The Baker-Polito administration is giving $3.8 million in grant funding through the Offshore Wind Works Program to nine Massachusetts organizations.
The program, which is administered through the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center (MassCEC), seeks to develop and implement innovative workforce training programs to increase access to clean energy careers, education and training.
Funds of the program were made available primarily through a new Offshore Wind Energy Career Training Trust Fund, with additional support from Mayflower Wind and Vineyard Wind. The Offshore Wind Works Program serves as another example of the Baker-Polito administration’s ongoing efforts to support the clean energy industry. In April 2022, Gov. Charlie Baker filed An Act Investing in Future Opportunities for Resiliency, Workforce and Revitalized Downtowns (FORWARD), which includes a $750 million investment in the commonwealth’s clean energy industry that also targets workforce training and development.
“With several major offshore wind projects in various stages of approval and construction, it is crucial we have a qualified, well-trained, and diverse homegrown workforce that is ready to enter the industry,” says Baker. “The Offshore Wind Works Program, coupled with other efforts like the FORWARD Act, will support the commonwealth in developing a workforce capable of contributing to the industry.”
The Offshore Wind Works awards will help increase the commonwealth’s capacity to develop a workforce capable of contributing to the construction, assembly, deployment, installation, and operations and maintenance of offshore wind farms in southern New England, as well as to support the manufacturing of offshore wind components and its related supply chain. With construction on Vineyard Wind 1 project under way, and the Mayflower Wind project queued up right after, it is important to ensure that there is a qualified, well-trained, safe and diverse workforce to build, operate and maintain these and other offshore projects for Massachusetts and the region.
“In order to better support the offshore wind industry, we must remain diligent in fostering workforce development programs that will enable Massachusetts to remain a national clean energy industry leader,” comments Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito. “The Offshore Wind Works Awards will provide resources that ensure our workforce will be diverse and equitable so residents in towns and cities across the Commonwealth can participate and capitalize on the benefits of this new industry’s growth.”
The $3.8 million in awards leverages an estimated $2 million in additional funds from awardees through cost-sharing and in-kind contributions. Furthermore, MassCEC has managed the Offshore Wind Works Awards since 2019. Including this latest round, a total amount awarded is approximately $8 million through the program, with this round of awards advancing initiatives in the following focus areas: skilled trades; higher education; industry partnerships; infrastructure; and diversity, equity, inclusion and justice.
“The Offshore Wind Works Program awards will further solidify Massachusetts leadership in offshore wind workforce training and education and will directly advance programs and initiatives to expand the readiness, capabilities, and capacities of the local skilled trades,” states Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Beth Card. “Importantly, this funding will build pathways into offshore wind careers through new curricula, apprenticeships and technical trainings, and will support measures that increase access for underrepresented populations.”
Benjamin Franklin Institute of Technology will team with VinciVR, a developer and provider of virtual reality training systems, to expand training and recruiting capabilities for the Massachusetts offshore wind industry by leveraging VinciVR’s virtual reality (VR) technologies and BFIT’s experience educating students from Gateway Communities and Environmental Justice Populations. This project includes development of VR simulations for offshore wind construction and installation jobs as well as refined simulations for direct drive turbines expected to be used in Massachusetts offshore wind (i.e. higher levels of detail). The project goal is to introduce 500+ MA high school and college students to the offshore wind industry over a 2-year period.
“MassCEC is proud to make these awards to these nine organizations to execute projects that advance our goals in offshore wind workforce training, education and equitable development,” adds MassCEC CEO Jennifer Daloisio. “We’re fortunate to have the support of Vineyard Wind and Mayflower Wind. These awards given in partnership with our industry partners ensure that our offshore wind workforce is well-equipped with the knowledge, safety and certifications needed to work in this specialized field.”
Bristol Community College will use funds for the construction of the National Offshore Wind Institute (NOWI) Specialized Industry Training Center. The NOWI facility will offer industry training programs, innovation and entrepreneurship programs, educational and virtual reality simulation programs, designed to train the local and regional workforce for occupations in the offshore wind industry.
“Mayflower Wind offers its congratulations to the grantees who will play an important role in supporting Massachusetts offshore wind industry,” mentions Michael Brown, CEO of Mayflower Wind. “Mayflower Wind is committed to investing in our local communities and becoming an engine for economic and workforce development. Our support of today’s grantees is a demonstration of our commitment to helping to develop an offshore wind workforce. This investment not only will give people the tools they need to participate in this exciting industry but will also enable them to be part of helping Massachusetts and the country meet our clean energy goals.”
Browning The Green Space (BGS) will build on their Charting Pathways to Offshore Wind program by providing a more intensive and deeper level post-college training through Xodus Academy (X-Academy). X-Academy will provide paid training opportunities for priority groups, in partnership with offshore wind developers. BGS will leverage a network of partners and members to share the opportunity and recruit students from priority groups into X-Academy. Funds will be used to provide wraparound services to Cohort 1 of X-Academy to overcome multiple barriers to entry into the offshore wind workforce, informed by an Offshore Wind DEI Working Group.
“Having a well-trained workforce is the essential element that will allow the offshore wind industry to take root in Massachusetts,” says Jennifer Cullen, senior manager of labor relations and workforce development at Vineyard Wind. “We’re proud to partner with MassCEC and urge local residents to utilize these programs, so that they can benefit from the good paying jobs this industry is going to create now, and in the years to come.”
Ironworkers, Local 7 will enhance its ability to support members and recruit new workers into the trade, helping the Commonwealth fill gaps in the emerging offshore wind workforce. The project will provide GWO certification and recertification for 66 apprentices and/or journeypersons, including salary compensation for time taken off work during trainings. Ironworkers Local 7 also plans to purchase equipment to establish a Hytorc tool certification program at their Boston training facility.
Massachusetts Maritime Academy will develop and offer a 40-hour Basic Seamanship course for the Pile Drivers and Divers union and will expand its existing GWO-certified1 course offerings to include Basic Technical Training, Advanced Rescue Training, and Enhanced First Aid.
Southeastern Massachusetts Building Trades Council and Building Pathways South will provide Global Wind Organization (GWO) Safety Training and Offshore Wind 101 education through Massachusetts Maritime Academy for 100 union members spanning across various skilled trades. In addition, this project will provide 50 union members with DEIJ training.
University of Massachusetts Amherst Clean Energy Extension will expand their OSW Professional Certificate program through increased outreach to priority groups, increased scholarship funds and curricular enhancements; development of an undergraduate OSW overview course for enrolled UMass Amherst undergraduates; and development of an industry sponsorship program to support the long -term stability and growth of the certificate program and to further enhance CEE’s value to industry needs.
University of Massachusetts Dartmouth will extend career relevant paid internship and experiential learning opportunities to students in offshore wind relevant academic programs at UMass Dartmouth and Bristol Community College. The project will provide paid internships and financial support for capstone projects related to the offshore wind industry, as defined by an advisory board comprised of industry, higher ed and regional workforce development practitioners.
University of Massachusetts Lowell will provide OSHA 30‐hour construction safety and general industry training to university students seeking employment in the offshore wind energy industry, offshore wind supply chain companies, including managers and supervisors, and to participants in workforce development career centers.