SALEM — Two North Shore technical schools are receiving a $1.2 million grant to begin building the workforce that will, in a handful of years, build offshore wind turbines on the edge of Salem Harbor.
The Massachusetts Clean Energy Center (MassCEC) issued $18 million in grants last week to 40 organizations that “are focused on lowering barriers faced by underserved and underrepresented populations entering the clean energy workforce,” the announcement from CEC read (bit.ly/45AlLMz).
Of the full award, $1.2 million will support a three-year training program at the Essex North Shore Agricultural & Technical School in Danvers and Lynn Vocational and Technical High School, according to Mary Sarris, executive director of MassHire’s North Shore Workforce Board.
“It’s a three-year grant that will train 60 individuals through a pre-apprentice program, getting individuals ready to be apprentices in electrical, plumbing, construction laborers, welders, etc.,” said Ed O’Sullivan, the board’s director of programs and operations. “We’ll concentrate the program on the recruitment of individuals from environmental justice neighborhoods in our area.”
Salem and Lynn are expected to be heavy targets for recruitment. The grant is expected to produce careers on the North Shore, Salem Mayor Dominick Pangallo said.
“What we’re really hoping for is that the pre-apprenticeships can lead to apprenticeships and a position in a union,” Pangallo said. “The individual may not work in offshore wind, necessarily, but they have the skills necessary to go into a meaningful career and good-paying union job.”
Since mid-2021, city officials have been building up future plans for an offshore wind marshalling yard to take over the roughly 44 acres of undeveloped land around the Salem Harbor Footprint power plant. As plans and financing for the project have come together, conversations have also played out at area schools focusing on developing programs to serve future workforce training needs.
An “Offshore Wind Economic Diversification Study” was completed for MassHire North Shore and the city last March (bit.ly/3EGa0sd). It led officials to one critical need, according to Pangallo: “This recognition that in the offshore wind industry, there’s a lot of union labor — and there should be a heavy focus on the pre-apprenticeship programs.
“The pre-apprenticeship training is basically preparing workers with what they need to succeed in the union’s apprenticeship program,” he said. “MassHire will work with Salem High School, Lynn Tech, and the Essex North Shore Agricultural and Technical School to get this program in place for hopefully early 2024.”
The money will also go toward hiring “an outreach worker to connect people in the environmental justice communities with those opportunities,” Pangallo said. That includes further support for transportation, child care, and more.
As that all plays out, schools in Salem are also seeing a surge in demand for career technical education, with two-thirds of Salem High students enrolled in CTE courses. The district is now working to introduce CTE to Salem’s middle school students, Pangallo said.
“While everybody should have the opportunity to go to college, not every student’s path into a successful future goes through higher education,” he said. “CTE is extremely popular, and this grant is supporting our ongoing work to tailor our CTE opportunities for those students to the enter the economy of the future. We’re grateful to MassCEC and the Healey-Driscoll administration for their support of these initiatives.”
Contact Dustin Luca at 978-338-2523 or DLuca@salemnews.com. Follow him at facebook.com/dustinluca or on Twitter @DustinLucaSN.