New Jersey officials have long said they want the fast-growing offshore wind industry to offer economic opportunities — a fancy way of saying career opportunities — to all segments of the population, especially underserved communities.
The New Jersey Economic Development Authority announced earlier this month that it is making grant money available to organizations working to forward that cause.
The $3.725 million Offshore Wind Workforce and Skills Development Grant Challenge will offer grants ranging from $100,000 to $1 million to selected entities that will aid in launching or expanding innovative workforce training and skills programs focused on strengthening and diversifying New Jersey’s offshore wind workforce.
Through the Grant Challenge, entities that can provide skill development, workforce training, job placement and other related services to develop, implement or expand workforce development initiatives in offshore wind can apply for grants to create their proposed programs.
Priority in this grant challenge will be given to applicants or applicant teams that propose initiatives supporting training and job access for residents of overburdened communities.
Grants will be awarded to proposals that achieve the highest overall scores based on the established proposal scoring criteria.
Applicants are encouraged to collaborate with additional entities, including for-profit or nonprofit entities, to design and implement the training program as needed.
All applications must include at least one 501(c)(3) Community-Based Organization with demonstrated experience serving a New Jersey Overburdened Community, that provides direct services or supports to a specific geographic New Jersey community(ies) or specific segments of a New Jersey community(ies).
For the purposes of this challenge, government entities, K-12 schools and institutions of higher learning do not qualify as Community-Based Organizations. However, these entities may be the primary applicant or an additional collaborator on the applicant team. Organizations looking to collaborate can submit an optional Potential Collaborator Form by Oct. 20.
To apply, click here.
EDA CEO Tim Sullivan said the potential impact of the grant challenge is huge.
“Offshore wind is driving an abundance of skilled jobs in New Jersey, and Gov. Phil Murphy is committed to ensuring the state’s workforce keeps pace with the needs of offshore wind companies investing here,” he said.
“We have a responsibility to ensure that New Jerseyans are adequately and safely trained for these good-paying opportunities. We look forward to partnering with entities with expertise and creative workforce development solutions that will advance these goals in an equitable and inclusive way.”
The Grant Challenge is part of NJEDA’s efforts to establish the New Jersey Wind Institute for Innovation and Training as an independent entity created through legislation. The Wind Institute will coordinate and deploy resources to advance offshore wind workforce development, research, and innovation in the state.
Jane Cohen, executive director of the Governor’s Office of Climate Action and the Green Economy, said the need to diversify the workforce is huge.
“As we pursue our clean energy future and increased offshore wind development goals, it’s crucial that we develop a skilled and inclusive workforce to support our growing clean energy economy,” she said. “Establishing accessible pathways for entrance into good-paying jobs with wage parity and long-term career prospects will help position all New Jerseyans to enjoy the optimal benefits of the state’s clean energy transition.”