EDA, Gloucester Tech sign MOU to help prepare students for offshore wind manufacturing jobs

Authority to provide $75,000 grant with emphasis on training in welding, painting

The New Jersey Economic Development Authority and the Gloucester County Institute of Technology announced Monday plans to enter a Memorandum of Understanding to support the expansion of GCIT’s welding and painting programs aimed at preparing students and workers for jobs in offshore wind component manufacturing.

Through the MOU, the EDA will provide up to $75,000 for programs that prepare students and workers for jobs in heavy steel offshore wind component manufacturing. Supported by funding from the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities, this MOU is aligned with the creation of the Wind Institute that will accelerate offshore wind workforce development and innovation in New Jersey.

“Job creation in the high-growth offshore wind industry has been a priority for Gov. Phil Murphy, and cultivating a pipeline of skilled workers is vital to achieving that goal,” EDA CEO Tim Sullivan said. “This MOU is latest in a series of bold steps the NJEDA is taking to establish New Jersey as a hub for offshore wind manufacturing.”

State Senate President Steve Sweeney (D-West Deptford) said investing in the future of the offshore wind industry is just as important as investing in the education to create skilled employees.

“The partnership with NJEDA allows the school to tailor their program to fit the skills necessary to work in this industry,” he said. “The goal is to educate our students so they can find employment at Paulsboro Marine Terminal, located only 20 minutes from their high school.”

GCIT, a four-year vocational-technical public high school in Sewell, is collaborating with EEW American Offshore Structures, a leading manufacturer of offshore wind monopile foundations, to expand and tailor its welding and painting programs. GCIT students will learn the specific job skills required by EEW and other large-scale offshore wind turbine component manufacturers.

In December 2020, EEW announced a $250 million investment in a state-of-the-art manufacturing facility to build steel components, known as monopiles. These monopiles will be used as foundations for offshore wind turbines across the Eastern Seaboard. The facility, which is located at the Paulsboro Marine Terminal in Gloucester County, is the largest industrial offshore wind investment in the U.S. to date. Construction on the facility broke ground earlier this year and hiring of specialized welders and painters will begin by the end of next year.

“Gloucester County is a leader in job innovation and prioritizes creating opportunity for individuals to learn the skills necessary to excel in their future careers,” said Robert M. Damminger, director of the Gloucester County board of commissioners. “Strong partnerships between the county, GCIT, Rowan College of South Jersey and Rowan University is the reason Gloucester County is the fastest-growing county in New Jersey and will continue to add talented, hard-working and successful applicants into the career pool.”

EEW anticipates hiring hundreds of workers for the project, the majority of which will be welders and painters. Job skills learned through the expansion of GCIT’s welding and painting programs will position GCIT graduates as attractive candidates for jobs at the Paulsboro Marine Terminal, as well as other large-scale component manufacturing facilities as the industry grows in New Jersey.

“Workforce development and skills training are critical, as we look to staff our new offshore wind factory in Paulsboro,” EEW CEO Lee Laurendeau said. “The collaboration with industry, education and government is necessary to realize the hundreds of clean energy manufacturing jobs in South Jersey. EEW would like to thank their partners, knowing that this is the beginning of an entirely new industry being brought to the state of New Jersey.”