workforce and those with families to support who are trying to get back into the workforce. It’s not just manufacturing, either. It’s about the installers, the electricians, the tradepeople and others finding work in the solar PV area. It’s also about the many faces who are participating in the microFIT — farmers, community co-ops, schools, homeowners, aboriginal communities. This isn’t just about foreign companies coming in to the province to feast on generous subsidies. This is about average Ontarians choosing to participate in the future of a cleaner electricity system. This is the message that needs to be heard.

NOTE: To anyone who gets a new job in this sector, let me know. I’d like to hear your story and how green energy in Ontario helped you find steady employment.