Massachusetts Maritime Academy trains workers for jobs in clean energy

“The opportunity to work in the clean energy industry is great for our members,” said Dave Borrus, Pile Drivers and Divers Local 56 business manager.

The Massachusetts Maritime Academy (MMA) is training workers who will build the wind farms that will provide clean energy to the northeast U.S.

“It’s a fact that the clean energy industry is growing, and we are taking steps to be involved in this unique opportunity,” said Rear Admiral Francis X. McDonald, USMS, President of the Massachusetts Maritime Academy.

“One of the most important ways we can contribute is by training the men and women who will be on the front lines of this emerging industry,” McDonald said.

The Massachusetts Clean Energy Center provided funding in 2018 for MMA to build its Global Wind Organization training facility at the Maritime Center for Responsibility Energy. The center consists of a waterfront crew transfer training facility, a 25-foot crew transfer training vessel, and a facility for training in working at height. MMA began in 2019 offering GWO basic safety training, becoming the first in the U.S. to offer all five modules of GWO basic safety training for offshore wind.

The course includes modules about working at height, first aid, fire awareness, manual handlings, and sea survival. Instructors’ goals are to make workers familiar with wind industry work hazards and how to deal with them.

Three wind farms are in various stages of development in the Atlantic Ocean, about 20 miles south of Nantucket and Martha’s Vineyard. Those farms’ developers require the basic safety training course. “MMA has the experience to deliver this critical course, ensuring quality training to the people who will be out on open water building the wind turbines,” said Jenni Lewis, MD RelyOn Nutec Gulf of Mexico.

Members of Pile Drivers and Divers Local 56, the marine construction local of the North Atlantic States Carpenters Union, are taking advantage of the course. “This training is critical to our members,” said Dave Borrus, business manager of Pile Drivers & Divers Local 56. “The opportunity to work in the clean energy industry is great for our members but there are occupational risks, too. Safety must be at the forefront of each member’s mind,” said Borrus.

The Massachusetts Clean Energy Center is sponsoring Local 56 members’ participation with a $100,000 workforce development grant.

Training consists of both classroom and practical exercises. Participants acquire knowledge and confidence by learning the practical skills they need through practice. Students learn the proper use of personal protective equipment, emergency equipment, and procedures with the end result being able to appropriately respond in the event of an emergency.

Capt. Mike Burns, Executive Director of the Academy’s MCRE, praised the maritime academy’s training. “Every group that has gone through the training has been exceptional. The participants are highly skilled professionals who understand the importance of safety in this industry. It’s our honor to help them prepare for the next phase in their careers,” Burns said.