Community Offshore Wind details $2.5M workforce development proposal

Community Offshore Wind, a joint venture between National Grid Ventures and RWE, is aiming to set new standards in workforce development with major investments in local organized labor programs included in the proposal submitted to the New Jersey Board of Utilities in early August.

The investments include $2.5 million to support workforce development and training programs, as well as a Memorandum of Understanding with the New Jersey AFL-CIO to negotiate a Labor Harmony Agreement. This MOU delivers on the promise that Community Offshore Wind will create long-term, good-paying jobs for overburdened communities in New Jersey. If Community Offshore Wind is selected by the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities, the agreement will provide a pathway for unionization for long-term, non-construction careers.

The MOU with the New Jersey AFL-CIO goes beyond traditional commitments to use union labor for the construction of the project, ensuring that future jobs in maritime, manufacturing, operations and other positions can be represented by the affiliates of the New Jersey AFL-CIO and lead to skilled union, high-paying careers for New Jerseyans.

Community Offshore Wind also executed an MOU with affiliates of the South Jersey Building Trades Councils for agreements to use union labor during the construction of the project.

“Our commitment to New Jersey goes far beyond bringing clean, renewable power to communities across the state,” Doug Perkins, president & project director of Community Offshore Wind, said. “We must seize the opportunity to create an equitable workforce, and there is no better way to ensure that the benefits of the industry are shared across the state than partnering with organized labor.

“By investing in education and training from historically underserved communities, and proactively working with New Jersey unions to prepare for the influx of new jobs the clean energy transition will bring, we’re not only preparing individuals for success, but contributing to local economic growth and the advancement of the clean energy sector.”

Alongside the MOUs executed to date, Community Offshore Wind will make ongoing, additional investments to build a diverse, skilled workforce pipeline for the clean energy industry in the region, addressing the industry’s evolving demands while creating long-term economic opportunities for workers and families across New Jersey, especially those from communities previously left behind by expanding industries.

As part of its investment, Community Offshore Wind will support IBEW Local 400’s first preapprenticeship program focused on clean energy training. The program will support a cohort of 50 individuals, prioritizing workers from overburdened communities in Ocean and Monmouth counties, to receive training and certifications that will allow them to participate in both the construction and ongoing maintenance of the infrastructure needed for offshore wind, electric vehicle charging, solar, battery storage and other clean energy technologies. For the final two weeks of the program, students will work for an electrical contractor for on-the-job experience. Upon completion, preapprentices will be considered for direct entry into the existing IBEW apprenticeship programs in Ocean and Monmouth counties.

Community Offshore Wind has also committed to help fund the expansion of LiUNA’s successful “Pathways 2 Apprenticeship” program from New York into New Jersey, providing a reentry pathway for justice-involved individuals to the organized construction trades. The preapprenticeship program allows for direct entry into skilled trades careers. Community Offshore Wind’s investment in this program will support preapprentices with financial assistance for transportation and child care.

As the Eastern Atlantic States Carpenters Technical College aims to expand its Carpenters Apprentice Ready Program to South Jersey and develop a program to meet the needs of the offshore wind industry throughout the state, Community Offshore Wind has also committed to provide funding to help connect participants with funding for personal protective equipment, supplies, child care and transportation.

“Community Offshore Wind signing an MOU prior to project selection, with a commitment to utilizing union labor over the lifetime of their project, demonstrates their dedication to New Jersey workers and families around the state,” Charles Wowkanech, president of the New Jersey AFL-CIO, said. “Taking a holistic view of workforce development by prioritizing the existing high-road pathways into organized labor means we will keep the benefits of this new industry right here in our local communities, and build the diverse, skilled workforce we will need as future projects are approved.”