Future Water Association urges firms to back youth initiative
The Future Water Association is urging the sector to get behind its campaign to get young people interested in the sector and help find the next generation of workers for the water industry.
The ‘Skills for the Future’ initiative aims to get children of early secondary school age (11-14) taking part in fun challenges, lessons and projects that will get them thinking about the importance of water and the vital role played by the water utilities.
The idea for the initiative has developed from the trade body’s Young Water Dragons competition, which challenges schoolchildren to come up with innovative solutions to water-related problems. The inaugural Young Water Dragons competition was held at the Big Bang Fair in March this year and the winners were Teesside High School.
During the four days of the Big Bang Fair, which focuses on Science, Technology, Engineering & Mathematics (STEM) – Future Water Association judged projects from over a dozen schools, with subjects ranging from ‘Could Algae Save the world’; ‘Morbosphere and reducing Malaria’; ‘Aquatic Pacer’; ‘Hydroponic systems’ ‘Hydro-power’ ‘microbes and wastewater treatment’ and many more.
The association wants Young Water Dragons to be the centrepiece of a wider effort to engage young people in the sector which will include establishing Water Dragons as a regular part of the National STEM Awards programme, holding regular communications with schools to get young people interested in water, and an engagement plan of talks and events which focus on water projects and help put water on the careers agenda.
Organisations to have already backed the initiative include Amec Foster Wheeler, Artesia Consulting, blu-3, Clancy Docwra, Immerse, Inflowmatix, Murphy Group, MSC Associates, Onsite, RPS, Skanska, Water 2 Business and WRc.
Paul Horton, CEO of the Future Water Association, said: “Water is so critical to our future that is underpins our economy and way of life. We don’t just need to attract the next generation of creative thinkers, we need to show them that the water sector is a vibrant and exciting place to work, more interesting than NASA.”
The utility sector is facing a skills crisis as a result of ageing workforce and a declining skills base; by 2024, water companies will need to have replaced their entire workforce, said Horton. It is therefore essential to encourage young people to be excited by the water sector as a potential career.
“I’ve spoken to a number of schools career advisers who have said ‘glad you got in touch, because we don’t know anything about the sector,’” says Horton. “We don’t talk to our kids about the sector. It seems crazy when water is so valuable, but if we don’t do anything now, then in seven years’ time, we’ll have a lot less people.”
Find out how your organisation can help at http://www.futurewaterassociation.com/young-water-dragons
Read WWT’s feature on the water sector skills shortage in September’s issue of WWT: http://wwtonline.co.uk/features/a-time-to-skill#.Wa04ych9670
- Three JVs selected to build £4.2bn Thames 'super sewer' Three joint ventures - BMB, FLO and CVB - are the preferred tenders to build the £4.2bn Thames Tideway Tunnel. The... Read More >
- Sutton and East Surrey Water's £14m water main shortlisted for award Sutton and East Surrey Water has been shortlisted for an Institution of Civil Engineers (ICE), award for the construction... Read More >
- Corrosion challenge targeted with £3M investment Global testing group Exova says it is responding to the global financial impact of corrosion in industry by investing in a... Read More >
- Reaching net carbon zero In summer 2019, the water industry committed to reach net carbon zero by 2030. This is a very ambitious aim and... Read More >
- In the frame for delivery: UKWIR CEO on Ofwat's innovation competition With Ofwat confirming plans for a £200 million innovation competition which will run between 2020 and 2025, UKWIR chief... Read More >
- A digital revolution in water The UK Water Partnership (UKWP) has launched a 10-point action plan to help ensure that UK plc wins its share of an... Read More >
- Industry 4.0 - how to build a digital twin Chris Steele, head of information management and analytics at Black & Veatch Europe, runs through the steps required to... Read More >
- Rewarding excellence WWT content director Alec Peachey looks ahead to next year's Water Industry Awards. Read More >