Mt. Hope Bridge is stage for ropes training program

By Kristen Ray
Posted 8/15/19

As motorists passed by on the road up above and boats sailed through in the water down below, a small crew of men were busy at work alongside the Mt. Hope Bridge on Tuesday, Aug. 13, their bodies …

This item is available in full to subscribers.

Please log in to continue

Log in

Not a subscriber?


Start a Subscription

Sign up to start a subscription today! Click here to see your options.

Purchase a day pass

Purchase 24 hours of website access for $2. Click here to continue

Day pass subscribers

Are you a day pass subscriber who needs to log in? Click here to continue.


Mt. Hope Bridge is stage for ropes training program

Posted

As motorists passed by on the road up above and boats sailed through in the water down below, a small crew of men were busy at work alongside the Mt. Hope Bridge on Tuesday, Aug. 13, their bodies suspended in air.

By trade, they are blade technicians, employed by the European turbine maintenance company GEV Wind Power. On that rainy morning, however, their role was much broader, as they served to represent how becoming certified through the Society of Professional Rope Access Technicians (SPRAT) can lead to dynamic possibilities in the offshore wind industry and beyond.

Since 2016, career opportunities in the offshore wind industry have been booming, with the Bureau of Labor Statistics projecting a 96 percent growth rate for wind turbine service technicians by 2026. GEV alone intends to make roughly 125 new positions available as they open their new Rhode Island headquarters — welcome news as the state pushes to expand its fully functioning wind turbines from five up to 50.

“That means good jobs today, and for years into the future,” said General Treasurer Seth Magaziner.

A critical component of that, however, is making sure that the talent is readily there — something the North Kingstown Chamber of Commerce’s WindWinRI program is already starting to address, thanks to a grant they provided in collaboration with Real Jobs RI. Beginning Aug. 12, KONG USA in Bristol — an Italian manufacturer making climbing, safety and rescue equipment — will be hosting two one-week-long SPRAT training courses, helping 16 people become workforce ready.

It is not only the offshore wind industry that will reap the benefits from SPRAT training courses (the only one available of its kind in the region), however; it can apply to a number of different pathways, including painting and bridge inspection. Some certificate holders have even been hired by the Rhode Island Turnpike and Bridge Authority as they work to maintain the state’s bridges — two of which, the Mt. Hope and Newport Pell — are turning 90 and 50, respectively, this year.

“These are transferrable skills,” said KONG Business Development Manager Nate Bergenholtz.

As the nation celebrates American Wind Energy Week, however, Mr. Bergenholtz recognized just how crucial the local collaborations — which also included for Tuesday’s demonstration contributions of rope from Fall River’s New England/Tuefelberger Rope and life jackets from Tiverton’s Life Raft Survival Equipment — will be in order for the Ocean State to emerge as leaders in the offshore wind energy industry. Agreed senior vice president of the American Wind Energy Association, Amy Farrell:

“There’s really no better place to show off this opportunity than here in Rhode Island, the home of America’s first offshore wind farm.”

2020 by East Bay Newspapers

Barrington · Bristol · East Providence · Little Compton · Portsmouth · Tiverton · Warren · Westport
Meet our staff
Scott Pickering

Scott Pickering has been on the East Bay Newspapers team for more than two decades, since starting as a reporter for the Sakonnet Times. He's been editor of most of the papers, was Managing Editor of all the papers for many years, and became General Manager in 2012. Today he can be found posting to EastBayRI.com, steering news coverage, writing editorials, talking to readers, working with the sales team, collaborating on design, or helping do whatever it takes to get the papers out the door. Reach him at spickering@eastbaynewspapers.com.