Massachusetts Maritime Academy Trains More Than 120 Individuals To Work in Clean Energy Industry

Guest blog by Capt. Mike Burns, Executive Director of the Academy’s MCRE

The United States Department of Energy estimates 43,000 new jobs will be created in the offshore wind market by 2030. A Massachusetts Clean Energy study estimates that offshore wind farms will create 2,000-3,000 jobs and generate economic impacts between $1-2 billion in the region. 

Massachusetts Maritime Academy (MMA) saw a unique opportunity to be involved in this growing industry and thought one of the most important ways we could contribute would be by training the men and women who will be on the front lines of this new industry. We’re helping prepare the workforce for clean energy opportunities that are coming to our region by delivering key training for personnel who will build the windfarms that will power the Northeast region with clean energy.

In 2018, MMA received funding from the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center to build our Global Wind Organization (GWO) Training Center at the Academy’s Maritime Center for Responsible Energy (MCRE). The GWO Training Center consists of waterfront Crew Transfer Training Facility (CTTF), a 25-foot Crew Transfer Training Vessel, and a Working at Heights training facility. At the end of 2019, MMA, in cooperation with RelyOn Nutec, began offering the globally recognized GWO Basic Safety Training (BST) at our Buzzards Bay campus, becoming the first facility in the nation to offer all five modules of GWO BST for Offshore Wind.

The GWO BST course, developed by RelyOn Nutec, an established leader in the offshore wind industry, consists of five modules: Working at Heights, First Aid, Fire Awareness, Manual Handling, and Sea Survival. The modules are taught by MMA instructors whose goal is to have participants gain an awareness of the hazards encountered when working in the wind industry and how to control and mitigate against those hazards. 

Currently, there are three windfarms in various stages of development that will be built in the Atlantic Ocean approximately 20 miles south of Nantucket and Martha’s Vineyard. The developers of these windfarms are all requiring that anyone working on these sites must complete Basic Safety Training.

Working with RelyOn Nutec is a perfect partnership in developing and delivering this type of training. RelyOn Nutec is the subject matter expert in this area, their instructors have a deep understanding of working in high-risk environments and have first-hand experience of the potential risks in the renewables industry. Our MMA staff has the experience to deliver these critical courses, ensuring quality training to the people who will be out on open water building the wind turbines. 

One of the first organizations to take advantage of the MMA training is the Pile Drivers and Divers Local 56, the marine construction local of the North Atlantic States Carpenters Union. Union leaders understand the opportunity to work in the clean energy industry is great for their members but also realize that there are occupational risks. They know that safety must be at the forefront of each member’s mind, and the training we’re delivering is helping members understand and prepare for the hazards they may face. 

The Massachusetts Clean Energy Center is sponsoring Local 56 members’ participation with a $100,000 Workforce Development Grant. The North Atlantic States Carpenters Training Fund (NASCTF) has co-sponsored training with an addition $50,000. So far, 39 members have graduated from the course, including three at the instructor level, and an additional 24 individuals are scheduled to participate in October and November. 

In addition, 24 members of the International Association of Bridge, Structural, Ornamental and Reinforcing Ironworkers Local 7 (Boston) and Local 37 (Providence) as well as employees of Vineyard Wind, Orsted, Dominion Energy, GE, and Siemens Gamesa have all participated in GWO Basic Safety Training at MMA.

Training consists of both classroom and practical exercises. Participants acquire knowledge and confidence by learning the practical skills they need through practice. Students learn the proper use of personal protective equipment, emergency equipment, and procedures with the end result being able to appropriately respond in the event of an emergency. 

Every group that has gone through the training has been exceptional. The participants are highly skilled professionals who understand the importance of safety in this industry. It’s our honor to help them prepare for the next phase in their careers. 

To learn more about Offshore Wind training at the Massachusetts Maritime Academy, go here