Jan. 26, 2018 — The U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) on Jan. 26 published a new report that analyzes the current and future workforce needs for the drinking water and wastewater sector. The report also provides recommendations to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the U.S. Congress regarding actions the federal government could take to avoid workforce shortages.
Congress introduces workforce legislation
Additionally, on Jan. 25, U.S. Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.) introduced S. 2346, the Innovative Water Workforce Development Act of 2018. This bill is intended to address some of the future workforce shortage issues for the water sector. Specifically, the bill would
- authorize EPA and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to establish a competitive water utility workforce development grant program;
- support public water and wastewater utilities that are facing challenges, such as a high retiring workforce rate, or are in areas with high unemployment;
- provide support for targeted internship, apprenticeship, pre-apprenticeship, and post-secondary bridge programs;
- encourage grant recipients to collaborate with labor organizations, community colleges, and other training and education institutions to provide on-the-job training and other skill development to ensure post-secondary success; and
- provide support for K-12 and young adult education programs to increase awareness about opportunities for employment in the water utility sector.