Secure Futures Launches Initiative to Create and Fill Solar Power Jobs

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Workforce Development Veteran Duke West Will Help Colleges and Localities Expand their Offerings to Train and Place Solar Installers

STAUNTON, Va., March 25, 2022 /PRNewswire/ — Secure Futures Solar, based in Staunton, has hired Franklin “Duke” West as a Solar Workforce Associate overseeing the company’s initiative to assist workforce development programs in Virginia and West Virginia for electricians to add training in solar power. West will also work with training programs to place graduates in paid positions as solar power installers.

Franklin "Duke" West, Solar Workforce Associate overseeing Secure Futures’s initiative to bring solar power to workforce development programs in Virginia and West Virginia.

With nearly three decades experience in job training in both industry and higher education, at Secure Futures, West will support career training programs at high schools and community colleges. This initiative complements the company’s core offering of financing, installing and operating distributed solar power systems on site at campuses of K-12 schools and colleges and universities.

“The solar industry needs workers and Secure Futures is committed to doing our part to fill the pipeline of solar professionals that will allow the industry to keep growing quickly,” said Ryan McAllister, CEO of Secure Futures. “Duke’s expertise in boosting college workforce development and high school vocational training programs will be a resource for our educational customers to help their graduates qualify for clean energy careers.”

After earning a master’s degree in education from Virginia Tech, West went on to run workforce training programs for a Fortune 50 manufacturer and for institutions of higher education across the country. At Mississippi State University, West managed 17 distance and off-campus programs serving more than 4,000 students earning certificates along with B.S., M.S. and PhD degrees, all while reducing expenses for program delivery and doubling program revenue. In Oregon, West worked with state agencies and colleges to train teachers for head start programs and helped increase funding from $24 million to $48 million annually. In Washington, DC, West worked for a federal agency offering technical assistance to improve teacher training to schools nationwide.

“Adding an emphasis on solar power to an existing electrical program can give graduates more options and make them more employable,” said West. “And high schools and community colleges will be more interested in training their students to work in solar power if they know that graduates can easily find good jobs when they’re ready.”

Jobs in the solar power industry have increased 167% over the past decade, which is five times faster than the overall job growth rate in the U.S. economy, according to the U.S. Department of Energy. As of September 2021, there were more than 250,000 solar workers in the United States in fields spanning manufacturing, installation, project development, trade, distribution, and more.

Currently, job listing website lists more than 70 open positions for solar power installers, technicians, electricians and supervisors in Virginia and West Virginia. Salaries offered range from around $30,000 to more than $90,000 per year.

West’s first project is to coordinate a partnership with Mountain Empire Community College, Wise County Schools and Secure Futures to start an apprenticeship program to train solar installers through classroom work and internships. Qualifying graduates will be eligible to take jobs with a locally run solar installation company created through the program, Lonesome Pine Solar, LLC.

Southwest Virginia is nurturing locally trained solar installers and putting graduates into jobs,” said West. “Their work can provide a model to other communities that want to build a sustainable clean energy industry locally.”

About Secure Futures, LLC 

As a market and policy leader, Secure Futures builds, owns, manages and funds affordable Resilient Solar Solutions® for hospitals, schools and businesses. The company combines state-of–the-art solar technology with an innovative business model to make commercial scale solar readily affordable in the Mid-Atlantic and Southeast, helping customers to realize the economic, environmental, and community benefits of solar energy.  In 2017, Secure Futures became a Certified B Corporation®. Find the company online at


Erik Curren, Secure Futures 

[email protected]  




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