SALEM — Demand for career technical education is surging, and that demand is being met by a similarly growing group of partners. A major one just joined the fold, one who needs jobs filled to build wind turbines.
City officials and several partners to the school district met for a tour of Salem High’s CTE spaces on Thursday, an event celebrating a new partnership between Salem High and Crowley Wind Services. Crowley makes up part of the Salem Harbor Wind Terminal team, which includes city officials and AVANGRID as owners of the site as it’s redeveloped for offshore wind turbine construction.
Salem High and Crowley recently signed a memorandum of agreement that establishes the ways Crowley will provide learning opportunities for Salem High School students, both through advisory roles when building out future programs and work opportunities for interns and graduates moving through the building. But it’s also a two-way street, as Salem High must develop a program to train students to work for Crowley.
“It’s really important for Crowley to be as involved in the community as possible,” said John Berry, director of terminal operations for Crowley. “The school has a marine technician program, so we’re trying to talk about all those things. We hope this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship.”
It’s one friendship of many forming at Salem High to address a surging demand for career tech education. The event, though centered around Crowley in the end, focused on the role that community organizations and partners play in boosting Salem’s CTE game and equipping students with the best tools for the jobs they’ll compete for tomorrow.
“This is a really big deal. Our CTE program is the backbone of our school,” said Glenn Burns, Salem High’s principal, to open the event. “There’s over 600 kids — out of 900 — involved in our CTE program, and it isn’t something we can just do on our own.”
The tour ended in Salem High School’s auto repair garage, one of several spaces at SHS reserved for a CTE option that’s surging in popularity. Several vehicles were either in the air or on the ground in various stages of repair. One was covered in Salem police logos and hardware.
“The goal of this program is to open it up to the public,” said Mario Sousa, Salem High’s CTE director. “Because of our scheduling blocks and how many students we have at one time, it’s a little difficult to take community vehicles on a daily basis. But we work with the city and service their vehicles. More than likely, very often, every day, there’s a police vehicle here that we’re working on.”
In another section of the building, early education support is improving through a partnership with Angela’s Preschool and Daycare.
“Angela’s Daycare is a community partner and advisory board member, coming back here to open her daycare,” Souza said. “We’re planning to make this her flagship location. We’ll have three classrooms dedicated to them.”
The Crowley deal runs from March 1, 2023 to Feb. 28, 2025 — just in time for construction of the terminal to finish and turbine work to begin. The partnership is covered by a Career Technical Initiative grant, which expires in 2025 and dictates the timing on the deal, according to Sousa. An option to renew both the grant and partnership exists beyond that point.
Per the deal as currently written, anyone working with Crowley would need to be at least 18 years old. Salem High would need to “help recruit individuals who are a good fit for the program” and provide “career readiness training” for all students entering it. It would also require that Salem High “provide teachers with space and equipment for teaching occupational skills.”
For all that, Crowley will “provide work experience with job shadowing opportunities as available” and work directly with school officials to “design a program that will meet their workforce needs and lead to job placements and advancements.” It will also “interview four to six graduates within two weeks of program graduation for open positions as Marine Service Technicians and/or other construction-related fields. Crowley agrees to hire as many qualified graduates that meet their needs as they can once the port comes online.”
Walking into the automotive shop during the tour, Sousa pointed off toward the south-facing side of the garage, where a boat and trailer with a half-dozen or so boat engines could be seen. The gear was part of a now forming marine tech pathway that will benefit Crowley once fully running.
“There’s dire need for these technicals,” he said of both automotive and marine technology. “What better way to connect marine technicians with Crowley? … Our kids don’t know the rich maritime history we have, so we’re making those connections now and are really energized about this program taking off.”
That thought was shared by Berry as he left the tour alongside Em Glavan, Crowley’s workforce development advisor.
“I’m really impressed, really impressed and really excited about what this relationship can grow between Crowley Wind Services and Salem High School,” he said. “I’m looking forward to the future.”