Avantus/UNITE-LA Team Up to Create Pathways for an Inclusive Green Energy Future

Apr 19, 2023

This blog post was originally published under the Avantus Cleantech Career Academy name. The program rebranded to the LA Regional Cleantech Career Academy in 2023.

Los Angeles is poised to establish itself as the nation's capital for green energy and clean technology. The city is home to world-class innovative companies and has the visionary leadership needed to build an unmatched clean energy economy. And Los Angeles' position is only going to be supercharged by the investments made available through bills like the Inflation Reduction Act.

There's just one issue. If you talk with employers these days, they will tell you one of their biggest challenges is finding qualified workers. The workforce challenge is even more acute in the dynamic and fast-growing clean energy sector.

That's the impetus for a unique partnership that has been developed by Avantus, an L.A.-based leader in the clean energy transition, and UNITE-LA. Together, we have launched the Avantus Cleantech Career Academy, which is designed to identify, recruit and train 16-to-24-year-olds in Los Angeles for careers and jobs in the clean energy sector. Through education, job readiness and paid work-based learning, the Avantus Cleantech Career Academy creates opportunities for students to succeed in California's green energy future.

Partners in the academy already include a broad cross section of secondary and higher education institutions, community organizations, public agencies and employers. If your firm or organization would like to participate, you can learn more here.

"While the Academy launched in March, we continue our efforts to grow it by focusing on talking with employers in the clean energy sector and identifying 16-to-24-year-olds from schools and community organizations that might benefit from access to careers in the growing clean energy sector," said Bridget Netter, Senior Vice President of Programs and Talent Development for UNITE-LA.

The academy is aimed at giving students a pathway to turn their passion for climate issues into a career as part of climate solutions. It is what inspired Dr. Tom Buttgenbach, founder and CEO of Avantus, to help found the academy.

"There is such a strong activism and passion for climate issues in this next generation. The strength of that conviction is matched only by the scale of the challenge. We are going to need all hands-on deck in the fight against climate change, and I'm thrilled to see our partners in the cleantech sector here in Southern California stepping up alongside Avantus to help train young people to join in the fight," said Dr. Buttgenbach. "Not only can we help provide the next generation with means to combat the climate crisis, the Avantus Cleantech Career Academy also helps create viable pathways to good green jobs right here in L.A."

The need and opportunities available for cleantech workers is clear:

  • California already has 1 in 6 clean energy jobs in the U.S.
  • California will create 4 million new jobs fighting climate change over the next 20 years.
  • Los Angeles leads the nation with the most solar production of any U.S. city and has set a target to be 100% powered by clean energy by 2035.
  • Hourly pay for clean energy jobs is nearly 30% above the statewide median wage.

The Avantus Academy runs for 24 weeks. For half of that time, the students will work in a business or organization while being paid $16.04 per hour through our partnership with LA County Department of Economic Opportunity. Upon completion, students will receive a $1,000 scholarship toward pursuit of a college degree or a relevant workforce certificate.

The academy curriculum has been developed with direct input from employers, to ensure students come out of it better equipped to take on real world roles. A recent conversation with a Southern California Edison Talent Acquisition team underscored the dynamic growth underway in the Clean Energy Sector. While employers in other sectors are downsizing, firms like Edison are hiring — 500 people already this year.

"Employers like Edison have specific and very immediate needs in the clean energy sector. Programs like this where we can have input into what students learn will help them be well prepared for the jobs of the future," said Porsha Caddell, Sr. Manager, Customer Programs & Services Division Management, SCE. "At Edison, we want to look like the communities we serve. Being involved in programs like the Avantus Cleantech Career Academy can help us meet that goal of a true equitable future for many."

The first 24-week cohort of 75 students launched March 27. More than 250 students applied for the first year. The goal is to engage 300 students in the next three years and place two-thirds of them in jobs and internships in the clean energy sector.

Sound like something you'd like to be part of?

Let us know by contacting Bridget Netter, Sr. VP of Programs and Talent Development, UNITE-LA, at or

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