Island schools to run $20M institute for wind-farmers

Training cruise: With the offshore wind industry set to grow steadily, Farmingdale State College and Stony Brook University will help prepare a qualified workforce.
By GREGORY ZELLER //

The winds of workforce development are blowing again through Long Island’s leading academic institutions, two of which will anchor a new state-sanctioned project targeting the offshore wind industry.

Farmingdale State College and Stony Brook University will leverage a $20 million New York State Energy Research and Development Authority grant to create the Offshore Wind Training Institute, a worker-readiness effort focused on the burgeoning clean-gen industry, which looms large over future regional socioeconomics.

As part of the New York State Advisory Council on Offshore Wind Economic and Workforce Development, the OWTI will “provide New Yorkers with the skills and safety training needed to work in the offshore wind industry,” Farmingdale State said in a statement.

The two schools are expected to begin formally soliciting outside partnerships immediately, with classes – serving an initial student body of about 2,500 trainees – slated to begin in 2021.

Not a moment too soon, insiders say, with the production of 9,000 megawatts of offshore wind-generated electricity – including the development and construction of required infrastructure – coming by 2035, part of Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s master energy-and-employment strategy.

The 10,000 manufacturing, installation and operation jobs projected to accompany New York’s offshore-wind boom over the next decade-plus will add nicely to the already impressive total of 22,000 New Yorkers employed across multiple renewable-energy industries – giving the Empire State one of the largest and best-prepared clean-energy workforces in the nation, according to the governor.

Those jobs would also represent a shot in the arm for Cuomo’s Workforce Development Initiative, a $175 million Consolidated Funding Application process supporting short- and long-term employment efforts across the state.

John Nader: Gale force.

Calling the institute an “aggressive, all-encompassing approach to workforce training,” Cuomo said the OWTI would “bolster New York’s groundbreaking Workforce Development Initiative by helping ensure workers have the skills they need to compete and succeed in emerging industries that are quickly developing across our state.”

“With private sector employment at an all-time high, New York must continue to invest in its workforce and make certain that our workers have the necessary skills to work in a rapidly changing economy,” the governor added.

And Long Island is the perfect place to do it, according to Farmingdale State College President John Nader, who trumpeted significant benefits for the OWTI schools, partner institutions, regional economics and the global environment.

“Farmingdale’s place as a hub for the training institute is very good news for the college and the region,” Nader said in a statement. “The environmental and economic benefits to Long Island and the region are vital to our future.

“Farmingdale’s success in workforce development allows us to continue to prepare our economy for the future.”