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Case Study - Get Into Water! Partnership

In Metro Denver, Arapahoe/Douglas Works! (the local workforce board) received a grant to help the water and wastewater industry. This industry sector has a widely accepted and recognized workforce need - a huge retirement wave coming up and a very low awareness by younger people of the career opportunities in the sector. This issue has been addressed at the national association level by the American Water Works Association which put together career marketing material, a website and other resources, and was something the regional chapter, the Rocky Mountain Section of the American Water Works Association, wanted to tackle as well.

There are four goals under this initiative:
1) Conduct and promote training programs to ensure mission-critical positions are filled with qualified, trained and technically skilled personnel;
2) Conduct adequate outreach and recruitment efforts to ensure interest in, and attraction to, mission-critical positions;
3) Enhance collaboration, education, and communication between operations staff and human resources professionals to create a positive culture for workforce development; and
4) Conduct knowledge management and employee retention efforts to ensure mission-critical personnel have the skills to operate effectively.

To lead this work Arapahoe/Douglas Works! hired an outside convener who had deep knowledge of and rapport with the industry. This is one of several factors they identified that contributed to the relatively easy success of the partnership. Other critical success factors include:

Cooperation - because the industry includes municipal waste water systems, in most cases the industry itself is semi-government, and thus the employers are more willing to share company information about workforce needs and work together. Also, the shared workforce need is so compelling.

Role of certifications - Career pathways are somewhat more straightforward as the necessary certifications are required by the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment as well as the Environmental Protection Agency. These are required in the industry regardless of employer.

Industry Assocation - This entire effort, from planning grant through implementation, has been driven by an industry association, the Rocky Mountain Section of the American Water Works Association. This has made employer engagement far easier because industry partners have been working together for a long period of time on many issues facing this sector.

Download the full profile to read more about their approach to participant support, employer engagement and systems change.  Or check out this powerpoint presentation describing the partnership.

One-page grant summary/description
 

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