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The Next Wave in the Water Industry

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The Challenge and the Opportunity  

Managing wastewater and stormwater may not be top of mind when one thinks of high-tech, green jobs, but this infrastructure sector offers opportunities to make real contributions to the environment and sustainability, as well as public health. But despite the combination of need, opportunities, and competitive salaries, wastewater agencies, and consulting firms face shortages of qualified workers. 

 The water industry has faced employment struggles since before the pandemic. According to the W&WD State of the Industry report, more than one-third of the workforce is 60 years of age or older. For these workers, retirement is approaching rapidly. And with a lack of visibility into the opportunities for young professionals, the water industry is struggling with how to bridge the skills gap and prepare for the challenges ahead. 

Utilities and consultants need a thoughtful strategy for succession planning and effective recruitment of exceptional talent. 

Making the Case for Gen Z 

Studies show that millennials are more likely to stay in a job when they feel that their work is fulfilling. Similarly, Gen Zers would choose a company with a purpose over higher pay. They want to spend more time thinking about the communities they serve and how to provide better access to water and sewers, and less time on tedious, manual spreadsheets. Infrastructure employers of all kinds—whether they employ designers, engineers, construction managers, or consultants—need to clearly communicate what appeals to these talented new graduates.  

Providing clean drinking water and a healthy environment are the types of higher callings that have the potential to make a significant difference in quality of life. This means that the industry should be poised to attract Gen Z workers. But graduates are also seeking out companies that use modern technology, and that’s where the competitive advantage truly lies for businesses and job seekers alike. 

 

Technology and Academia

Zainab Assaad - new graduate of American University in DubaiTech-savvy students are learning Bentley’s OpenFlows, as universities help prepare them to become the next generation of water/wastewater engineers. Students and faculty recognize the imperative of entering the job market with critical technology skills for a competitive advantage. Zainab Assaad, a new graduate of American University in Dubai explains “I have been using OpenFlows software in school for about two years. I used it for multiple course projects, gaining valuable experience in its application for water and wastewater management. Now, the prospect of working towards ensuring clean and safe water for communities, while also contributing to sustainable resource management, seems highly attainable.”   

Forward-thinking engineering consulting firms and utility agencies are also standardizing on OpenFlows, to ensure they have a strong position with the tightening talent pool. Bentley Fellow Tom Walski, Ph.D is the author of a host of books* on the OpenFlow series of products, written for educators and students. With experience as an associate professor and as a professional engineer he understands firsthand the critical relationship between industry and academia. In a recent interview, Walski shared “industry leaders know that by using the most innovative solutions they not only maintain a competitive advantage with their customers, but they have a competitive advantage when it comes to attracting the best talent.” 

 

The Right Solutions for the Right Job, Right When You Need It 

Engineering and ExcavatorWith Bentley’s water distribution modeling software, you can plan intelligently and deliver clean water safely, model water system operations accurately, and make renewal decisions reliably. Confidently create master plans, support land development projects, and optimize the operations of water distribution, wastewater, and stormwater systems. 

The engineers of today and tomorrow all agree that the OpenFlows intuitive user interface, ease of use, and interoperability enable them to save time and eliminate risks in their projects, large or small.  

This next wave of talented graduates are excited about the opportunities in the water industry that lie before them, and they are eager to apply the knowledge and technology skills they acquired in school. By entering the workforce with OpenFlows experience, they are primed to be productive from day one and are able to help utilities and consulting firms uplevel their business. The future is looking good, not only for these bright stars but for the businesses that are able to bring them aboard. 

 About Bentley System 

Bentley Systems is the infrastructure engineering software company and a true partner for industry and academic communities. They provide innovative software to advance the world’s infrastructure – sustaining both the global economy and environment – for improved quality of life.  

 

 * Publications for educators and students are available by visiting education.bentley.com/resources, and selecting e-books from the resource’s navigation. Interested in purchasing a printed version of the book? Find them on Amazon here. 

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