According to a recent study by the American Water Works
Association Research Foundation, there is a workforce crisis brewing in the
utility industry caused by impending retirements and shifting demographics,
increasing diversity, and a declining number of science and technical
The water sector is facing the baby boomer exodus sooner
than the general population. The study
notes that utilities will feel the impact of these retirements most severely in
areas requiring technical skills and knowledge such as engineering and
operations. And, the industry is
competing with many other career choices — some that are more glamorous and
lucrative, and in general, more appreciated by the public.
TAWWA established the Workforce Strategies Committee to try
to find solutions to these issues in Texas. The Committee draws its members from the Texas Section AWWA and WEAT. Anyone with an interest in workforce issues may
volunteer — the Committee is currently seeking members from south Texas, the
Valley, the Permian Basin, far West Texas, and the Panhandle. The Committee typically holds a telephone
conference once a month and meets each year at Texas Water.
High School Programs
Of particular interest to the Committee is the creation of
high school water education programs. Irving, Arlington, and Waco water utilities have all worked with their
local school districts to create education programs. Though all programs are not identical, the
end result is that high school seniors can test for their entry level operator
license. Once the license is obtained,
the students may serve in internship positions or be hired by the utility. San Antonio is currently working on
establishing a high school program and Committee members will approach the
Cities of Bryan and College Station this year about establishing programs
Another very important Committee initiative is recruiting
and hiring veterans into our industry. Some of our activities have included working with TCEQ on accepting
military experience to meet licensing requirements, being involved in
scheduling webinars to educate the Department of Veterans’ Affairs on the water
industry, and scheduling Veterans Service Representatives to speak at Texas
Water and ACE regarding veterans’ OJT programs that utilities may use to
hire. In the coming months, our
Committee will be working with the Texas Veterans’ Commission and the Texas
Workforce Commission to plan a career/job fair specifically for the water
industry. Our aim is to connect veterans
with utilities that need their skill sets.
Committee members also respond to requests from schools for participation in career day activities or to make other special presentations.
Learn more about Our Water Legacy and the importance and value of the working in water community in this video.
For more information, contact Magda Alanis at 832-395-2715 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
joined the group Committees: Workforce
Posted Wednesday, August 14, 2013