Pilot program to recruit local residents to address NJ’s water workforce shortage
💧 A NJ water workforce initiative aims to train and hire grads to work in the sector
💧 The program is 8 weeks and 50 hours long, starting in September
💧 Participants will be introduced to a career in the statewide water workforce
The future of New Jersey’s water sector lies in the hands of our community members.
What is the big challenge?
The water workforce is facing a big challenge because longtime employees and Baby Boomers are retiring. So, it is important that the state’s next generation of water workforce frontline workers is well-trained and supported on their pathway to successful careers in this important field.
“Also, sometimes the water utility doesn’t really adequately represent the community that it’s serving in, so therefore, the idea is to create an employment pipeline from the community that the water utility it is serving through the utility itself, and then the community can furnish the replacement workers that the sector needs,” said Andy Kricun, managing director of Moonshot Missions, and co-chair of the Jersey Water Works Water Workforce Development Initiative.
Moonshot Missions is a non-profit collaborative of public sector managers and officials who are dedicated to helping underserved communities gain access to federal and state funding to transfer the water sector ensuring the delivery of clean water and protecting the environment’s health.
New Jersey has over 500 municipal and private water utilities that provide both drinking water and wastewater management that require the support of frontline workers in order to function efficiently and to properly address chronic issues within the aging water infrastructure, such as lead pipe replacement and combined sewer overflow upgrades.
Unfortunately, the Garden State does not have enough frontline workers to address these concerns and issues.
What is the solution?
That’s where the Jersey Water Works Water Workforce Development Initiative pilot program comes in, established by JWW and New Jersey Future. The pilot program aims to educate, train and place graduates into employment opportunities within the state’s water sector.
What does the initiative program entail?
Kricun said the pilot pulls together the expertise and support from many different places. Bank of America is providing funding for the pilot version of the water workforce program. Hudson County Community College will recruit applicants, deliver the curriculum, and help to place graduates. Veolia, a global environmental services company will provide internships for some of the program graduates.
The initiative is recruiting about 10 to 12 participants this spring. But Kricun said the training begins in September. It is an 8-week, 50-hour-long program that basically introduces participants to a career in the water workforce.
Participants will be trained through both classroom and field experiences, and have the chance to be connected with utility companies for employment opportunities once they complete the program.
This is also an Earn and Learn program. “Not only will those picked for the program receive training, they’ll also receive up to $1000 in a stipend. We believe people’s time is valuable. We want to make sure we are encouraging them to come out for this program,” Kricun added.
There are few jobs that are as important to the public health and the environment as the water sector, making sure they are protecting people’s drinking water and water waste, he said.
“The people who go through this program will not only learn how to make a living but also learn how to make a difference,” Kricun said.
Anyone interested in the program can contact Paula Figueroa, director, Jersey Water Works Collaborative at 609-393-0008, ext. 1012.
Jen Ursillo is a reporter and anchor for New Jersey 101.5. You can reach her at email@example.com
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