Jun 18, 2008

AWWA Announces Project to Address Water Workforce Challenges

Partnership with Awwa Research Foundation will support AWWA's Workforce Strategies Committee and other workforce programs

As the American Water Works Association’s (AWWA) Annual Conference and Exposition (ACE08) drew to a close, incoming President Mike Leonard announced that AWWA will partner with Awwa Research Foundation on an ambitious project to better define and address the looming challenges to water workforce sustainability.

This initiative, titled the “Water Sector Workforce Sustainability Initiative,” will support the efforts of AWWA’s existing Workforce Strategies Committee and other council and committee workforce programs.

“This project will help the entire water sector better understand the challenges ahead of us as we face reality of an aging and changing workforce,” said AWWA President Mike Leonard. “It also shows that the water sector is truly committed to putting our full energy and significant resources into addressing the workforce challenges ahead of us.”

The project’s steering committee will include members of AWWA’s newly formed Ad Hoc Committee on Water Sector Workforce Strategies and other utility leaders from North America. The Ad Hoc Committee was created to complement existing AWWA efforts and to identify funding to address sector-wide water workforce issues.

During his first address as AWWA president, Leonard cited addressing workforce concerns as among his chief priorities during his one-year term. “We need to provide our members with all the training and tools to deal with this challenge,” Leonard said during an address at the AWWA Gavel Passing Ceremony at the Omni Hotel. “And AWWA needs to take concrete steps to make jobs in the water industry more attractive in a competitive marketplace.”

The project will analyze mission-critical work classifications that are at risk, explore organizational processes that must be strengthened to address those risks and propose strategies that should be implemented at the utility, regional and national levels to achieve workforce sustainability.

The initiative will include a workshop that brings together AWWA volunteer leaders and workforce experts from other industries to review relevant research and develop a sector-wide workforce strategy.