N. KINGSTOWN, RI - Governor Gina M. Raimondo met with local business leaders and educators who are working together to build the state's first Career Pathways program to prepare middle and high school students for jobs in Rhode Island's growing offshore wind industry. Beginning this fall at Rocky Hill School and North Kingstown High School, the WindWinRI program will pilot activities designed to increase exposure to careers in wind energy and support students in earning industry-endorsed credentials.
"We need to prepared today's students for tomorrow's jobs. We're building a green economy in Rhode Island, and I'm committed to ensuring that the good offshore wind jobs are filled by Rhode Islanders," said Governor Gina Raimondo. "This program is an innovative platform that will get young people thinking about all of the possibilities the wind industry has to offer, and it will help ensure that companies have a pipeline of talent for years to come in Rhode Island."
In response to a rapidly expanding wind energy technology industry in Rhode Island, this partnership is focused on the development of a career pathways training program that can supply skilled workers to satisfy future demand. The lead agency, the North Kingstown Chamber of Commerce, along with its strategic partners, is working with multiple education entities across the state to utilize and augment existing training programs to fit the needs of this budding industry.
"An increasing demand for wind power is fueling an economic engine supporting the growth of off-shore wind energy jobs -- for every commercial scale offshore wind project, 1,000 supply chain jobs are created," said Kristin Urbach, Executive Director of the North Kingstown Chamber of Commerce. "If we are to meet the demands of the sector, our workforce must be empowered with the skillset required by this fast-emerging industry, and career interest must be cultivated among our middle and high school students to fill any gap left by an aging workforce."
"Real Jobs Rhode Island is investing in workforce solutions that meet the unique needs of Rhode Island's fastest-growing sectors," said Alyssa Alvarado, Real Jobs Rhode Island Program Director at the RI Department of Labor and Training. "Whether it is training Rhode Islanders for jobs that are immediately available, or preparing the future generation of workers, we are committed to meeting the talent needs of our state's employers."
Rhode Island is home to the nation's only offshore wind farm. Earlier this year, the Raimondo administration selected Deepwater Wind to construct a new 400 megawatt offshore wind farm that will produce enough energy to power roughly half the households in Rhode Island. Construction of the new wind farm will create more than 800 direct construction jobs and hundreds more indirect jobs. Additionally, Governor Raimondo recently announced plans to position Rhode Island to be a hub for the offshore wind supply chain.
Today there are 15,866 clean energy jobs in Rhode Island -- a 72 percent increase since 2014. Early in her term, the Governor set goals to double the number of green jobs in Rhode Island by 2020 and make the state's energy sources 10 times cleaner. The state is on track to hit both of those ambitious goals.
Today's visit to North Kingstown comes on the same day that the U.S. Labor Department released Rhode Island's monthly jobs report which showed the state added 1,200 jobs last month and set another record. The state's unemployment rate fell to 4.1 percent in July, the lowest unemployment rate since 2000.