Gov. Ralph Northam has formed Virginia’s first offshore and onshore wind workforce training collaborative, the Mid-Atlantic Wind Training Alliance. The program will offer industry required certifications that are critical to the operations and long-term maintenance of wind projects.
The New College Institute, which will serve as the host institution, is joining forces with Centura College and the Mid-Atlantic Maritime Academy to create the alliance. This partnership will bring courses certified by the Global Wind Organization and National Center for Construction, Education and Research wind technician training to onshore and offshore wind projects to Virginia and the Mid-Atlantic region.
“Building a strong wind energy workforce will give Virginia a significant competitive advantage in attracting onshore and offshore wind projects,” says Northam. “There is currently massive potential for offshore wind up and down the East Coast, and we look forward to working with our partners across Virginia and in neighboring states to grow this industry and reap the tremendous economic benefits for our communities, especially those that have been historically disadvantaged.”
The alliance represents an important first step in what will be a much larger workforce development effort to support the renewable energy industries in Virginia. Course offerings will span a wide variety of wind energy-related disciplines and provide students with a customizable portfolio of training options. Programs will range from specific certifications to a year-long wind turbine technician program that bundles several industry-recognized certifications and prepares students to serve as certified installation technicians, inspectors and maintenance technicians. The alliance plans to start offering programs in early 2021.
The wind industry in the U.S. continues to experience exponential growth, supporting 120,000 American jobs in 2019, according to the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA). The AWEA also estimates that the wind industry has invested more than $208 billion in wind projects across the country with the capacity to produce at least 109 GW of power to date. Dominion Energy and Avangrid Renewables have nearly 400 offshore wind turbines under development off the coast of Virginia and North Carolina.
Centura College has seven education centers across eastern Virginia, including Tidewater Tech, which is home to the largest welding training center in the state, with 100 welding booths. Centura is also parent to Aviation Institute of Maintenance, which has 13 aviation technician training centers nationwide and focuses on the repair and maintenance of aircraft including engineering fiberglass and composites.
For more information on the Mid-Atlantic Wind Training Alliance, click here.