WaterPro Magazine - 2017 - 51
LEADERS IN DEVELOPING TALENT
BY MATT HOLMES,
DEPUTY CEO, NRWA
THE NATIONAL RURAL WATER Association (NRWA) is moving forward to the
implementation phase of two new Waterpro Apprenticeship programs. The National Guidelines for
Apprenticeship Standards for Water and Wastewater System Operations Specialists have been submitted
to the Department of Labor (DOL) in Washington DC. Once approved by John Ladd, administrator of the
Office of Apprenticeship, the implementation phase can begin.
The Waterpro Apprenticeship programs are being developed nationwide to provide structured, high
level training for system operations specialists to advance to water and wastewater system operations
specialists. The Apprenticeship programs will allow system operations specialists to develop the
advanced skills and competence levels that are in demand by today's water industry. Water/wastewater
professionals are ultimately responsible for meeting stringent regulatory standards, replacing aging
infrastructure, recruiting and training new system operations specialists and responding to and recovering
from manmade and natural disasters.
As technology in water treatment and supply becomes more advanced and our understanding of
the risks to the public water supplies and the environment increases, the knowledge and skills needed
by water and wastewater system operations specialists increases. It has been reported that by 2020,
the water sector will 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, compounding the loss of
experience with the loss of institutional knowledge. NRWA feels that registered apprenticeship is the
most practical and sound training system available to meet that need: to develop individuals into skilled
system operations specialists and to ensure the industry an adequate supply of skilled workers.