As the solar industry continues to grow at a jaw dropping pace, companies are faced with the challenge of scaling up a skilled workforce to meet the increasing demand. Signature Solar, along with their sister company EG4, has taken a proactive approach to this challenge by investing heavily in learning and development programs for their teams.

In a recent conversation with Tasha Watson, Senior Manager of Learning & Development at Signature Solar, we learned about the company’s commitment to education and the various initiatives they have implemented to support their team’s growth. With a key belief that “solar is for everyone,” Signature Solar aims to provide high quality solar products and information accessible to all. They recognize that a well-educated workforce is crucial to achieving this goal.

One of the key components of Signature Solar’s internal learning and development strategy is their STEP [Program], which stands for Signature Solar Training and Education Program. This program provides NABCEP learning pathways to help their team gain the knowledge needed to excel in the solar industry and gain industry-recognized credentials. 

Signature Solar’s commitment to education is evident in the impressive numbers of their staff who have achieved industry credentials. As of the end of May 2024, the company had 51 employees with PV Associate (PVA) credentials and 9 with Board Certifications. These achievements are not only a testament to the team’s dedication to learning, but also to the company’s support and encouragement.

When an employee embarks on getting their PV Associate credential, they get a 90-day deadline to complete their coursework. When an employee moves on to a NABCEP Board Certification, their deadline is 120 days out. Tasha and her team have found that setting tight deadlines helps to keep the training a priority for the staff members. In a professional world full of competing priorities, Signature has found that keeping course completion goals towards the top reinforces the importance and value of education amongst the team.

Getting each credential comes with fanfare as well. Every several weeks, Signature hosts a ceremony to recognize new educational achievements from the team. PVA credential holders get a glass plaque for their desks, while NABCEP Board Professional get an individualized,  (and highly coveted we might add) Signature Solar jacket.

Going beyond classroom learning, Signature Solar recently launched the Solar Installation Hands-On training program which is for both internal and external learners. These experiential workshops give staff and customers alike the opportunity to gain practical skills and knowledge through interactive scenarios, like installing mechanical racking, solar PV equipment, and energy storage systems. By providing a safe and controlled environment for learners to apply their knowledge, participants leave feeling confident and better prepared to tackle their own solar plus storage projects. 

The company’s focus on continuous learning has also led to noteworthy success stories, such as one manager who started in technical support with a background in cybersecurity and little knowledge of solar. Just a few years later, he is running technical training programs for the team. This individual’s passion for learning and the company’s supportive environment have enabled him to become an invaluable asset to the organization and truly a solar and electrical knowledge powerhouse. 

Signature Solar’s approach to learning and development is not just benefiting their employees; it’s also contributing to their impressive employee retention rates. In May 2024, Signature Solar clocked their company-wide employee turnover rate at 2%. While that figure is still quite low when looking at employee turnover rates more broadly (10% employee turnover is considered a good general goal across industries), Tasha noted that is high for the company. Turnover for those enrolled in STEP was only 0.50% for the same period, demonstrating that investing in their people is paying off. 

As the solar market demand continues to grow, Signature Solar’s commitment to education and employee development sets them apart as a leader in the field. Their dedication to making solar accessible to everyone, both through their products and their knowledge-sharing initiatives (like their fantastic Youtube channel), is commendable and quite frankly needed to meet our climate goals of the future. Other companies looking to build a skilled and dedicated workforce can certainly learn from Signature Solar’s committed approach to learning and development.