New Standards for Ramping Up Solar Skills in India

Two men reach up to work on a metal structure on the roof of a building

Professionals working on a solar rooftop installation at Jesus and Mary College in New Delhi, India


Bhaskar Deol

In a far-reaching move, the Indian Ministry of New and Renewable Energy recently published draft National Occupational Standards and Qualifications Packs on Solar Skill Development Courses. Effective implementation of these standards has the potential to ramp up the skills required to achieve India’s renewable energy goals and help power its rapid economic growth while building a sustainable future.

The standards developed by the MNRE, and other nodal organizations - the Skill Council for Green Jobs and the National Skill Development Corporation, describe functions, performance levels, and skills required for various tasks in solar power jobs. A set of standards aligned to a particular job role, together with minimum educational qualifications, are compiled in a comprehensive package called the ‘Qualification Pack’. For example, the qualifications pack for the occupation ‘solar rooftop installers’ includes performance standards for key job functions such as site survey, installation of electrical components, and testing and commissioning the system.  

NRDC and partner Council on Energy Environment and Water had highlighted the need for expanding occupational standards for clean energy jobs in our analysis, Filling the Skill Gap in India’s Clean Energy Market, released earlier this year. While standards and qualification packs exist for many industries and job roles in India, most employment positions in the renewable energy field were not covered. The standards proposed by the MNRE can go a long way in bridging this gap for solar energy. These standards assure the employers of the skill levels of the candidates and provide input to training institutes for designing their course curriculum specifically to meet the needs of the industry.    

In addition to the standards, periodic inspection and certification of accredited training institutes is important for developing a robust and skilled solar workforce in India. As CEEW and NRDC analysis found, the quality of training programs is perceived to be inadequate and below industry expectations. While the standards are being finalized, it will be useful to define a process of compliance and verification that the specifications are indeed been adhered to and assure the availability of skilled human resources. The government may also want to consider a shorter time frame for reviewing and updating the standards given that clean energy technologies, especially solar photo voltaic systems, are evolving rapidly.

Availability of skilled personnel is critical to achieving India’s clean energy goals. The proposed standards demonstrate India’s firm commitment to creation of a robust and skilled workforce for renewable energy while providing clean energy access to all its citizens. 

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