Engineering, procurement, and construction firm Burns & McDonnell said it has received federal approval for a new open-shop apprenticeship program to support utility-scale solar projects.
While addressing current labor shortages, the program could help Burns & McDonnell distinguish itself from other EPCs.
The program aims to help developers cash in on the full array of incentives in the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA). Provisions of the IRA offer bonus credits to projects that comply with the federal prevailing wage provisions of the Davis-Bacon Act in utilizing registered apprentices on project teams.
“With the energy transition taking place in the U.S., solar projects and programs have a demand for workers unlike anything the country has experienced before,” said Jeff Allen, Burns & McDonnell vice president of construction. “Having one of the first apprenticeship programs for solar will help us meet that demand.”
Currently, approximately 15% of the labor needed on solar projects is executed under apprenticeships, according to Burns & McDonnell.
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Apprenticeship programs allow workers to get paid while they train for highly-skilled jobs that are in demand across numerous construction sectors. The Burns & McDonnell program will fast-track skilled labor into the workforce with an emphasis on safe work practices.
With many solar projects being built in remote areas, recruiting for apprenticeships will be focused on geographic areas in close proximity to where the work is being done. If the project is complete before apprentices qualify to become journeyworkers, they will have opportunities to move to another construction project to complete the process.