Matthew Aracich, President of Building and Construction Trades Council of...

Matthew Aracich, President of Building and Construction Trades Council of Nassau and Suffolk, speaks during a a Long Island Association meeting in Melville on Tuesday. Credit: James Carbone

Long Island education officials plan to award roughly $8.1 million in funding to grow the region’s workforce pipeline for careers in the state’s emerging offshore wind industry.

In the coming weeks, officials with the Offshore Wind Training Institute will be sending out requests seeking proposals from SUNY colleges across the state. The schools are encouraged to partner with other colleges, businesses, and non-profits who can help New York meet the training needs of the new offshore energy industry on Long Island. 

“We have approximately $8 million to invest in workforce education and training over the next two to three years,” said John S. Nader, president of Farmingdale State College.

“We are hoping to prepare people for a variety of positions in a variety of places along the offshore wind supply chain,” he said.

He did not give a specific date for when the RFPs would be sent out but said they would go out sometime in the coming weeks. 

The OWTI was launched last year through a partnership between the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) and the State University of New York (SUNY). The organization’s stated goal is to train 2,500 workers using $20 million in state funding. 

Nader, along with Patricia Malone, associate vice president for professional education at Stony Brook University, spoke during an open discussion Tuesday on workforce development hosted by the Long Island Association’s Offshore Wind Committee.

He added that the goal of the requests is to have around "40% of the programs and 40% of the people enrolled in them coming from underrepresented minority backgrounds," as well as veterans and displaced workers from other industries.

Part of that will be ensuring that the region not only trains existing workers with skills applicable to offshore wind work, but creating long-standing workforce pipelines that start as early as elementary and middle school.

“If we’re not planting the seeds, if we’re not developing a pipeline of citizens, individuals and communities that think there’s opportunity and equity in this area…then we’re missing the boat,” Malone said.

The discussion was moderated by Robert Catell, chairman of the Stony Brook University Advanced Energy and Research Technology Center and chair of the LIA committee. 

Other speakers at the Tuesday meeting were represntatives from organized labor, who spoke about the importance of ensuring that the future offshore wind workforce be unionized and provided rigorous safety training. 

“We’re not just creating jobs, we’re creating careers,” said Matty Aracich, president of the Building Trades and Construction Council of Nassau and Suffolk. “We’re creating careers for an entire generation and beyond. Something that hasn’t been on Long Island since the space race.”

Aracich also serves as president and one of the three directors of the National Offshore Wind Training Center Inc. 

The center, which will provide offshore wind safety training and certifications, is funded through a $10 million grant from offshore wind developers Orsted and Eversource and their Sunrise Wind project. 

The center is currently in the process of securing a parcel of land in Brentwood to build an official headquarters. 

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