Throughout the water sector, water professionals are mulling over the same questions-- how do we attract new talent and diversify our teams? How will we replenish our ranks after the retirement boom hits? As you’re reading this, someone is probably pondering these very questions and others. But what if the answer to those questions, or the inspiration for the next big idea was in a 280-character message splayed across your screen?
That's what we aimed to do during the WEF Twitter Chat on Workforce. We posed questions about some of the most pressing workforce development topics and dozens of water professionals shared their experiences, insights and ideas.
From shortages in skilled trade workers to training staff in the digital ages, individual organizations are facing myriad workforce challenges. However, recruiting workers to the water sector is a major priority, as Tanya McCoy-Caretti, a national client director at Arcadis mentioned:
A1: Recruiting and retaining staff, diversity and inclusion - and sometimes just being exciting enough for candidates to truly believe they can have a profoundly positive impact on the world 🌎 by working in water 💦 #wefworkforcechat— Tanya McCoy-Caretti (@TanyaMcCaretti) August 1, 2019
Additionally, the water sector is facing a wave of retirements and needs workers with diverse skill sets to fill the 220,000 job openings projected each year until 2026. It’s a phenomenon that will affect every function of the industry, and during the chat, we learned it’s an issue our Georgia MA has prioritized:
@h2opportunityga is focused on finding the next generation of water professionals. It's the outreach and recruitment arm of the Georgia Association of Water Professionals. Pending retirements, lack of visibility and employees leaving the industry are our focus. #wefworkforcechat— Donnell Duncan (@donnellduncan) July 31, 2019
A common theme of the chat was the importance of collaboration. Working together to solve problems, develop solutions and provide support strengthens the sector as a whole. Joe Kane, an author of The Brookings Institute’s report on the water sector workforce, chimed in with this advice for building partnerships:
A5. Simply getting folks around the same table--particularly workforce orgs, schools, and employers--can help build greater regional capacity: https://t.co/p5WqtVMQM8 Thanks to @WEForg @ifetayovenner and others for the chat— Joe Kane (@jwkane1) July 31, 2019
From recruitment strategies to success stories, the #wefworkforcechat hashtag was filled with examples of what the water sector is doing to advance workforce development goals. For a little over an hour, we exchanged thoughts, described real-life situations and even sparked ideas for new solutions.
king County WTD is also trying to develop employment pipelines for our trades positions. Maybe develop something similar to Bayworks in California. #wefworkforcechat— Elizabeth Milestone (@LizMilestone) July 31, 2019
Some workforce initiatives were developed to respond to –or anticipate -- population changes. As demographic shifts continue, that means it’s a whole new ballgame for the water sector. And speaking of baseball, we don’t mean to brag, but apparently the chat was interesting enough to draw attention away from another discussion. Just saying.
But in all seriousness, the chat showed what happens when good ideas are fueled by the power of collaboration and communication, a synergy that has implications far beyond social media.
A10 we need to do a better job of talkin, listening, and trusting. No one job title is going to solve the problems this sector is facing so we have to work better with each other respect each other and know we are all in this together #wefworkforcechat— Daniel O'Sullivan (@dannyo1084) July 31, 2019
“No one job title is going to solve the problems this sector is facing . . . ,” tweeted Daniel O’Sullivan, an operator in upstate New York, and we couldn't have said it better ourselves. Here are all of the hashtagged tweets in the chat, and in the meantime, be sure to keep up with us on Twitter for more information about our next chat!