NORTH KINGSTOWN, R.I. (WPRI) — Rhode Island just received a major boost in funding that will be used to help educate high school students interested in pursuing a career in the growing offshore wind industry.
Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse said the state has received $375,000 in federal funding for a new program that will allow students to earn a Career and Technical Education (CTE) certification in offshore wind energy.
“Thanks in large part to this federal funding, Rhode Island high school students will soon be able to graduate with a credential to help them land a well-paying job in the growing offshore wind industry,” Whitehouse said.
The certification will be available to all Rhode Island high school students.
The North Kingstown Chamber of Commerce previously established WindWinRI, the nation’s first and only offshore wind career program. The certification program has been successfully tested and implemented at Block Island, Exeter-West Greenwich, North Kingstown, Shea and Warwick Career and Technical high schools.
The Chamber plans to develop a new offshore wind energy CTE program that will be available to any interested school in the state.
“This will provide the state of Rhode Island a robust talent pipeline starting with high school graduates. Additionally, this supports Rhode Island’s Blue Economy initiative,” said Kristin Urbach, Executive Director of the North Kingstown Chamber of Commerce and WindWinRI.
The Chamber is working with the R.I. Department of Education and the state CTE Board to establish the offshore wind CTE program for Rhode Island secondary schools. They also plan to design a new offshore wind-related program for middle and elementary school students.
“The creation of a new offshore wind energy Career and Technical Education certification program is a critical milestone as we prepare the next generation of offshore wind energy workers,” Ørsted’s David Ortiz said. “Through this program, high school students can take advantage of hands-on training that will translate directly to careers in an American industry that started in Rhode Island and is rapidly-growing across the United States.”
A curriculum has not yet been developed but will be crafted with input from those currently working in the offshore wind industry.
Rhode Island became home to the first offshore wind farm in the United States back in 2016.