Baker-Polito Administration Awards $1.6 Million to Expand Access to Offshore Wind Workforce Training Opportunities

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Robert Fitzpatrick
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Jul 21, 2021 –

BOSTON – In an effort to increase the participation of underrepresented populations in the offshore wind industry, the Baker-Polito Administration today announced $1.6 million in grant funding to eight Massachusetts organizations to reduce barriers to job entry within the emerging offshore wind industry. The funding, awarded through the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center’s Expanding Access to Opportunity in the Offshore Wind Workforce Program, will support the development of equitable, accessible offshore wind workforce training programs led by organizations located in Amherst, Boston, Fall River, Falmouth, Lowell, Martha’s Vineyard, New Bedford, and Taunton.

“Massachusetts has led the way on the development of the emerging offshore wind industry, and our Administration is focused on ensuring women and minority candidates have access to the critical training programs they need to take advantage of these new job opportunities,” said Governor Charlie Baker. “Our plan to invest $100 million in critical port infrastructure through our ARPA spending proposal, along with these vital workforce training programs, will help unlock significant economic opportunities associated with offshore wind development and ensure that everyone in the Commonwealth can benefit from the potential jobs created in the years to come.”

“Expanding offshore wind training and educational programs targeting underrepresented populations will pave the way for the Commonwealth’s talented and diverse workforce to take advantage of rewarding new job opportunities in clean energy,” said Lieutenant Governor Karyn Polito. “We are pleased to support the offshore wind industry, our local colleges, workforce development organizations, and organized labor as they seek to help Massachusetts workers participate in this fast-growing industry.”

This funding reflects the Baker-Polito Administration’s commitment to supporting the development of a highly skilled offshore wind workforce that reflects the people of Massachusetts, addressing barriers to opportunity, and building pathways to grow a diverse, equitable, and inclusive workforce. Programs supported by this funding will increase access to offshore wind training opportunities by building interest in offshore wind careers through orientation programs at high school and adult education levels; targeting recruitment for existing training programs, and providing internships and apprenticeships; highlighting pathways to employment in offshore wind; and providing financial incentives, support and services to individuals to enable participation in training programs. 

“In order to achieve its ambitious target of Net Zero emissions by 2050, Massachusetts will need to build a vibrant, diverse, and skilled workforce to build the clean energy system of the future,” said Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Kathleen Theoharides. “These grants support key partnerships for local training programs that are focused on diversity, equity, and inclusion and helping all people across the Commonwealth find a pathway to opportunity in offshore wind.”

The eight organizations receiving funding span a range of approaches and partnerships to expand access to existing programs, educate groups and individuals about opportunities, and begin building pathways to enter and advance through the emerging offshore wind industry’s workforce. 

“Offshore wind has tremendous potential to create new clean energy jobs, but it is important that access to these jobs is equitable and inclusive. These training programs offer a critical pathway for workers throughout the Commonwealth to participate in this new American industry,” said MassCEC CEO Stephen Pike. “Diversity, equity and inclusion are central to our work at MassCEC. Massachusetts is well-positioned to serve as an economic hub for offshore wind on the East Coast and these grants will go a long way to achieving that goal in a way that truly lifts all boats.” 

In the development of the new U.S. offshore wind industry, Massachusetts has a unique opportunity to build the industry and its associated workforce with a commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion from the ground up. In 2018 MassCEC released a report on the workforce needs and economic impact of the emerging offshore wind industry, finding that the deployment of 1,600 MW of offshore wind is estimated to support between 2,300 and 3,100 direct job years over the next ten years and generate a total economic impact in Massachusetts of between $678 to $805 million.

In 2019 and 2020, MassCEC committed to $2.2 million in grants to support new or expanded offshore wind workforce training and educational programs in the Commonwealth at twelve institutions, organizations, and companies. Offshore wind developers Vineyard Wind and Mayflower Wind have pledged to provide funding for a portion of these prior grants once their projects achieve critical development milestones. These workforce development programs have helped establish Massachusetts as a leader in offshore wind workforce development in the U.S.  Workers trained through these programs will gain skills and expertise to support the planning, construction, and operation of offshore wind projects throughout the region.  

The institutions and organizations receiving funding are:

  • Asian American Civic Association - $250,000 – The funding will leverage existing diesel technician training program and provide recruitment, transportation, and other wraparound services to qualified individuals from Massachusetts population centers to complete Wind Turbine Technician Certificate at Bristol Community College.  Target priority groups include black and indigenous people of color, residents of environmental justice and gateway communities, immigrants, and returning ex-offenders.
  • Adult Continuing Education - $182,260 – The funding will launch a 24-month diversity outreach project dedicated to increasing the numbers of women and girls in offshore wind training and education.  The project scope includes a community-wide, multi-level promotion campaign, financial support for Wind Technician Certificate, expanded high school science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) programming and listening sessions.
  • Benjamin Franklin Institute of Technology and UMass Lowell - $241,300 – The funding will provide increased levels of financial and academic support to increase diversity in associate and bachelor's degree training programs for technician and engineering level positions in the offshore wind workforce. This project will focus on women, people of color, LGBTQIA+ communities, and recently incarcerated and released individuals convicted of low-level offenses.
  • Bristol Community College and Old Bedford Village - $143,550 – In partnership with other community organizations, BCC ad Old Bedford Village will create a communication campaign and neighborhood outreach strategy supported by an asynchronous orientation to offshore wind course focused on entry into the sector to drive access to opportunities in the offshore wind sector.  Priority groups for this initiative include residents of New Bedford (a Gateway City), black and indigenous people of color, women, veterans, under- and unemployed, and workers seeking to transition into offshore wind from other industries.
  • Building Pathways - $250,000 – Funding will support four 200+ hour Pre-Apprentice General Construction training programs to priority group participants for opportunities in the building trades industry with a focus on opportunities in the offshore wind industry.  Target priority groups include women, black and indigenous people of color, transitioning veterans, disabled, disconnected or at-risk youth and LGBTQIA community.
  • Self-Reliance - $174,204 – Funding will help to develop and run a 5-day, 40-hour experiential learning program that introduces the offshore wind industry to K-12 educators and students from Gateway Communities across Massachusetts.  The program centers around the established KidWind curriculum.
  • UMass Amherst Clean Energy Extension - $228,392 – Funding will help increase diversity in UMass Amherst Clean Energy Extension’s existing Offshore Wind Professional Certificate Program through relationships with multiple university STEM programs.  Recruitment will initially focus on black and indigenous people of color/ethnic minorities.  Subsequent recruitment will include veterans, individuals in Gateway Cities and Environmental Justice Communities, and indigenous populations, and women. UMass Amherst will build capacity and a sustainable program for STEM-oriented near-term and recent graduates from 4-year college degree programs from these priority groups.
  • Xodus Group and Browning the Green Space - $140,000 – Funding will help to develop and conduct a workforce program designed to provide Priority Group members with insight on career opportunities in offshore wind.  The program will include a targeted community and education engagement campaign that will deliver an overview of the offshore wind industry directed at high schools and community colleges in disadvantaged communities.Target groups include black and indigenous people of color, women, students in Chapter 74 vocational technical education programs, and unemployed and low-income individuals.  

In June 2021, the Baker-Polito Administration re-filed its plan to immediately put to use part of Commonwealth’s direct federal aid from the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) to support key priorities including housing and homeownership, economic development and local downtowns, job training and workforce development, health care, and infrastructure. As part of the Administration’s proposal to jump-start the Commonwealth’s economic recovery and support residents hardest-hit by COVID-19, such as lower-wage workers and communities of color,  Governor Baker would direct $900 million to key energy and environmental initiatives, including  $100 million to support marine port infrastructure and the deployment, construction, operation and maintenance of offshore wind. These investments would help the Commonwealth meet its clean energy and climate goals while revitalizing port areas, creating jobs and supporting other important local industries.

Massachusetts has selected two 800 megawatt (MW) projects, Vineyard Wind and Mayflower Wind, in two competitive procurements for offshore wind energy. On May 7, 2021, the Baker-Polito Administration, in the third round of its offshore wind solicitation process, issued a Request for Proposals (RFP) seeking an additional up to 1,600 MW of affordable, resilient clean energy. Bids are due on September 17, 2021, and a selection of project(s) will be announced by December 17, 2021. An important new component of the RFP is the requirement for offshore wind developers to include a diversity, equity and inclusion plan that with both a Workforce Diversity Plan and a Supplier Diversity Program Plan in their bid submittals.

This funding builds upon the Baker-Polito Administration’s ongoing efforts to support the Commonwealth’s vibrant clean energy industry. In March 2021, Governor Baker signed comprehensive climate change legislation that increased the Administration’s authorization to solicit an additional 2,400 Megawatts of offshore wind, bringing the state’s total commitment to 5,600 Megawatts. In December 2020, the Administration released two reports – the Massachusetts 2050 Decarbonization Roadmap Report and an interim 2030 Clean Energy and Climate Plan (CECP) – that detail policies and strategies to equitably and cost-effectively reduce emissions and combat climate change. The 2050 Roadmap found that the most cost-effective, low-risk pathways to Net Zero share core elements, including a balanced clean energy portfolio anchored by a significant offshore wind resource, more interstate transmission, and widespread electrification of transportation and building heat.