Solar energy, an employment opportunity for young people

I. LILLO MALAGA.

The logical consequence of the sudden boom in this market is a lack of professionals to carry out the installation, so this has now become an employment opportunity for young people in the province.

"This is a profession in itself; you have to know about electricity, but also know about metal structures and how to work high up. We like to train our own staff," said José Francisco Alcaide, a partner in and technical director of 4Tenergy, which has had to double its workforce and now employs ten people. Demand for workers has also shot up in the sector, because major companies in the energy sector (including oil companies) have been keen to get involved in the business.

Ernesto Macías, the managing director of Solarwatt España, agrees that the lack of qualified workers is "one of the bottlenecks" affecting the final stage of installation. "This is engineering, it's not a case of buying the panels and putting them up, it is a smart system," he explained. This is why the sector needs professionals who are not just electricians but have a higher technical qualification, and there is a shortage of such people at present.

"It's a job that is here to stay. The profession of solar panel installer has an enormous future, because in Spain we are only at five per cent of potential. There is a huge demand for these professionals already," said Macías.

Another question that could do a lot to generate employment, especially in Malaga where there is already a major photovoltaic industry (Isofotón) is the aim of the government and major investors to start manufacturing solar panels in Spain again. One of the present problems, which is holding things up considerably, is the dependence on China for parts.