The Community College of Rhode Island announced plans this week to open the state’s first-ever training program for workers seeking construction jobs in the offshore wind industry.

CCRI President Meghan Hughes said workers will do much of their coursework in the Lincoln campus’s athletic facility, using the pool to learn how to survive in icy offshore waters, and repelling down the building’s exterior to simulate scaling an offshore wind turbine.

“Simply put, it is our job to be the workforce training engine that powers the offshore wind industry,” Hughes said at a press conference announcing the new program on Wednesday.

CCRI administrators say the certification program is expected to take workers about 50 hours to complete. Workers graduating from the program would receive a safety certification aligned with standards set by the Global Wind Organization.

Currently only a handful of American colleges, including the nearby Massachusetts Maritime Academy, are authorized to provide a GWO certificate, which is expected to be a requirement for landing construction and maintenance jobs on many offshore wind job sites.

In past years, CCRI administrators said students in Rhode Island had traveled as far as England, where the offshore wind industry took hold decades earlier, to receive their GWO certificates.

“GWO training is not only important,” said R.I. Department of Labor & Training Director Matthew Weldon, it’s also a requirement to get hired.

“Until now, we didn’t have a presence in Rhode Island to offer that certification,” Weldon said at Wednesday’s press conference.

CCRI administrators said the college is aiming to make the program free for Rhode Islanders, with the help of a $1 million donation from Eversource and Ørsted, the companies developing Rhode Island’s first utility-scale offshore wind farm.

Their joint project, Revolution Wind, already has contracts with utility providers in Rhode Island and Connecticut to provide a total of 704 megawatts of electricity to the two states, enough to power about 350,000 homes.

Revolution Wind is one of numerous offshore wind farms awaiting federal construction permits in a stretch of ocean about a dozen miles south of Martha’s Vineyard. The wind farms are a cornerstone of Rhode Island’s strategy to achieve one of the U.S.’s most ambitious climate goals: completing a full transition to renewable energy sources before 2033.

The offshore wind industry has the potential to create thousands of high-paying construction jobs during that time.

Several government officials said on Wednesday that CCRI’s new certification program will make it easier for communities historically excluded from the building trades to gain a foothold in the nascent industry.

“Marginalized communities need intentional investment to get an opportunity to get these jobs,” Weldon said. “And that’s what this money is going to help us do.”

“This partnership with CCRI is going to ensure that every community in the state of Rhode Island has access to good paying jobs,” Lt. Gov. Sabina Matos said.

Applications to enter the certification program open this winter, and construction jobs may be available as soon as next year.

Hughes, the CCRI president, said she expects the program to train about 150 workers before next summer.

Ben Berke is the South Coast Bureau Reporter for The Public’s Radio. He can be reached at Follow him on Twitter @BenBerke6.