by Daegan Miller
The Baker-Polito administration and the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center recently announced that a team led by Extension professor Dwayne Breger at the University of Massachusetts Amherst has been selected for a two-year award of more than $228,000. The funding will help UMass Amherst to expand access for underrepresented and target populations to its existing Offshore Wind (OSW) Professional Certificate Program.
he work will be in partnership with diversity offices in STEM-related colleges and departments in Massachusetts and New York as well as with several offshore wind-energy industry-partners.
The funding, awarded through the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center’s Expanding Access to Opportunity in the Offshore Wind Workforce Program, will support the development of equitable, accessible offshore-wind workforce training programs led by organizations across the Commonwealth.
Breger, who is also director of UMass Clean Energy Extension, says, “Our objective with this award is to help prepare underrepresented populations for the rapidly growing offshore wind energy industry, including BIPOC/ethnic minorities, Veterans, indigenous populations, women and residents of the state’s Gateway Cities.”
Jody Jellison, director of the UMass Center for Agriculture, Food and the Environment and UMass Extension, says, “This program is of great benefit to the emerging offshore wind energy sector and serves to enable expanded workforce participation from traditionally underrepresented groups. We are very grateful for this new funding.”
UMass and its project partners will collaborate to enlarge capacity and build a sustainable program for near-term and recent graduates from four-year college degree programs from identified priority groups. The initiative will provide:
- certificate program tuition scholarships and non-curriculum student support.
- a comprehensive professional development program, including coaching and mentoring.
- recruitment opportunities with academic partners, including UMass Amherst, UMass Lowell, UMass Boston, MIT and the City University of New York.
- tailored solutions to potential barriers for participating students.
Industry partners include CREADIS Inc., LAUTEC, Sustainable Energy Advantage, LLC and others. They will offer internship opportunities and professional mentoring while (or after) participating students complete the certificate. After a year of certificate courses, professional development and internship experience, students will be well-prepared to secure and retain professional career positions in the OSW industry.
“Expanding offshore wind training and educational programs targeting underrepresented populations will pave the way for the Commonwealth’s talented and diverse workforce to take advantage of rewarding new job opportunities in clean energy,” said Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito. “We are pleased to support the offshore wind industry, our local colleges, workforce development organizations, and organized labor as they seek to help Massachusetts workers participate in this fast-growing industry.”
“In order to achieve its ambitious target of Net Zero emissions by 2050, Massachusetts will need to build a vibrant, diverse, and skilled workforce to build the clean energy system of the future,” said Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Kathleen Theoharides. “These grants support key partnerships for local training programs that are focused on diversity, equity and inclusion and helping all people across the Commonwealth find a pathway to opportunity in offshore wind.”
Read the full press release here.