Water Sector Workforce Development

Published in The Maritime Exchange for the Delaware River Basin’s The Beacon.

The Water Resources Association of the Delaware River Basin (WRA) works to solve challenges important to our members – did you know the Maritime Exchange is a member?

To read the full story, click here.

One challenge shared by a majority of members is attracting and retaining talent. From municipalities to ports, WRA members face challenges filling critical roles.  From municipalities to ports – WRA members face challenges filling critical roles. The Silver Tsunami – the large percentage of workers at or near retirement age – contributes to organizations’ inability to maintain a full crew.  According to Forbes, “one-quarter of the U.S. labor force is expected to be 55 years of age or older by 2030, presenting new challenges for employers – with many boomers exiting the workforce and taking the knowledge, skills, and experience built up over decades with them.”

The Global Maritime Issues Monitor 2022 reports that workforce and skill shortages were ranked 4th on the list of issues the maritime industry is least prepared to deal with (autonomy technology being 1st). 

In partnership with the Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission, Philadelphia Water Department, and the Partnership for the Delaware Estuary, WRA is spearheading a Workforce Development Initiative for the Delaware River Basin.  The overall initiative, Water Table 2, grew from findings based on Water Table 1, which brought together the water user community, governmental organizations, and nonprofits to identify shared priorities and potential areas for collaboration.

The Workforce Initiative launched in July with a virtual round table.  Participants included municipalities, universities, nonprofits, and industrial representatives.  We are just getting started, but already we can share some good news – organizations throughout the basin have launched programs to attract workers to the water sector and support workforce development. 

For the complete story, see page 15 of The Beacon.

The Workforce Development Initiative strives to connect and amplify existing programs, and identify and fill critical gaps in water and water dependent sector workforce development. If you would like to get involved, or have information about a program that should be included, contact Skelly at ed@wradrb.org.

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