Diversifying the solar industry



Shannon Burch worked in the healthcare industry for three years before he enrolled in the  Philadelphia OIC PECO Smart Energy program.
Shannon managed the healthcare needs of over 60 in-home patients for a post-acute care company. Armed with his Bachelors in Recreation and  Leisure Management from Cheyney University, the nation’s first  historically Black university, he was proud of his work. Althoug  this work was rewarding, Shannon had an intense curiosity about  working with alternative forms of energy and desired to begin a  career in the energy sector. 
Philadelphia OIC partners with PECO to offer customized job training and job placement services for individuals, like Shannon, who are interested in energy sector careers. Solar States is the educational training partner for this program.  The tuition-free program is       designed to train participants for opportunities in the rapidly growing industry of smart energy. The program also seeks to increase diversity in the industry.
Over the course of eight weeks, Shannon learned the hard skill essential to energy trade jobs, such as troubleshooting electrica  problems and the intricacies of how to install solar panels. He also learned power skills which are essential to success, such as industry          etiquette and the business of the energy sector.
 Shannon was a diligent and committed student. He passed the CAST (Construction and Skilled Trades) test with flying colors. The CASTcertification opens the doors to a world of employment opportunities in the fields of construction and skilled trades.
 As a result of  Shannon’s hard work and OIC’s commitment to job placement, he was able to secure an apprenticeship with the Philadelphia Energy Authority. Just a few short months after graduating from OIC, Shannon was hired as a gas distribution mechanic     at PECO. Shannon is helping consumers with natural gas lines and mains. His next step is to become a senior distribution mechanic.                                                                                            

Shannon has faced and succesfully  overcome some adversity navigating the complexities of working in a  challenging field. He credits his training at OIC with preparing him for any obstacles. “The difference between Philadelphia OIC and  college is the individual attention you get,” Shannon said.   “Philadelphia OIC helped me in tremendous ways.”
Shannon envisions himself as the vice president of a company in the   energy sector in the future.  “There’s no limit to how you should think or dream,” said Shannon. 

 If you are interested in learning more about enrolling in the Philadelphia OIC PECO Smart Energy Program, email Delena Smith, Skilled Trades Instructor at: dsmith@philaoic.org.
 If you are interested in partnership opportunities for this program, please contact Latoya Edmond, Vice President of Workforce Development  & Economic Innovation at: ledmond@philaoic.org.

Joseph Poteracki , an intern with Philadelphia OIC , is the author of this alumni success story. Joseph is currently pursuing a Master of Arts  in Public Policy at Temple University