“We have a responsibility toward the veteran cause. In the U.S. there is a large veteran population returning from the wars; we need to solve the unemployment issue and also find ways to develop the green economy.” – Benny Faraone, field supervisor at Namaste Solar
Denver-based Namaste Solar is a residential and commercial solar services company that offers a range of engineering, procurement and construction services. When Namaste needed to hire workers for several new contracts, it examined the current workforce for potential staff. The company quickly found that there was a large unemployed veteran population seeking civilian work or retraining opportunities – and made a decision to collaborate with Veterans Green Jobs.
Namaste committed to partner with veterans who have transferable skills and some technical training, and are seeking employment in the solar field. It discovered that hiring veterans offers many advantages.
“Veterans are a good fit for the solar industry,” says Benny Faraone, a Namaste field supervisor, citing technical skills, discipline, level of commitment and strong work ethic. Through Veterans Green Jobs, Namaste hired Dan Conerd, a U.S. Army veteran, on a contract installing solar panels at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory.
Conerd impressed Faraone with his technical, construction and management background – combined with strong personal qualities including discipline, leadership, and attention to detail and safety. “We’re not hiring someone who hasn’t been through a regimen,” says Faraone. “It’s not an easy job, and we have been able to lean heavily on Dan and put him in positions of responsibility. He has a strong, diverse skill set that he may not even realize.”
For Namaste, technical experience is essential for a variety of design, sales and field roles. Faraone emphasizes the importance of transferable skills in all of these roles. “In the military, you pick a path that’s technical, and you specialize in it – whether it’s in electrical, construction or communications fields. Service members are trained in those areas, and can now put them to direct use in a different industry.”
Management skills are equally important when it comes to hiring. “Some projects have crews up to 20 people. So when you’re thinking about order and organization and team leadership, it’s critical to develop those skill sets in your staff, or hire someone who already has them.” Conerd fit the bill. “We identified Dan’s management abilities in the interview process,” Faraone says.
Conerd says the match works well for him, too: “I believe that solar technology – and renewable energy in general – helps us get away from consumption of gas and oil. I may not be fighting wars anymore, but I’m still helping the country. It’s important to me and other veterans.”
In addition to solar’s appeal as a growing job sector, the job at Namaste attracted Dan because he loves being outside and working with his hands. And, he adds, “I like working with like-minded people who get excited about the advancements of solar technology and want to see it succeed.”