LINCOLN, R.I. (WPRI) — Offshore wind is a fast-growing industry in Rhode Island, so the state is taking steps to help people prepare for careers in that field.

Gov. Dan McKee announced Wednesday the state’s first Global Wind Organization (GWO) training certificate program at the Community College of Rhode Island’s Flanagan campus in Lincoln.

The program is being create through a partnership between two offshore wind developers – Ørsted and Eversource – along with CCRI, the R.I. Department of Labor and Training, R.I. Commerce, and the R.I. Building and Construction Trades Council and Building Futures.

“Rhode Island is the leader in wind and renewable energy,” McKee said, adding that the program will also lead to the creation of more jobs.

“This is not just about creating good-paying jobs for Rhode Islanders. It’s also about protecting Rhode Island’s future,” he added. “Our environment and our economy have intersected and we are going to take advantage of that.”

Officials said the classes will provide safety training required to work in offshore wind farm construction and operations, from first aid and fire awareness to working at heights and sea survival. The course takes 44 hours to complete, officials added, and the certification is valid for two years.

Work on the curriculum and facility will begin this fall, with the program expected to open for enrollment in early 2023.

“When I signed the Act on Climate last year, we recommitted ourselves to investing in clean, renewable energy,” McKee said. “As a state, we made a commitment to be bold in our effort to address climate change. We are the Ocean State and we are on the forefront on the climate crisis, but we are also well-positioned to lead the way in fighting that crisis.”

As Gov. McKee runs for reelection, 12 News reached out to other gubernatorial candidates for comment on the program:

Dana Walton, campaign manager for Nellie Gorbea

“Rhode Island needs more than a photo-op governor. The real credit goes to the leaders in the community, private sector, and trades who have been working tirelessly to keep this growing industry in the Ocean State.”

Luis Daniel Muñoz, MD

“If equity is at the forefront of the training program, then it would be great to have a detailed breakdown of enrollment criteria, training time expectations, travel requirements, and support services available to workers. If we are engaging in public and private partnerships, we should also have clear and agreed upon expectations, as to how many jobs will be made available to workers, and how those positions will be distributed in an equitable way. When forming public private partnerships geared towards training programs with specific companies, it’s important to have a clear structure of accountability in place, and any key performance metrics used to measure success should be delineated and communicated transparently to the public. As it relates to RI’s institutions of higher ed, I believe that RI should be expanding these types of education and training programs, and we can certainly make them more accessible by expanding RI’s promise’s program offerings and admission accessibility (i.e., to increase admission of non-traditional students). We should work towards bringing all publicly funded retraining programs under this one umbrella program (RI Promise).

“We must also take a holistic approach when developing green technology training programs, such as, ensuring that we are providing trainees with the skills they’ll need to work with a diverse set of employers and renewable energy technologies, including wind and solar.”