One third of the water sector workforce will be eligible to retire in 10 years. This is both scary and exciting at the same time. Scary because the workforce is aging out, institutional knowledge may be lost, and there may not be anyone to fill the roles. It is exciting because it is an opportunity to introduce others to the water and wastewater field.
Veterans are an untapped resource primed to take on the water industry’s need for skilled workers. We’ll discuss why veterans are a good choice for the field, why veterans would benefit from jobs in the water sector, and how employers can actively seek and recruit veterans.
Like military service, water and wastewater operator jobs are about public service and protecting a community or larger group. Operator jobs offer good pay ranging from $35k-$70k, and benefits including healthcare, retirement, and retirement plans.
Job security is high in the water industry because of the necessity of clean drinking water and wastewater treatment. It is next to impossible to outsource this work or handle the job remotely.
Some people also prefer the nontraditional hours such as rotating twelve-hour shifts or working at night.
Veterans are mission-oriented and many of their skill sets and technical training parallel what is needed as a water or wastewater operator. Some beneficial skills include:
Some states and organizations will include military experience in meeting certification requirements for water or wastewater operators.
A good model to look at on how to hire veterans is the Water Warrior Initiatives. The Water Warrior Initiative program provides G.I. Bill-qualified training and educational opportunities with a stipend up to $2,000 per month for two years. The program also provides placement assistance, internships, and streamlines the certification process for veterans.
Company websites and social media are great places to market for hiring veterans. Veterans are often driven by purpose and a mission and highlighting key components of your utility or organization’s mission in social posts will appeal to this mindset of Veterans.
Look internally for veterans already employed within your organization and utilize their experience. Including a veteran on your human resources team can aid in the translation of military jargon on resumes. Veterans can also have a special connection to candidates who also have past military service. Veterans in human resources can also assist in interviews, reviewing candidates, and writing job descriptions tailored to veterans.
There are also numerous organizations to help your utility connect with veterans:
It is important to think outside the box when it comes to recruiting future water and wastewater operators. Veterans provide a skilled workforce that can be utilized by the water sector. Education, outreach, and awareness are all activities that can highlight the importance of water sector jobs and connect with individuals who can fill the gap. Thank a veteran and think of a veteran when it comes to recruiting and hiring water staff.