Aside from aging infrastructure and limited funding, the municipal water and wastewater sector currently is ill-prepared for the departure of a large segment of its workforce, which is quickly reaching retirement age and is expected to exit the field in the next decade.
According Water & Wastes Digest's 2014 State of the Industry Report, the average age of water utility workers is 56, and more than one third (38%) are 60 or older.
This depletion of experienced professionals creates an urgent need to attract both maintenance personnel and high-tech skilled workforce alike.
The challenge is that there is a lack of interest in field installation and maintenance-type work among younger people entering the workforce. Additionally, many facilities are turning to automation and implementing advanced technologies in order to meet more complex regulatory requirements. This necessitates a more skilled workforce; however, there is little awareness of the field in general, and these positions tend to be less competitive in comparison to other job sectors.
How is your utility finding ways to replace retiring maintenance personnel and attract a skilled workforce? E-mail W&WD at [email protected] to share your stories.