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Water infrastructure: A pipeline of job opportunities
Caroline Corona   on Thursday, July 5, 2018 at 12:00:00 am

We’ve heard it plenty of times—America’s infrastructure is crumbling. But out of the rubble comes great opportunity for U.S. workers. The need for investment in infrastructure construction, design, management, and operation is at an all-time high, especially in aging water systems.

According to a recent Brookings report, 1.7 million workers across 212 occupations worked in the water industry in 2016. These workers spanned all geographic regions—from urban to rural and from coast to coast. Water occupation wages exceed the national average, and they require less formal education than other industries. Plus, many skills are transferable to jobs in other fields. Water is necessary to every local and state economy, and forward-thinking leaders are investing in training and removing barriers to employment in water industries.

The Brookings report outlines a “water workforce playbook” based on site visits to California’s Bay Area; Louisville, Kentucky; and Camden, New Jersey. It calls for the following policy actions:

  1. Utilities and other water employers need to empower staff, adjust existing procedures, and pilot new efforts in support of the water workforce.

  2. A broad range of employers and community partners need to hold consistent dialogues, pool resources, and develop platforms focused on water workers.

  3. National and state leaders need to provide clearer technical guidance, more robust programmatic support, and targeted investments in water workforce development.

Watch the Brookings panel on this topic here, and access the full report here (PDF).


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