The growth of American offshore wind offers us a generational chance not just to bolster our energy independence and protect us from pollution, it will deliver high-wage, permanent careers to Americans. And if we work together, we can use training programs like Wind Power Ready to train and recruit those who have been left out of great careers in the past.
Although New Jersey does not have any offshore wind farms operating yet, that's all about to change. The state and federal government have approved three offshore leases as part of the state's ambitious goal to deploy 11 GW of offshore wind energy by 2040 – enough to power an estimated 3.2 million homes with affordable and reliable clean energy.
If we meet that goal, wind turbines will send clean electricity to our homes and businesses, but like any industry, it is people that will power offshore wind's success. The offshore wind energy industry will need a well-trained workforce to build and maintain wind farms, and we need that workforce to reflect New Jersey's diversity. That's our focus and our motivation for investing in the training, support and direct placement of New Jersey workers in this new industry.
A leading example of this investment is Wind Power Ready: Atlantic City, a new partnership with Rowan College of South Jersey to train the United States' first generation of offshore wind farm technicians. The program will provide paid, full-time training and support for students to overcome barriers like transportation, childcare and housing, and a direct connection to Ørsted as we prepare to hire wind farm technicians who will maintain Ocean Wind 1, New Jersey's first offshore wind farm. Once hired, Ørsted wind farm technicians will be paid at least $65,000 per year, plus benefits.
Wind Power Ready students will develop skills they'll need to safely maintain wind turbines in a unique workplace: in and around 500-foot towers standing in the open ocean, fifteen miles off the New Jersey coast. Over just twenty-two weeks, participants of this learning, students will graduate as prime candidates for Ørsted to hire. Recognizing the rigor of this program, and in alignment with environmental justice principles and the Justice40 initiative, we have set a goal of hiring 40% of our entry level turbine technicians from the Wind Power Ready program.
Wind Power Ready seeks to remove or reduce barriers for anyone interested in this highly paid, green career. Applicants only need to have a high school education, be over the age of 18, and be able to do the physical work associated with being a wind farm technician. During training, students will be paid a stipend of $15 per hour. Transportation will be provided where needed and we will not be requiring driver licenses. Folks with prior arrests or convictions are welcome to apply. Wind Power Ready will not require students to undergo a drug test to enter the program. The Center for Family Services will connect students to supports that they will need to be successful. We strongly encourage women, Black and brown New Jerseyans and citizens of tribal communities to apply. In summary, we believe that between the quality training and targeted support services we will deliver, anyone who meets those baseline qualifications can have a long, rewarding career in offshore wind.
This is a career, not a job. Wind farm technicians will be needed for the useful life of Ocean Wind 1 – at least 25 years. While the starting salary of $65,000 plus benefits is competitive, it is only the beginning. Ørsted offers extensive opportunities for advancement to help those hired keep challenging themselves and being rewarded accordingly.
Wind Power Ready: Atlantic City is the first installment in a nationwide workforce development strategy for Ørsted. Across our offshore portfolio, which now spans five states and is the largest in the United States, Ørsted will use the Wind Power Ready model to train and recruit local entry-level offshore wind farm technicians – with a specific focus on engaging women, Black and brown communities, and individuals that have been disproportionately harmed by pollution and environmental racism. As we do so, Ørsted will continue to work with local stakeholders near our offshore wind facilities to bring people into these rewarding careers. Applications for Wind Power Ready: Atlantic City are being accepted through June 5. Learn more and sign up to attend an information session by visiting www.rcsj.edu/windtech.
Erik Antokal, of Brooklyn, N.Y., is director of workforce development at Ørsted, a global leader in offshore wind power.