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The construction industry is always evolving. One of the most recent evolutions is the rise of the offshore wind sector, especially in the northeastern United States. The U.S. Department of Energy’s Offshore Wind Market Report notes that American offshore wind power generation increased by 24% in 2020.

That growth isn’t likely to slow down, either. The Biden administration recently announced an ambitious initiative for offshore wind: 30 gigawatts by 2030. Further, global cumulative offshore capacity is projected to increase seven-fold by 2030. So, what does this mean for employment? It means major opportunities. There is massive hiring on the horizon for individuals with the right experience and skills. In fact, there may be upward of 3 million new wind power jobs created over the next five years, according to the Global Wind Energy Council.

These are high-paying jobs, too: A construction worker on an offshore wind project can earn more than $130,000 annually, notes the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, which is nearly four times the median American income. The Biden administration is placing a priority on equity, with 20% of jobs for people of color and 10% for women.

As this lucrative industry continues to grow, here are four things construction executives should keep in mind.

1. Know the necessary qualifications

Joining the offshore wind workforce requires specific talents and qualifications. Sectors of the industry require background and expertise in everything from science, manufacturing, engineering and construction to business and economics. There are also specialized training regimens for key skills, like mastering the electrical components of the wind turbine and ensuring structures are resilient. Knowledge of strategies to protect the health and safety of workers is also a top priority.

The need for specific degrees can vary. For employees seeking work in the construction and manufacturing sectors, post-secondary education often isn’t required and there are ample vocational pathways and apprenticeships. Meanwhile, other jobs, such as project engineers, oceanographers, biologists, project economists and investment analysts frequently require a graduate degree. Employers can help individuals on both paths by incentivizing apprenticeships and degree programs.

2. Dispel the myths

Since the offshore wind industry is a relatively new one, it’s no surprise that there are several myths and misconceptions. First, there’s a myth that all offshore wind jobs require post-graduate degrees—but, as noted above, that’s simply not true. There’s also a misconception that it’s a difficult industry to break into. In truth, a career in offshore wind is quite accessible. Many workers have smoothly transitioned from careers in the oil and gas industry, with just the help of some additional safety/technical training. Further, offshore wind programs are launching in many major cities on the East Coast. The New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) has created an Offshore Wind Youth Action Program, and programs are available at marquee-name schools like the University of Massachusetts, University of Delaware and State University of New York schools.

3. Be aware of the challenges

While the offshore wind industry brings several opportunities, there are also challenges. Since it’s an emerging industry, it can be difficult to convince workers to undertake apprenticeships or degree programs in something that seems so “new.” Instead, some will gravitate toward more established industries, like oil, gas or solar.

4. Build pipelines

To truly capitalize on these opportunities, construction executives and their firms should be building pipelines that empower employees and fuel industry growth. Executives should engage with universities that have relevant degree programs and build vocational partnerships with local high schools and vocational schools. Firms should also prioritize talent acquisition, creating smooth hiring processes and investing in top-notch recruitment.

The offshore wind industry is growing swiftly, and construction firms should take advantage of the growth. With a robust knowledge of the playing field and the right strategy and tactics, contractors can help ensure their firms are prepared to capitalize on this emerging industry.


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