NEW BEDFORD, Mass. — Each year, the U.S. is adding thousands of new jobs in the renewable energy industry. But with that tremendous growth comes a growing need to get Americans trained to be successful in new career paths.
Captain Mike Burns at the Massachusetts Maritime Academy oversees one of those training programs that give workers skills needed to service offshore wind installations.
“These are projects developing all up and down the East Coast. We see tremendous growth happening all the time,” Burns said.
As of January 2022, the United States had more than 70,800 wind turbines. Every year, the country is building about 3,000 new turbines. Each one requires someone who can construct, maintain and service them.
At Massachusetts Maritime Academy, what might look like a fun day on the water is anything but. This is the next frontier in American job creation: a training program for workers looking to get into the wind turbine service industry. It's taking green energy industry jobs to new heights.
“Many of the skills we’re training them for are ones we hope they’ll never have to use,” Burns said.
In order to work on any offshore wind installation, most employers require people to take this three-day intensive course. One day that focuses on emergency evacuation and safety procedures.
“Skills they’ll need if they have to abandon ship and end up in the water, how to deploy a life raft, use various types of survival equipment,” Burns described.
Clean energy continues to be a massive source of job growth. Last year, more than 3 million of the 7.8 million jobs in the U.S. energy sector were in areas aligned with America’s carbon-neutral goals.
“Workforce development is critical because of the amount of construction that we have to do,” said Beth Soholt, executive director with the Clean Grid Alliance.
Soholt says with more and more of the country turning to renewable sources for electricity American workers will need new skills to stay relevant in the workforce.
"It’s going to be an all-hands-on-deck situation for the kind of workforce we’re going to need," she added