The New Jersey Economic Development Authority is putting up a $1 million grant for whatever community college can roll out a wind turbine technician training program as the state seeks to ramp up its workforce for the offshore wind industry.
Formally called the “NJ Wind Turbine Tech Training Challenge,” the goal is to put up the money for a community college to develop and roll out a program that could address the “gap” of a labor shortage for the offshore wind sector, fueled by the lack of any relevant training program. Only one community college would get the grant, and the certificate program would need to be launched by the first three months of 2023, according to board documents from the May 12 meeting where the new program was approved.
State officials are eyeing the offshore wind and clean energy industry as key economic sectors for the state’s post-COVID economic recovery. Gov. Phil Murphy’s goals call for the availability of 7.5 gigawatts of offshore wind by the year 2035.
Community colleges will need to design their training program in coordination with a local labor union and offshore industry business, according to the NJEDA. The program needs to include a relevant curriculum and other training, a credit-bearing certificate toward an associate’s degree, and a clear pathway into the workforce.
“It is crucial that we take steps now to prepare to meet the industry’s workforce needs and to ensure equitable access to these opportunities for all New Jerseyans,” Tim Sullivan, who heads the NJEDA, said in a May 18 statement.
The Biden administration has shown increasing willingness to prioritize some of the state’s offshore wind goals, such as a potential upcoming approval for an 1,100-megawatt project several miles off the shore of Atlantic City. Another even larger wind project is also in the early stages of the application process.
In addition to the offshore wind farms, the state is moving ahead with a 200-acre “wind port” in Salem County, from which the state would ship out wind turbine components to the rest of the country.
And the state is pushing ahead a $250 million manufacturing facility for the wind turbines, based in Camden County along the Delaware River.