Training Installers to Succeed

Martin King
Technical Service Engineer, UK - Tier 1 + FSE / Martin King

What kind of training breeds success?

In the beginning of 2021, The Resolution Foundation, an independent British think-tank focused on improving the living standards of low-to-middle income earners, stated in a recent report (1), ‘… 16-24-year-olds [in the UK] have accounted for a disproportionately large share of the fall in employment that’s occurred over the past year.’ This is in line with Statistica’s findings that just over half of the UK’s 16-26 year olds are employed (2). With the current economic environment still set against them, many agree that opportunities for younger workers lie in their readiness for the workplace. This got me wondering about how we are preparing the next generation of installers for success within the solar PV industry.

I was able to reflect on this during my recent visit to a county council site.  Steve Jackson, Managing Director of Space Renewable Energy, was supervising a new team of installers. I was asked along to support the team during the installation of the SolarEdge Firefighter Gateway and to oversee system commissioning. While there, I had the opportunity to meet Steve’s inspiring team of young trainees and see the difference that training is making to their lives.

I firmly believe that once a newcomer to solar PV has installed a system correctly, the commissioning process is where the learning really falls into place. We tested the whole system and demonstrated exactly what happens when the Fire Fighter Gateway is activated. One push of the button and our proprietary safety feature, SafeDC™, drops every single module down to a touch-safe level – seeing that is powerful stuff.

The Many Facets of Training

Passionate about bringing new blood into the industry, and throughout his career, a witness to both the good and bad in installing PV systems, Steve understands the importance of training. While his trainees are treated to a full curriculum that includes health and safety, technical design and system installation, they also learn the critically important skill of how to work with the customer. The team appreciates that saying a simple “Hello! “on arrival to the site, keeping the whole site clean and tidy, and letting the customer know how the install is progressing, can be the difference between a good or bad experience – and can determine whether they’re going to be asked back to quote for another job. As Steve explained, “It’s so important for these youngsters to understand how to present themselves to our customers.”

Edge Academy Courses Provide Opportunity

As part of their introduction and training, the team are also completing the SolarEdge EDGE Academy Scholar Course - a 90-minute programme designed to take the trainees from zero knowledge to ready-for-their-first¬-SolarEdge-installation. Next, trainees can improve their skills in the Expert Installer Programme, which is modular and customisable.

Prior to this project, one of the trainees, 19-year-old Jack, also joined Designer, SolarEdge's solar design tool, step-by-step webinar series. He progressed from Beginner to Expert over four sessions, and under Steve’s supervision, Jack designed the system that is now fully operational and contributing to the carbon reduction programme in the council for which we had been working. It’s not hard to imagine the sense of achievement Jack must have felt as the system he designed started generating energy for the first time!

The SolarEdge training programme is accredited by The CPD Standards Office and SolarEdge training options are accessible via EDGE Academy (our online learning platform), the SolarEdge ‘Learning Center’ website, webinars and YouTube. And, when we emerge from the pandemic with a newly refurbished training room at our Cambridge office, we’re looking forward to making our training experience truly hybrid with new, hands-on sessions.

PV Industry Offers New Possibility

Examples of initiatives in the UK solar industry are quite encouraging. One of the most exciting is Solar Skills: London - a grant scheme for employee professional development supported by Solar Energy UK and the Mayor of London. And, following the disruption as a result of the lockdowns, there has been record breaking growth in in the deployment of solar PV in the UK (3),.

Gen-Z have a huge part to play in switching our carbon-based economy of the past to one of clean power. And where better to do that than in the solar PV sector! As Steve concluded: “We’ve seen ups and downs in the UK PV industry, but it’s more stable today. Now that the green message is taking a foothold, I can see a healthy future in this business, and more importantly, so can my young team. There’s a good career ahead for the next generation - just as long as we take care to train them well.”


  1. Resolution Foundation:
  3. Solar Energy UK: