By Steven Froias
For the New Bedford Ocean Cluster
The enormous economic advantage the Port of New Bedford conveys on the City of New Bedford as well as the entire Southeastern Massachusetts region doesn’t just happen by accident.
In addition to being blessed with a stunning harbor thanks to geography, investment is key to seizing opportunity. And, no greater investment can be made in securing the future by devoting resources toward education.
Ultimately, a successful port is defined by its people. The persons who manage its affairs, navigate its waters, work on its docks and keep it all afloat – literally – every day and in every way.
Now, with the onset of a real offshore wind energy industry launching from these shores, real investments are being made in preparing the workforce of tomorrow for all manner of maritime industry.
Both New Bedford High School and Greater New Bedford Regional Vocational Technical High School are offering an expanded marine industry-based curriculum to students. That’s not only significant and important for the students, but good for the continued growth of the entire region.
GNB Voke dives deep
Greater New Bedford Regional Voc-Tech High School recently announced that it has created a new opportunity for students to prepare for a high-skilled, high-paying career in marine technology. (And eventually aviation – but let’s stay on the waves here.)
They write that the “new program will prepare students to pursue a variety of career paths in the marine industry, such as marine mechanic, underwater welder, or boat captain.”
And, the school particularly notes that “with offshore wind coming into the area, this program has the potential to introduce students to a new industry” which very few people in America have been trained for.
Like all the career majors offered at GNB Voc-Tech, the curriculum will be delivered using a multimodal approach, they note, which includes both hands-on learning and classroom theory instruction.
“With the Massachusetts Marine Trades Affiliation predicting 3,000 job openings within the New Bedford area over the next few years, this program can not only be useful for graduating students but also vital to the community.”
The New Bedford Ocean Cluster couldn’t agree more. Learn more about #GNBVTmarine on the school’s website here.
New Whalers Wanted at NB High School
Meanwhile, over at New Bedford High School, the Baker-Polito Administration announced last week that the school will also benefit from renewed attention on the vital importance of investment in marine-based industry education.
Indeed, the school was awarded a $250,000 Skills Capital Grant to establish a Marine Manufacturing Training laboratory to prepare students for careers in marine and maritime industries. “The laboratory will be outfitted with welding training equipment, virtual welding and carpentry training equipment,” according to a press release for the program.
The release continues, “At a critical time in our Commonwealth, these Skills Capital Grants will increase flexibility and support for schools and educational institutions to launch new programs and help more students develop important technical skills and prepare them for high-demand industries,” states Governor Charlie Baker. “As our economy moves forward, it will be crucial for young people to develop the important technical skills that local employers need to grow their businesses.”
In New Bedford, moving forward fundamentally means doubling down on its historic connection to its port and the many opportunities that relationship enables.
The Skills Capital Grants are awarded by Governor Baker’s Workforce Skills Cabinet, which was created in 2015 to bring together the Secretariats of Education, Labor and Workforce Development, and Housing and Economic Development to align education, economic development and workforce policies in order to strategize around how to meet employers’ demand for skilled workers in every region of the Commonwealth.
That’s not unlike the mission of the New Bedford Ocean Cluster itself, which seeks to bring together the many maritime elements that constitute the city and region’s robust ocean-based economy – including commercial fishing, offshore wind, aquaculture and blue technology.
Rowing in the same direction
It bodes well that these significant investments in education are being made at this time. Both the Port of New Bedford and the New Bedford Ocean Cluster have the wind at their back during this time of transition in the country.
As we steer toward tomorrow, and realize the promise of offshore wind energy and so much more on the horizon, it’s more important than ever to make the grade for students in the region. These two programs get high marks for doing just that.
And a stronger New Bedford Ocean Cluster will be the result.
- If you’d like to receive more information about your marine organization, business or service becoming a part of the New Bedford Ocean Cluster, please visit NewBedfordOceanCluster.org