The New Jersey Economic Development Authority (NJEDA) has started accepting applications for a competitive grant program that will help New Jerseyans, particularly those in overburdened communities, develop skills for offshore wind careers. The $3.725 million Offshore Wind Workforce and Skills Development Grant Challenge will offer grants to selected entities that will aid in launching or expanding workforce training and skills programs focused on strengthening and diversifying New Jersey’s offshore wind workforce.
Additionally, Gov. Phil Murphy’s Office of Climate Action and the Green Economy (OCAGE), in collaboration with the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (NJDEP), has released a Notice of Funds Availability (NOFA) to support innovative pilot programs focused on building a diverse, inclusive green workforce. Through the Building our Resilient, Inclusive, and Diverse Green Economy (NJ BRIDGE) initiative, a total of $5 million is available to fund scalable projects to support residents entering the green workforce or climbing the green career ladder, with a focus on engagement in overburdened communities.
“Transitioning the state to a 100 percent clean energy economy and meeting our bold offshore wind development goals will require a highly skilled, inclusive workforce,” adds OCAGE Executive Director Jane Cohen. “Since the outset of the Murphy administration, we have pursued our clean energy future not just for our environment and growing economy, but for the hard-working New Jerseyans who will fill thousands of new jobs as we strive for a more sustainable tomorrow.”
Together, the OCAGE NOFA and the Grant Challenge amount to more than $8 million in funding toward the cultivation of a green economy founded upon good-paying jobs and long-term career opportunities.
In February 2021, Gov. Murphy announced the creation of a Council on the Green Economy, convening cross-sector leaders in New Jersey’s growing green economy to harness the opportunity created by New Jersey’s climate and clean energy policy accomplishments. The council was tasked with informing the effort to define pathways for green job creation, development of workforce capacity, and support for an innovation ecosystem critical to a nation-leading green economy. In a one-year plan accompanying the Green Jobs for a Sustainable Future report, state agencies committed to planning and implementing programs, pilot projects, and funding opportunities that will increase access to green jobs and address gaps in the development of the green workforce statewide.
“The Murphy Administration’s commitment to improving our environment as we promote economic growth is creating good-paying jobs, including through our pursuit of a just clean energy transition and clean water for all,” says Commissioner of Environmental Protection Shawn M. LaTourette, also the co-chair of the Council on the Green Economy. “The BRIDGE initiative will help expand New Jersey’s growing green workforce by piloting programs with the capacity to increase access to green jobs for all people through outreach, training, and direct services that support our residents as they gear up for the jobs of the future.”
The Grant Challenge is part of NJEDA’s efforts to establish the NJ Wind Institute for Innovation and Training as an independent entity created through legislation. The Wind Institute will coordinate and deploy resources to advance offshore wind workforce development, research and innovation in the state.
“The state’s emerging offshore wind industry, and the green energy sector overall, is creating a wealth of attractive, family-sustaining career opportunities. We have a responsibility to make sure New Jerseyans from all backgrounds have access to the training needed to safely and skillfully perform those jobs,” states NJEDA CEO Tim Sullivan. “Governor Murphy is equally committed to the success of New Jersey workers aspiring to work in this growing industry and the offshore wind companies that are choosing to invest here.”
“As New Jersey’s green economy continues to grow it is crucial that we provide opportunities for a diverse workforce to fill all of the clean energy jobs we are creating as we work toward a 100 percent clean energy future,” adds Joseph L. Fiordaliso, New Jersey Board of Public Utilities President and Co-Chair of the Council on the Green Economy. “NJBPU has long been a champion of a diverse workforce in the utility and clean energy sectors. During the Murphy administration, we have focused on ensuring the green programs aimed at increasing the clean energy footprint in environmental justice communities offer good paying job opportunities to the residents of those communities.”