OFFSHORE WIND - THE U.S. WORKFORCE

Size and Scope of the Current U.S Offshore Wind Workforce

The offshore wind industry has a potential to create a significant number of jobs. The U.S. has an already established land based wind industry with an estimated 120,000 U.S. workers across all 50 states. In New York it is estimated that there are 3,491 people working in land based wind. With respect to manufacturing there are over 500 facilities across 42 states manufacturing parts for land-based wind projects and employing a workforce of over 25,000.

In offshore wind, it is likely that there are about 200-300 individuals working full time in the U.S. (This is a rough approximation. To date, no studies have been performed that attempt to size the current offshore wind workforce in the U.S., we have derived this number based upon knowledge of the industry, review of online sources such as company websites and LinkedIn). These several hundred jobs are opening the door for projects that will employ in some cases as many as a thousand people during assembly and construction.

There are also a number of workers who have experience working on offshore wind projects that were short term participants on an offshore wind project. For example, in the RI/Massachusetts area there are about 300 skilled trades workers with experience assembling, constructing and installing the Block Island Wind Farm. There is a handful of individuals in the U.S currently engaged in operations and maintenance of the Block Island Wind Farm. And a handful more who recently began to work on the CVOW.

There are also hundreds of support services workers performing scientific, engineering, environmental assessments, financial, legal and other services. It is unclear how much time these workers typically focus on offshore wind, however as the industry grows the number of support service workers who spend 100% of their time working in the industry will grow significantly.

Workforce Development

States across the northeast are working to address anticipated workforce needs of the industry. Colleges, labor unions, community groups and others are developing workforce programs. According to BW Partnership, there are approximately 40 education or training programs focused on offshore wind that have been proposed in the U.S. Project developers are also committing funds to workforce development and training programs.

Offshore Wind Training Programs & Ports
WDI has developed a map of education and training for Offshore Wind in the U.S. This interactive map developed by WDI includes both lease areas and ports, and will be updated with additions over time.

To capture the benefits of the offshore wind industry, states are committing resources toward workforce development:

  • New York has announced the availability of $20 million for an Offshore Wind Training Institute. Farmingdale State College and SUNY Stony Brook will formally solicit partners for a $20 million Offshore Wind Training Institute so that training of 2,500 New Yorkers can begin in 2021.
  • Massachusetts has awarded 15 grants (six in 2019 and nine in 2020) for over $2 million to colleges, labor unions, businesses and community organizations to establish or expand workforce training and development programs that support the state’s emerging offshore wind industry.
  • Maryland set aside $2.8 million to fund training centers to “ensure Maryland has a ready and able workforce capable of contributing to the construction, installation, and operations & maintenance of an offshore wind energy project.”
  • New Jersey will provide $4.5 million to support offshore wind workforce development projects. These funds will support investments made by the Wind Innovation and New Development (WIND) Institute based upon a stakeholder prepared blueprint for a training center.
  • The Real Jobs Rhode Island provided a grant to create WindWinRI to design and implement career pathways training system to meet needs of offshore wind industry in Rhode Island. RI also commissioned a needs assessment to assess its preparedness to support further offshore wind energy development.

Project Developers are also supporting offshore wind training. In New York Ørsted/Eversource, a major piece of its proposal to New York was a commitment to provide $10 million for seed funding for the creation of a National Offshore Wind Training Center in Suffolk County. The Empire Wind project is providing $4.5M to community benefits and workforce development, which will further the goals of New York’s National Offshore Wind Training Institute and Community and Workforce Benefits Fund. In Massachusetts, Vineyard Wind plans to invest $2 million in training programs.   

Future Skills Exchange (FSX)

Another tool to advance offshore wind workforce development is the Future Skills Exchange (FSX). Led by the Workforce Development Institute (WDI) in collaboration with Innovate+Educate, it is a free, interactive, web-based platform that connects New Yorkers seeking courses, certifications, apprenticeships, and credentials directly to the education and training providers who deliver them. The platform is easy to use, free of charge to all, and provides a new medium for training providers to showcase their training services.  It is a great place for offshore wind educational institutions and training providers to list their offshore wind technical and safety training programs.

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