The construction site at South Terminal on Tuesday was full of hope: Hope that the project would be completed on schedule, hope that the offshore wind industry would jump-start domestically and use the facility, hope that the 10 or so Bristol Community College students touring the facility would one day be employed there.
The students, enrolled in wind power and pre-apprenticeship certificate programs at BCC, were on site at the invitation of the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center, which owns the terminal, in order to give them a sense of the jobs they could hold once their programs are completed.
“I would love to work here,” said Norman Rebeiro II, who is in the pre-apprenticeship program. Rebeiro said his six kids were his motivation for joining the BCC program. But he said he was interested in South Terminal for another reason: “I think it’s important to have sustainability in our area and our world.”
Rebeiro was like many of the students touring the facility Tuesday who were drawn to the program not just by the need for a bigger paycheck, but also because they see clean energy, and therefore offshore wind, as an important part of the region’s economic and environmental future.
John Carlisle said he was fascinated by the first-hand view of how the terminal was being put together and hoped to work there after he completes his wind power certificate.
“This offshore wind is supposed to be a growing industry,” he said. “It’s good to get into it now so I’m ahead of the future, and also so we have something sustainable to show the next generation.”
Accompanying the group was Chris DiGregario, who had applied to the BCC pre-apprenticeship program earlier in the day. A career counselor had heard he was interested in solar panels and suggested he go on the tour to learn more about wind power instead.
“I mean, anyone can learn how to slap some lights up on a house and make them turn on,” he said. “I want to go green. If everyone became green the world would be a much better place.”
Both BCC certificate programs are free to students, sponsored by a grant from MassCEC, which has come under fire by city minority groups for not having enough local or minority hires at South Terminal.
As the students toured the facility Tuesday, students were greeted by terminal workers, some of whom were from the city, who gave the students advice on future careers.
Derrick Johnson, the labor foreman, told them how he fell in love with being a laborer after going to school for architecture.
“College isn’t for everyone, but you have to have some kind of skill,” he said. “Being a laborer is hard work, it’s grunt work, but it’s honest and it’s profitable work, too.”
Dan Clark, an apprentice with the pile drivers union, told the students how much he had learned being on the job at South Terminal and how much he appreciated the job’s larger mission.
“When this job is done, I just hope I get a chance to go work on the windmill projects,” he said. “If that offer came around I’d take it in an instant.”