Baker-Polito Administration Awards $1.3 Million for Offshore Wind Workforce Training Programs

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Matthew Mogavero

The Baker-Polito Administration today announced $1.3 million in grants to nine Massachusetts institutions and organizations to establish or expand workforce training and development programs that support the state’s emerging offshore wind industry. The awards include a $100,000 commitment from Vineyard Wind’s Windward Workforce Fund and a $100,000 commitment from Mayflower Wind’s Offshore Wind Development Fund, and collectively, the grants leverage an estimated cost-share from awardees of approximately $950,000. The programs will be led by institutions located in Taunton, Bourne, Martha’s Vineyard, Lowell, New Bedford, Boston, North Dartmouth, Burlington, and Gloucester, and will serve workers throughout Massachusetts.

“Massachusetts is a national leader in the responsible development of the emerging offshore wind industry,” said Governor Charlie Baker. “With offshore wind farm construction and installation poised to begin off the Massachusetts coast in the coming years, these grants will leverage the Commonwealth’s workforce strengths and foster critical training and educational programs that establish career pathways into this new industry.”

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

This announcement builds on the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center’s (MassCEC) first slate of offshore wind workforce grants, awarded in 2019, and represents an ongoing commitment to support the development of a workforce in Massachusetts that can meet the varied needs of the emergent offshore wind industry. Workers trained through these projects will gain skills and expertise to support the planning, construction, and operation of offshore wind projects throughout the region including the Vineyard Wind and Mayflower Wind projects, two 800 megawatt (MW) projects selected by the Commonwealth’s Electric Distribution Companies through competitive procurements established in the 2016 legislation, An Act Relative to Energy Diversity.

The nine new workforce development programs will further expand the broad-based ecosystem of institutions and organizations throughout the Commonwealth that are helping Massachusetts workers to secure high-quality jobs in offshore wind. Specifically, these awards support health, safety, and technical training programs; offshore wind vocational education; programs that help members of organized labor unions and commercial fishing interested in offshore wind jobs develop the needed skills; and the build-out of higher education pathways for students interested offshore wind.

“Offshore wind remains an integral part of the Baker-Polito Administration’s strategy to achieve net zero emissions and supports the Commonwealth’s vision for a clean, reliable, and resilient electric grid,” said Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Kathleen Theoharides. “These grants, which build key partnerships between the offshore wind industry and local training and educational providers, will help the Commonwealth continue to build a world-class offshore wind workforce.”

The institutions and organizations receiving funding are:

  • Adult Continuing Education – Martha’s Vineyard (ACE MV):  $128,140 to further support an Offshore Wind Technician Certificate program on Martha’s Vineyard, encourage high school dual enrollment in this Certificate program, and explore options for incorporating marine science and technology programming into Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School’s Career and Technical Education Program.  
  • A.I.S., Inc. (AIS):  $21,300 to expand their existing Protected Species Observer training program to include an on-the-water training component, while also developing a new training that improves offshore wind Operations and Maintenance professionals’ understanding of regional protected species.
  • Bristol Community College (BCC):  $125,125 to expand essential training and health certification programs at the college’s National Offshore Wind Institute in New Bedford, conduct a feasibility study to understand the need and interest for additional safety and technical training programs, and develop a Basics of Offshore Wind program with the goal of helping Massachusetts businesses and individuals better understand where their existing skills and expertise can fit when it comes to supporting this new industry. 
  • Fishing Partnership Support Services (FPSS):  $49,562 to work with the Commercial Fisheries Center of Rhode Island and the University of Rhode Island Fisheries Center to develop industry-standardized professional requirements for the safety and inspection of vessels for use in the offshore wind industry, which will allow interested fishermen to upskill and retrain for important offshore wind job opportunities that can augment their fishing incomes.
  • Gloucester Fishermen’s Wives Development Program (GFWDP):  $297,417 to work with the Massachusetts Fishermen’s Partnership and the Northeast Maritime Institute to recruit and pre-qualify commercial fishermen for enrollment in dedicated training and certification programs at the Northeast Maritime Institute.
  • International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) Local Union #223:  $300,000 to establish a high voltage and fiber optic training program for skilled electricians at the IBEW’s training facility in Taunton, in partnership with JDR Cables, a cable supplier for the Vineyard Wind 1 project.
  • Massachusetts Maritime Academy (MMA):  $75,000 to conduct a feasibility study to understand the need, interest, and business case for developing and delivering a crew transfer vessel operator training program, specialized helicopter transfer training, and Global Wind Organisation (GWO) Advanced Rescue Training.  
  • University of Massachusetts, Lowell (UML):  $244,457 to build on existing offshore wind workforce research and analyze the local labor market and current university-level educational offerings, and then develop educational content and associated credentialing to fill existing gaps.
  • VINCIVR, Inc.:  $124,670 to certify two Global Wind Organisation (GWO) courses (Basic Technical Training-Installation and Slinger Signaler) using virtual reality simulations in partnership with Siemens Gamesa Renewable Energy, an offshore wind turbine manufacturer.  

In April 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.

“Offshore wind has tremendous potential to create new clean energy jobs, and these training programs offer a critical pathway for workers throughout the Commonwealth to participate in this new American industry,” said MassCEC CEO Stephen Pike.“Massachusetts has a proud maritime heritage, robust innovation economy, and unique academic and training assets, making the state well-positioned to serve as an economic hub for offshore wind on the East Coast.” 

“Bristol Community College’s National Offshore Wind Institute in New Bedford is an integral part of making the Commonwealth a national leader in offshore wind energy, and I am thrilled that it was included in this reward,” said Senator Michael J. Rodrigues (D – Westport), Chair of the Senate Committee on Ways and Means.  “I applaud the Baker-Polito Administration for their continued commitment to strengthening Massachusetts’ workforce and building local economic opportunities critical to supporting this emerging industry.”

"UMass Lowell has always been on the cutting edge of emerging technologies” said Senator Edward Kennedy (D – Lowell)  “As we continue to work toward incorporating more alternative energy sources into our daily lives, reduce carbon emissions, and combat the impact of climate change, I am very pleased to see UMass Lowell doing this work to prepare the much-needed workforce and am grateful for this grant program for helping them to do so." 

“These investments will help position our local workforce for future careers in clean, renewable energy,” said Senator Mark Montigny (D-New Bedford).  “The offshore wind industry must mature properly if it is to coexist with our robust commercial fishing fleet, and the development of quality safety and technical training programs is an absolute necessity toward that goal.”

“I am thrilled to see the Baker-Polito Administration build on the Legislature’s work in advancing economic development and clean energy by bringing offshore wind to the Commonwealth,” said Representative Thomas Golden (D – Lowell), House Chairman of the Joint Committee on Telecommunications, Utilities, and Energy. "The Legislature passed laws in 2016 and 2018 that together authorized competitive procurements for 3,200 MW of offshore wind.  As these procurements bring new, high-paying jobs to the state, workforce training and development programs made possible through MassCEC grants will equip Massachusetts residents with the skills and education they need to take up these rewarding jobs.  I especially look forward to our higher education institutions such as UMass Lowell playing a central role in supporting a local green workforce and further cultivating their offshore wind industry expertise.”

“For several years, New Bedford has been dutifully preparing itself for the launch of the offshore wind energy industry. I am thrilled to hear that we, as a state, remain committed to investing in our higher education institutions, like Bristol Community College, by promoting and expanding workforce training opportunities. The City’s workforce needs to be directly involved in the offshore wind industry’s ultimate success and these grants will help us best achieve regional economic growth.” said State Representative Antonio F. D. Cabral (D – New Bedford)

“The potential for job creation in the offshore wind industry is well documented, but without a well trained workforce there is no way we can meet the demands of the sector,” said Vineyard Wind CEO Lars T. Pedersen. “These grants take us a huge step forward and will ensure that residents can tap into the good paying jobs that will spur the broader industry. We thank the Baker-Polito Administration for their leadership and appreciate their commitment to making Massachusetts a national leader in this 21st Century industry.”

“Mayflower Wind is deeply committed to fostering job growth and economic development in the coastal communities that are key partners in our efforts: strengthening these communities, while training the workforce that the offshore wind industry will need to safely and effectively build for the future, is a win for everyone,” said Seth Kaplan, Director of External Affairs, Mayflower Wind.

This funding builds upon the Baker-Polito Administration’s ongoing efforts to support the Commonwealth’s vibrant clean energy industry. In January, Governor Baker committed to a goal of net-zero greenhouse gas emissions in the Commonwealth by 2050.  In an effort to take bold actions to address the Commonwealth’s climate impact, the Administration has, to date, secured 9,450,000MWh of hydroelectric energy and 1,600 MW of offshore wind energy. In 2018, Governor Baker signed legislation that has helped Massachusetts remain a national leader in clean energy while working to reduce costs to ratepayers. That bill, An Act to Advance Clean Energy (H.4857), included the Governor’s proposal to create the first Clean Peak Standard in the country, increased the Commonwealth’s energy storage target to 1,000 megawatt-hours, increased the Renewable Portfolio Standard, expanded the Mass Save® programs to allow for strategic electrification and other clean energy technologies, and authorized the Department of Energy Resources to require an additional 1,600 MW of offshore wind to be procured by the electric distribution companies in Massachusetts.