Water and Wastewater Systems Operations Specialists are vital to communities for access to clean drinking water and to ensure wastewater effluent is returned to the environment properly. Over the next decade, the water sector is expected to lose between 30 and 50 percent of the workforce to retirement. Many of these employees have worked at the same utility for the majority of their careers, and they will depart with decades of valuable institutional knowledge.
A vast majority of rural and small community water systems have been unable to attract, train and retain the next generation workforce.
An apprenticeship is a formal, on-the-job training program that typically has five components:
1. Employer involvement
2. On-the-job training
3. Related instruction
4. Paid work experience
5. Award of a nationally recognized industry credential
Apprenticeship offers many benefits to both future operators and utilities. The apprentice receives full-time employment from an established system that offers on-the-job learning. The apprentice learns about the water system that employs them, picking up critical knowledge about system assets.
The apprentice also gets the chance to learn from a mentor, an operator already licensed and with experience in the field. The mentor can offer helpful information on how to advance in the industry. Apprentices receive technical instruction in addition to their on-the-job learning. This instruction helps strengthen and round out the knowledge base of the apprentice, making them a more valuable employee.
Individuals interested in a career in the drinking water industry are encouraged to contact the ND Rural Water Systems Association or apply for the program at:
Workforce Development Specialist: Bailey Elkins