Renewing the Water Workforce: Improving Water Infrastructure and Creating a Pipeline to Opportunity

June 15, 2018

The Brookings Institution

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As the U.S. economy continues to grow, many communities are struggling to translate this growth into more equitable and inclusive employment opportunities. Simultaneously, many of the nation’s water infrastructure assets are in urgent need of repair, maintenance, and restoration. Yet the workers capable of carrying out these efforts are in short supply due to an aging workforce eligible for retirement and the lack of a pipeline for new talent.

This report presents a new water workforce playbook for public, private, and civic partners to use in future hiring, training, and retention efforts. Utilities and other employers need to adjust existing hiring procedures and pilot new training efforts in support of the water workforce; communities need to hold more consistent dialogues and develop more collaborative platforms; and national and state leaders need to provide clearer technical guidance and more robust programmatic support. Ultimately, the report reveals the sizable economic opportunity offered by water jobs, including the variety of occupations found across the country, the equitable wages paid, the lower educational barriers to entry, and the need for more diverse, young talent.

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