In partnership with industry representatives from the Water Energy Education Alliance (WEEA), the Orange County and San Diego/Imperial Centers of Excellence for Labor Market Research (COE) co-led a 15-month research project that has culminated in the release of a new report, California Workforce Needs in the Water/Wastewater Industry.
The publication is the first statewide, comprehensive overview of the workforce needs for mission-critical occupations in the water/wastewater industry. Mission-critical occupations are defined as essential positions in water and wastewater operations that are difficult to fill and typically require at least a high school diploma.
Guided by three research questions, the report includes a thorough literature review, labor market analysis of the industry and eight mission-critical occupations, an industry survey with more than 500 responses, and interviews with 20 of the 36 community colleges that offer water/wastewater programs.
After analyzing both primary and secondary data sources, the COE developed specific key findings and actionable recommendations for employers and community colleges to address current, and future, workforce challenges. Four themes emerged from the recommendations: Awareness, Diversity, Partnership Between Industry and Community Colleges, and Skills.The COE presented this report at WEEA’s 14th Leadership Roundtable on March 28, which was attended by almost 100 industry representatives and educators. Following the deep-dive presentation, the COE joined participants in focus groups to discuss how they would take action to address the report’s recommendations. The COE also will be presenting at the California Community College Association for Occupational Education (CCCAOE) Spring 2023 Conference in late April.