Gov. Gina M. Raimondo, D-R.I., recently met with local business leaders and educators who are working to build a career pathways program to prepare middle and high school students for jobs in Rhode Island’s growing offshore wind industry.
Beginning this fall at Rocky Hill School (in East Greenwich) and North Kingstown High School, the WindWinRI program will pilot activities designed to increase exposure to careers in wind energy and support students in earning industry-endorsed credentials, the Raimondo administration says.
“We need to prepare today’s students for tomorrow’s jobs. We’re building a green economy in Rhode Island, and I’m committed to ensuring that the good offshore wind jobs are filled by Rhode Islanders,” states Raimondo. “This program is an innovative platform that will get young people thinking about all of the possibilities the wind industry has to offer, and it will help ensure that companies have a pipeline of talent for years to come in Rhode Island.”
The partnership is focused on the development of a career pathways training program that can supply skilled workers to satisfy future demand. The lead agency, the North Kingstown Chamber of Commerce, along with its strategic partners, is working with multiple education entities across the state to use and augment existing training programs to fit the needs of the budding offshore wind industry.
“An increasing demand for wind power is fueling an economic engine supporting the growth of offshore wind energy jobs; for every commercial-scale offshore wind project, 1,000 supply-chain jobs are created,” says Kristin Urbach, executive director of the North Kingstown Chamber of Commerce. “If we are to meet the demands of the sector, our workforce must be empowered with the skillset required by this fast-emerging industry, and career interest must be cultivated among our middle and high school students to fill any gap left by an aging workforce.”
“Real Jobs Rhode Island is investing in workforce solutions that meet the unique needs of Rhode Island’s fastest-growing sectors,” notes Alyssa Alvarado, Real Jobs Rhode Island’s program director at the RI Department of Labor and Training. “Whether it is training Rhode Islanders for jobs that are immediately available or preparing the future generation of workers, we are committed to meeting the talent needs of our state’s employers.”
Rhode Island is home to the nation’s only operating offshore wind farm, Deepwater Wind’s Block Island project. Earlier this year, the Raimondo administration announced Rhode Island’s selection of Deepwater Wind to construct a new 400 MW offshore wind farm. The new Revolution Wind project – more than 10 times the size of the Block Island wind farm – was selected through a competitive offshore wind procurement process in collaboration with Massachusetts. Revolution Wind is planned for Deepwater Wind’s federal lease site southwest of Martha’s Vineyard, Mass.
Currently, according to the administration, there are 15,866 clean energy jobs in Rhode Island – representing a 72% increase since 2014.