NOWI: Powering the Offshore Wind Workforce with Cutting-Edge Training

The National Offshore Wind Institute (NOWI) is a groundbreaking facility established by Bristol Community College to serve as a one-stop shop for health and safety and skill development training in the offshore wind industry and related sectors. Strategically situated along the working waterfront of New Bedford, the NOWI is a state-of-the-art facility equipped with cutting-edge technology and equipment designed to meet the growing workforce demands of the offshore wind sector. The NOWI will provide a comprehensive training portfolio, virtual reality programs, private space for related trainings and other services and offerings.

The NOWI works closely with industry and has built key strategic partnerships to ensure that the training programs meet the ever-changing needs of this emerging industry. By seamlessly integrating the physical facilities typical of the wind turbine environment with those onsite at the NOWI – along with simulators and virtual reality technology – participants receive training that mirrors the actual working conditions of careers in this sector. From vertical fall arrest systems to turbine-specific ladders, participants not only grasp theoretical aspects but also gain hands-on experience in using equipment safely and efficiently within emergency response scenarios.

The NOWI currently has Global Wind Organisation (GWO) certification for Basic Safety Training (BST), Advanced Rescue Training and Enhanced First Aid, and it will achieve certification for Basic Technical Training and Slinger Signaler training modules by Spring 2024.

Strategic Partnerships for Comprehensive Training

The NOWI has forged a critical partnership with Maersk Training, a globally recognized training provider with more than 40 years of experience in the field. This collaboration provides the NOWI with experienced support for program development, program certification, asset and staffing management and certification, and other critical parts of a workforce training facility. The NOWI is supported by Maersk to offer GWO certifications and to expand to other training programs such as Helicopter Underwater Escape Training or HUET.

NOWI safety trainer on ladder

Height Safety and Emergency Response Focus

The offshore wind industry requires a workforce that has health and safety training to minimize the risk of injury. The NOWI provides these skills through its GWO BST that encompasses the essential Working at Height and Fire Awareness modules. The NOWI trainers guide participants in learning to use personal fall protective equipment, lanyards and harnesses, and they acquire competencies necessary for safe work in at-sea offshore wind environments. Within the GWO Fire Awareness module, instructors teach participants how to assess emergency situations, use fire extinguishing equipment and successfully evacuate smoke-filled environments with proper safety protocols.

The NOWI’s strategic planning blends its industry partnerships and input with Maersk Training guidance to stand at the forefront of offshore wind industry training. Dedicated to responding to the needs of the industry with high-quality training, the NOWI is at the forefront of preparing the U.S. workforce for the evolving opportunities presented by this nascent offshore wind energy sector.


Strategic Partnerships & Adaptable Training Programs

The NOWI is not just preparing for today but is actively shaping a safer and more resilient workforce for the years ahead.

For example, the evolving landscape of transportation to the offshore wind project requirements has transitioned from the usage of boats and crew transfer vessels to helicopters. This change has resulted in a new training requirement for the offshore wind workforce, Helicopter Underwater Escape Training (HUET), which is required for all individuals transported by helicopter.

The NOWI has reprioritized its strategic planning to develop and adopt HUET into its training portfolio. This portfolio expansion will require Maersk Training to support a comprehensive train-the-trainer program, curriculum, trainer certification and equipment.

The NOWI’s foresight through its partnerships, as well as its close collaboration with industry, positions it as a leader in providing relevant and required training solutions for businesses and individuals navigating this new and changing sector.

Advancing Clean Energy in Massachusetts' Urban Centers

The NOWI has been honored by MassINC’s Gateway Cities Innovation Institute for its outstanding contributions to advancing clean energy in Massachusetts’ regional urban centers. Recognized as one of six cutting-edge initiatives making a significant impact, the NOWI stands out for its commitment to a sustainable energy future.

MassINC’s mission is to make Massachusetts a place of civic vitality and inclusive economic opportunity while the Gateway Cities Innovation Institute works to unlock economic potential in small and midsize regional cities.

The NOWI’s recognition affirms its importance in the larger narrative of regional urban development and economic revitalization, emphasizing collaborative efforts toward a greener and more prosperous Massachusetts.

Vineyard Wind Exhibit Anchors at New Bedford Campus

Bristol’s New Bedford Campus is proudly hosting the groundbreaking Vineyard Wind education exhibit, offering the public a free exploration into the nation’s inaugural utility-scale offshore wind project.

Vineyard Wind is actively constructing the country’s premier utility-scale offshore wind energy initiative, strategically positioned 15 miles off the Massachusetts coastline. This revolutionary venture is poised to supply clean, sustainable, cost-effective energy to more than 400,000 residences and enterprises throughout the Commonwealth, while significantly reducing carbon emissions by a staggering 1.6 million tons annually.

Positioned at the forefront of the offshore wind sector’s expansion on New Bedford’s Waterfront, Bristol’s NOWI is set to play a pivotal role in creating a regional workforce and supporting local infrastructure for the burgeoning offshore wind industry.

In addition to workforce training at the NOWI, the college offers an Associate in Science in engineering technology (offshore wind power) along with two certificate programs specializing in offshore wind power technician and offshore wind power technology.