In San Francisco, Mayor London N. Breed, the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission (SFPUC) and its partners are celebrating the establishment of a federal grant program to fund training and career development for workers in the water and wastewater industries, according to a SFPUC news release.
“Offering career opportunities for residents from all communities is essential to addressing economic inequality and ensuring we remain a diverse and thriving city,” Mayor Breed said to SFPUC. “The water and wastewater industries offer good jobs that can provide long-term stability for workers and their families, and this grant funding will help train and develop a diverse array of prospective employees to enter into those fields.”
According to SFPUC, the grant program was championed by the SFPUC and its partner utilities in the Water Agency Leaders Alliance (WALA), the National League of Cities (NLC) and the National Association of Clean Water Agencies (NACWA), among other organizations.
The original legislation was sponsored by U.S. Senators Cory Booker and Shelley Moore Capito.
"At the SFPUC, nearly 50% of our employees are eligible to retire in the next 5-10 years," said Harlan L. Kelly, Jr., SFPUC General Manager. "We must act now to ensure that we are prepared to replenish our workforce ranks and that we do so with employees who reflect the diversity of our communities. I want to thank Senators Capito and Booker for their leadership on tackling this critical issue, and to our own Senator Kamala Harris for her support for this important legislation."
The infrastructure work is projected to generate $524 billion in economic activity and create about 300,000 job opportunities across the U.S., according to SFPUC. The program will help train workers to build and repair water systems throughout the country, while providing opportunities to careers with competitive wages and benefits.
“Cities across the country are facing a severe shortage of skilled workers to operate our nation’s water systems,” said Clarence E. Anthony, CEO and Executive Director of the National League of Cities, to SFPUC. “At the same time, there is a looming workforce challenge to build new water infrastructure systems that meet the needs of the 21st century. We are thankful to Senators Cory Booker and Shelley Moore Capito for their bipartisan leadership to help secure the inclusion of this important workforce development and training program in the final water resources bill, America’s Water Infrastructure Act. Investments such as these equip cities with the tools to develop the next generation of workers and provide clean and safe water to American communities, which is essential to driving our nation’s economy forward.”