Is the Home Performance Industry Right for You?
September 02, 2011
A version of this article appears in the September/October 2011 issue of Home Energy Magazine.
As the home performance industry grows, more job seekers are exploring career opportunities related to home energy auditing and retrofit work. In the interest of promoting smart workforce development for the industry, the Home Performance Resource Center has developed a set of free online career resources designed to help current job seekers learn more about home performance jobs and to help them assess their own skills and aptitude for work in the field.
For this industry to grow, it is vital that people entering the labor force actually be the best candidates for the available jobs. By providing tools and resources to help job seekers get a clearer picture of what it means to be an energy auditor, installer, or salesperson, the Resource Center is targeting the workers who are most likely to be a good fit for the industry and to succeed over the long term.
The Career Resources section of the Resource Center web site was developed with assistance from the Home Energy Retrofit Occupations (HERO) program, a federally funded workforce development initiative that enabled the Resource Center to partner with a group of educational and nonprofit organizations, including California-based Strategic Energy Innovations and the San Mateo Workforce Investment Board, which hosted the HERO grant. While the project was implemented locally in the San Francisco Bay Area, the online resources it produced are designed to provide job seekers nationally with practical and accessible career development tools. The Resource Center will be partnering with other organizations to expand the geographic reach of those tools.
The new site addresses the needs of prospective home performance workers, using a combination of video, text, and interactive components as follows:
To provide a peer-to-peer visual explanation of what specific jobs are like, the project produced six home performance career video profiles. Each video features a brief interview with a working home performance contractor talking about his or her professional background and day-to-day experiences, and the ups and downs of working in the industry. The videos also include on-the-job footage that gives a real sense of the work involved in each of three job categories: retrofit technicians, crew leads, and analyst/sales positions.
To complement the video profiles, the site provides an overview of job categories in the home performance industry, including job descriptions, characteristics of successful employees, range of salaries, and educational and performance requirements. This area also provides links to relevant trade associations, credentialing bodies, training providers, and other resources that will help job seekers learn about and prepare for work in the home performance industry.
To access the Career Resources section of the Home Performance Resource Center web site, go to www.hprcenter.org/career-resources. The Career Resources section will soon be integrated with the Efficiency First Job Board, an employment and job search portal at www.efficiencyfirstjobs.org.
The capstone of the Resource Center site is an interactive self-assessment tool designed to help job seekers evaluate their own aptitude and personal preferences, and to explore whether or not a job in the home performance industry is likely to be a good fit. This 20-minute online survey walks job seekers through a series of questions related to five key attributes established by the industry: social versus technical problem-solving skills, basic construction knowledge, physical aptitude, work environment preferences, and sales aptitude. After completing the survey, users receive immediate feedback rating their skills and abilities and indicating how the survey results relate to job requirements for the home performance industry. The survey results may be printed or sent to the user via e-mail for future reference.
According to Kif Scheuer, program director at Strategic Energy Innovations, who developed the Career Resources section of the Resource Center, the feedback from the Resource Center's self-assessment tool can be used in a number of ways. "Job seekers can use the results to enhance their resume or convey their skills and preferences to future employers," Scheuer notes, while "employers can use the self-assessment as an initial prescreening tool, [and] trainers can also use the self-assessment as an aid for incoming students to help them better select courses."
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