Brain Drain

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Anyone in the municipal sector’s wastewater industry knows that as the rank and file reach retirement age, we need to work hard to recruit new people to manage and operate our treatment facilities.

Even with a slow economy and tight job market, certain trades are suffering from the next generation’s lack of interest and skills.  My company’s affiliation with the plumbing trade makes me aware that the trades are suffering from the same lack of “new blood.”  It’s even more dire in the wastewater field. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics employment of water and liquid waste treatment plant and system operators is expected to grow by 20 percent between 2008 and 2018, which is much faster than the average for all occupations.

NOTE: Data in this table are rounded. See the discussion of the employment projections table in the Handbook introductory chapter on Occupational Information Included in the Handbook

 A growing population and the increasingly suburban geography of the United States are expected to boost demand for water and wastewater-treatment services. There’s a conundrum for hiring employers.  Recruits need strong math and science backgrounds and will require certification or licensing. That requires experience, but candidates with both don’t exist or have better opportunities.  So what’s the solution?

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