Retirement Wave Incoming: Ripples in Wastewater Industry Expected
The big retirement wave is upon us as every day more Baby Boomers retire leaving a gap between supply and demand of labor. This leads many people to ask the question – How Will My Utility Manage?
Water and Wastewater is such an important industry. We have a dependence on running water, gas and electricity that should not be understated. Utility professionals – along with other essential workers – help to keep everyone and everything on the right track – especially now during the pandemic. As a result, the incoming retirement wave, according to WaterOnline.com, is said to be 37% of workers in the next 10 years. This will put management in a position where they need to do more with a smaller team and attract and recruit young talent to make up for lost talent. Luckily, there are a few options for how this can be carried out with diversity and inclusion at the forefront of solutions.
The first option is to “simply” do more with less. Internal resources become a consideration here, as there are fewer resources for recruiting employees and training them among existing management teams. Many teams are left with the choice to go about their work with fewer labor resources. The main way of accomplishing this comes from digitizing and creating automation for manual tasks when possible.
The second option is to bring in young talent to fill vacancies. Through a combined force of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), individual states and industry organizations, campaigns such as Work for Water are being formed to build interest among the younger demographic. Of course, along with attracting this demographic comes the need for the eventual digital transformation of utilities.
As utilities look for new workers and adjust to the changes going on around them, they must make sure that they are embodying both inclusivity and diversity. It is important to no longer suppress and gloss over racism, sexism and ageism in the industry. With the many changes happening in the industry, this is surely an important time in the history of Water and Wastewater management.