I recently (December 2020) participated at the EPICA final conference which was held as a webinar and organised by eLearning Africa. This event was a presentation of the results of the highly innovative project called EPICA. The aim of which was to enhance and increase the visibility of learners’ skills, so as to strengthen their employability in Africa.

Since then I am thinking about the topic of employability and what kind of soft skills somebody who wants to enter the solar-industry or renewable energy industry needs? Furthermore, what does it really mean the word employability and how can you easily reflect on your soft skills and work on it?


EPICA – a short introduction


But let me shortly introduce you to EPICA (https://epica-initiative.com/) which I think is a great initiative. The EPICA Project was led by 8 partners, 4 from Europe and 4 from Africa (find more here: https://epica-initiative.com/consortium.php).

This consortium of 8 Partners and mainly universities reacted to the demand of employers who, as the speakers explained in the webinar, often come to them and tell them that the students don´t have the skills that employers need.

As the speakers said, they think it is important to listen to the employers and labour market as the young generation (especially in Africa) is facing high unemployment and not finding the jobs they want.

The participating Universities and Learning Institutions created an ePortfolio and a new way to show, measure and monitor the soft skills of their students.


Struggling to find out what your soft skills are? – you are not alone!


Often students – and I remember my time when I was a student – don´t even know what kind of skills they gain during their life at university, during their temporary jobs and during internships. They don´t reflect and they don´t know how to „sell“ these skills to possible employers.

This is why I was keen on learning more about this project and it results because I know how competitive the job markets are – in Europe, Africa and worldwide. As I mentioned before, I myself struggled to understand and present the skills I gained during all the internships and projects that I did during my time at the university and even after finding my first jobs. I only knew what kind of knowledge I gained but I didn´t know what kind of skills I developed that would make me interesting for possible employers.


What kind of soft skills are needed to succeed in the solar industry and in the current labour market in general?


So the first question is: What kind of soft skills are demanded and which according to the labour market (research and evaluation) are needed and how can you make the right conclusions to find out on how to succeed with these soft skills in the solar-industry or renewable industry?

Dr. Michael Obiyoh from Marsella University in Kenya, together with the other partners form the EPICA Project researched employability skills that are demanded by the current labour market and employers in Africa. They determined that the following skills are the most in demand:

1. Communication and Interpersonal Skills
2. Problem-Solving Skills
3. Collaborating or Teamwork
4. Creative Thinking and Critical Thinking
5. Digital Skills or Technology Skills
6. Leadership
7. Self-Motivation
8. Self-Assessment
9. Other Generic Skills like Patience, Punctuality etc.

I think they are also very similar to the European and world labour market as well. Maybe you are questioning yourself now – ok, now I know these skills but do I really need them in the solar-industry or renewable industry?
I can guarantee you, yes you do. I will give you an example.


The soft skill example of a solar installer at work


Let´s imagen you are a student or a person who seeks a job in the solar-industry and you are interested in installing solar systems.
You must have very good communication and interpersonal skills. If you go to a private household who wants to buy and have a solar system installed on their roof – you need to explain to the consumer the different kind of systems they can choose from. You have to be attentive and maybe you have to explain things more than one time because the customer wants to know everything as detailed as possible because he or she is making a lifetime investment. So interpersonal skills are key when it comes to selling and installing solar systems when you are looking on the soft skills side.


Overall digital skills and technology skills are also very important skills when it comes to the solar-industry. In our latest interview with Dieter Ortmann – CEO from maxx-solar&energy Germany – he also stresses that being able to work with technology and be open and self-motivated to learn more is key in the industry (see interview here: https://maxx-solar-energy.co.za/7458/interview-with-diter-ortmann-ceo-of-maxx-solarenergy-in-germany/)


How to become active yourself and find out about the soft skills you have?


We can recommend you to take a pen and paper, mobile phone, laptop – whatever you have at hand right now and start making a list of soft skills you think you have gained over the years. For example: you were class representative. That means you should have good leadership and management skills. Or you were working at a restaurant as a waiter – so you must have good listening and multi-tasking skills – furthermore, you are probably very resilient when it comes to stressful situations. These are wonderful soft skills that many employers are seeking in young people. Write everything down. If you are not sure, grab a friend and do it together. Sometimes other people tend to know more about the soft skills you have than yourself.

The next step I would like to recommend is that you now try to think of how these skills (you just have written down) could be useful in the solar-industry. What kind of Job would be your go to job with the skills you have?


If you are not sure what the job market is offering you in the solar-industry – we will keep you covered. In 2 weeks [1st of March 2021] will upload a blog post about jobs you can find in the solar industry and maybe fit your interest and skills.


Your take away and learning from this blog post should be:


So what are our recommendations if you are searching for a job in the solar industry?

1) You need to market yourself and find out the soft skill you have to become interesting to the current labour market and possible employers- they are searching for it!

2) Analyse what kind of soft skills YOU have that are making YOU different from others.
– if you need help: ask a friend, family member, teacher etc.

3) Remember: the solar-industry is also seeking for soft skills in a future employee and if you want to become an entrepreneur (means somebody who wants to start his or her own business in the solar-industry) – you even more in need of these soft skills that are mentioned above.


How we can support you:


The goal of our maxx-online-academy is to train you not only on the hard and technical skills you need for the solar-industry. Of course, we want you to become a great solar installer, designer, salesperson and help you to succeed in that industry. But we are also offering training on how to develop soft skills that you need to become successful in the solar industry.

So stay tuned and if you want to find out more: please write to blog@maxx-energy.co.za