With the water sector workforce aging, water utilities and government agencies will explore how to bring veterans into the water workforce during the American Water Works Assn.’s (AWWA) Annual Conference and Exposition (ACE12), June 10-14, in Dallas.
Veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars are seen as excellent candidates to fill mission critical jobs at water utilities. The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) and the Texas Veterans Commission will be present in the Dallas Convention Center lobby and during a technical session to help water utilities learn what veterans can bring to the water sector.
“We want all water professionals to be aware of veterans as a valuable labor pool and to learn how to access this important resource,” said Katie McCain, chair of the AWWA Veterans’ Workforce Initiative Subcommittee and a past president of the association.
A technical session on Tuesday afternoon, “Workforce Development: How to Access and Develop New Labor Pools,” will feature a panel discussion titled, “Building the Bridge between Veterans and Water Utilities Seeking Leadership Candidates.” Members of the panel will include representatives from AWWA, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the VA, the Texas Veterans Commission and water professionals who are veterans. They will discuss why water employers should seek out veterans, the various programs to assist veterans and employers and how to navigate the bureaucracies that are involved with veterans’ career placement.
Workforce concerns continue to bubble up among the top issues in AWWA’s 2012 "State of the Water Industry" report, which will be released in the June 2012 Journal American Water Works Assn. As outlined in the Water Research Foundation’s 2010 "Water Sector Workforce Sustainability Initiative" report, with the anticipated retirements of the baby boomers the water sector expects to lose 30 to 50% of its experienced workforce within the next 10 years.
Working with the VA and the Texas Veterans Commission, AWWA is also providing opportunities for veterans to meet with water professionals during the conference.