Rapid Job Growth Could Help Accelerate the Country’s Transition to a Carbon-Free Power Grid
Washington, D.C. – Today, the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) published a first-of-its-kind study that examines future U.S. offshore wind workforce growth and identifies future workforce development needs. The report estimates that the offshore wind industry will need an average of between 15,000 and 58,000 full-time jobs every year from 2024 to 2030, depending on the amount of American-made content used – an increase from less than 1,000 jobs today. A strong offshore wind energy workforce will help decarbonize the U.S. power sector and is critical to reaching the Biden administration’s goals of installing 30 gigawatts of offshore wind energy capacity by 2030 and 15 gigawatts of floating offshore wind energy by 2035.
“The offshore wind energy industry could provide tens of thousands of good-quality clean energy jobs for Americans over the next decade,” said Alejandro Moreno, Acting Assistant Secretary for Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy. “With this study’s comprehensive findings, we can capitalize on this opportunity and grow a strong domestic workforce for the burgeoning offshore wind energy industry.”
Most of these new jobs would be in manufacturing, bolstering a domestic supply chain for offshore wind energy. Other jobs are likely to be added in project development, wind turbine installation (which includes ports and vessels), and ongoing operations and maintenance. To guide offshore wind workforce growth, the report estimates the specific workforce needs, skills, gaps, and opportunities for each of these areas.
The U.S. Offshore Wind Workforce Assessment identifies the following actions needed to meet the growing demand for offshore wind energy jobs:
- Attract and train skilled tradespeople, who represent the largest pool of potential offshore wind energy workers
- Standardize and create clear, accessible pathways for workers to obtain required safety and other skills training
- Help workers from similar fields, including offshore oil and gas, transition into the offshore wind energy industry
- Prioritize diversity and inclusion initiatives to attract and retain more members of underrepresented and underserved populations
- Ensure coordination and collaboration between industry stakeholders and regional partners on major workforce challenges through efforts like the DOE-sponsored Offshore Wind Workforce Network.
The number of new offshore wind jobs also depends on growth in manufacturing, supply chains, and related sectors, according to the report. Those industries will need to work with the wind energy industry to produce the components, parts, and materials to build, install, and maintain offshore wind turbines.
Based on previous work, offshore wind is also anticipated to produce tens of thousands of additional jobs in communities.
Offshore wind energy education opportunities are already growing to meet this demand. Across North America, community colleges, maritime academies, and universities offer more than 40 training programs, although more will be needed. The states with the highest number of existing offshore wind energy workforce training programs are Massachusetts (12 programs), New York (10), New Jersey (5), and Maryland (4).
The U.S. Offshore Wind Workforce Assessment was funded by DOE’s Wind Energy Technologies Office.