October 27, 2022

New Report Highlights the Need for Standardised Safety Training for US Offshore Wind

Specialized safety training highlighted as a significant gap for offshore wind construction and O&M; More GWO Sea Survival training will be needed to safely deliver on the 30GW 2030 target; Companies will need to guide new technicians and rapidly deploy full-scope training for them to keep up with the hastening pace of construction activity.

Specialized safety training is a significant gap for offshore wind construction and O&M, according to the National Renewable Energy Laboratory's latest report.

NREL's landmark Offshore Wind Energy Workforce Assessment identified standardized safety training for workers who perform offshore installation and operation activities as one of the highest priority areas to address to ensure that an adequately trained workforce is available to build and maintain projects.

While key findings of potential employment vary based on local content scenario, their range is mostly in line with the Global Wind Workforce Outlook 2022-2026 recently published by Global Wind Organisation (GWO) and the Global Wind Energy Council (GWEC), and presented at WindEnergy Hamburg.

Specialized safety training is a significant gap for offshore wind construction and O&M
“The standardization of safety certifications for people working at sea to build and operate projects is required to ensure training programs meet desired industry requirements for vessel crews, port terminal crews, and O&M crews. There are no officially adopted offshore wind energy industry safety training standards in the United States, but organizations are working on aligning existing U.S. standards and training requirements with the industry and developing and certifying programs and facilities to support standards such as the Global Wind Organisation Basic Safety and Sea Survival Training. Without agreeing on the necessary safety standards, a vessel operator may be unwilling to hire a domestic crew who they feel are not appropriately trained to conduct job tasks at sea.”
More GWO sea survival training will be needed to safely deliver on the 30GW 2030 target
“Because several wind turbine models will likely be deployed on the Atlantic Coast, training programs could engage with manufacturers to ensure technicians can operate and maintain their systems and streamline training. The requirement for GWO training, including sea survival, provides a unique opportunity for existing training institutions to expand their offerings and for new training institutions and programs to be developed on or near U.S. coastlines.”
“Only a few GWO training programs offer the full suite of certifications, including sea survival, and these are currently only available on the East Coast. […] As the offshore wind market expands beyond the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic regions, additional full-suite GWO programs will be required to meet regional demand for GWO trained workers."
Companies will need to rapidly deploy training for new technicians to keep up with the hastening pace of construction activity

Demand for offshore wind technicians in the US is expected to quadruple from 1,200 in 2021 to 4,765 in 2026, mostly within the construction and installation phase of project development. Many of these technicians will be new to the industry and will need guidance. Thus, it is important to map out a clear pathway into the wind industry that recognises people’s existing skills and guides them towards the appropriate training.

GWO recently published the Entry Level Wind Turbine Technician Framework endorsed by the industry’s leading employers that describes the recommended training pathways as a career entry route into job profiles within three functional areas: pre-assembly, installation and service. The Entry Level Framework will facilitate the growth of a stable, competent entry level workforce, alleviate pressure on costs and resources, reduce bottlenecks in recruiting and training, and decrease training duplication. It will also help training providers optimize and expand their training offer to bridge the skills gap.

*Image source U.S. Offshore Wind Energy Workforce Assessment, NREL Technical Report (2022)