Water Workforce Pathways
Freshwater's new initiative, Water Workforce Pathways, connects across public and private sectors to increase visibility and access to abundant, stable, well-paying jobs in the water industry.
Why water workforce?
Motivation for this effort comes from a range of factors in the water industry:
- Many water professionals report high levels of burnout due to understaffing.
- Historically, the water workforce lacks diversity in age, race, and gender.
- A large portion (up to one-third) of the current water workforce will reach retirement age in the next 10 years.
- People outside the water industry often lack awareness of employment opportunities.
- As an industry, we need a unified effort to improve workforce strategies.
Our multifaceted approach
Students and teachers may not be aware of water workforce careers. This initiative will develop presentations, activities and field trips designed to expose young people to water occupations.
Part of the difficulty in getting more, diverse people into the water workforce lies in the unclear pathways for getting from point A to point B. Our work includes developing charts and models to help guide entry into the field by connecting interests with different types of water careers.
Technical training is an important part of many occupations in the water workforce field. In partnership with several professional organizations and technical education programs, we are compiling a comprehensive list of programs and scholarship opportunities.
Internships and apprenticeships can be a critical step in developing interest in water workforce careers. Creating connections with existing community workforce programs and compiling opportunities to learn on the job are important aspects of our work.
To reduce barriers to apprenticeships and student programs, we are standardizing position announcements in partnership with hiring organizations and working together to ensure job postings and required qualifications are designed for inclusivity.
Evaluating employer retention practices is another key piece of this work. This includes integration of opportunities for current employees such as affinity groups, mentorship programs, and professional development. Additional resources and opportunities coming soon.
Who is involved in this effort?
Freshwater's One Water Approach works across different water entities, in partnership with professional workforce consultants, to build a resilient, sustainable water workforce.