Job Corps Alumni Ricky Gass Finds Career Success in the Solar Industry
Ricky Gass is a solar installer. It’s been four years now. He makes a good living – $35 to $65 an hour, depending on the type of project. Ricky works for Solar Landscape in New Jersey.
Kevin Dunshee, chief commercial officer of Solar Landscape, says, “The folks that are on the roof are the ones who execute these projects and keep us going. They’re the ones who make sure the solar is installed safely.”
And Ricky is one of those folks. But it wasn’t always that way. Ricky liked learning and wanted a good job, but the path forward was cloudy after high school. He tried a little college, worked several odd jobs, but nothing clicked. He came to a point where he said he needed to change his life. He said he was running from his past…running from a lot of things.
Ricky says he has always liked working in construction, so he put all his energy and efforts into learning a trade at Job Corps.
“I’m so happy I did it. It changed my life,” he says. “I had some bad habits and bad things I had to overcome. And I think at that time Job Corps really helped me prepare for the real world. So, when it was time for me to work with Solar Landscape, I was very much prepared to do so.”
Edison Job Corps staff counseled Ricky to participate in advanced training offered by GAF Roofing and Solar Landscape, where he works today.
“I had a call from Mr. Tony Staynings, and he said he had an opportunity for me at GAF roofing,” explains Ricky. “It was a two-week course. They provided us with tools. They actually gave us a stipend. Gave us lunch every day. So, it was a wonderful opportunity where I got to learn the basics of roofing. Also, I got to learn solar installation, which actually drew my eye at that time.”
That’s right…two businesses from the community teaming up with Job Corps, working together to provide additional training and then employment.
“Our association with Job Corps is the single most important reason that our workforce development program has grown to where it is,” says Kevin.
Ricky says he’s happy about everything he’s doing right now and everything he’s been through. He says it’s been worth It, and that he’s loving the journey.
“Too many people want things in life,” he says. “But you have to give to get. You might not have to know exactly which road to take, but just be willing.”