NEW BEDFORD – While based in Taunton, Building Pathways South plans to expand into New Bedford knowing that it's home base for the first commercial offshore wind project in the United States.
The pre-apprenticeship program Building Pathways South led by project coordinator Yvonne Tobey is an exploratory program for people who might want to join the union building trades and, by their attendance at the Vineyard Wind career fair Jan. 12, are open to working in the wind industry in the future.
Building Pathways South is now offering a 27-hour certificate from the Massachusetts Maritime Academy in Offshore Wind 101.
"We are growing, growing and growing," she said.
The new offshore wind course is another way to introduce people to the role of the building trades for the growing offshore wind industry in addition to its role in career placement.
"The union building trades is not for the faint of heart, so they go through seven weeks of boot camp to find out what it's like to get up at dawn and work hard for eight hours," Tobey said. "We have 40 hours of construction math, we have 40 hours of on-hand woodworking experience, and we visit many training centers in Massachusetts so that they can see what it's like to be at a training center."
Vineyard Wind CEO Klaus Skoust Moeller said he considers it a major success and a good sign for the industry that so many people attended the job fair after expecting about 200 people and seeing more than anticipated.
"The companies and the unions have really done a good job in setting up their tables here," he said. "I think it's super interesting even if you're not looking for a job right now that it's good to get informed," he said.
He said it's understandable that people are asking a lot of questions about the new industry.
"I think that's fair," he said. "It's a new industry, and people don't know the opportunities well," he said. "It's getting people to understand that there's a lot of work now while we're in construction that started last year and we're ramping up this year but also for the next 30 years we'll be operating the wind farm and there will be a lot of jobs."
Open positions at the career fair included electricians, welders, pipe fitters, mechanics, fabricators, carpenters, painters, laborers, technicians, marine life observers, GIS analysts, deck hands, mates, captains, safety managers, equipment operators, project managers and many others.
Moeller said more opportunities are sure to follow.
"This is the first, but there will be more wind farms," he said. "Whatever you can learn here you can use on the next and the next one."
Vineyard Wind has been in Barnstable with hundreds of employees working on its onshore substation that connects the cable to the grid for more than year, and with the signing of a lease in New Bedford, work on turbine installation will begin in February, with the first turbine is set to be installed this summer.
Standard-Times staff writer Kathryn Gallerani can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter: @kgallreporter. Support local journalism by purchasing a digital or print subscription to The Standard-Times today.