The Everlasting Challenge of Employee Recruitment

The Everlasting Challenge of Employee Recruitment

The challenges never cease for municipal water and wastewater utilities. Whether it’s maintaining deteriorating infrastructure on a tight budget or trying to educate the public on various issues, there’s always something.

One of the top challenges that has become particularly prominent in recent years is the task of replacing an aging workforce.

“Employee recruitment and retention has turned into quite a challenge,” says Ray Shell, assistant executive director of the Macon Water Authority (MWA) in Georgia. “We’ve been talking about this stuff for some time now — attracting the new generation, developing your staff succession planning with folks retiring. It already was on the front burner, and then came the COVID-19 pandemic to take the issue and multiply it. I think we can get other challenges addressed and solutions underway, but this employee thing is going to be tough — finding qualified young people who want to make this a career.”

At any given time on the distribution and collections side, Shell says MWA is down a dozen employees on average. At its treatment plants it is down about a half-dozen operators. In its maintenance department, MWA could use a couple more employees as well.

“We have open positions. We try to advertise everywhere we can,” Shell says.

An area Shell likes to focus on for job advertising is rural utilities.

“The smaller systems, we’re surrounded by them and we need to advertise with those folks so their operators can look at us as someplace they can progress and move up. We have to emphasize that,” Shell says.

MWA also likes to take advantage of any chances to interact with area schools.

“Recently there was a career day event at a community not far from us. Any time something like that comes up as an opportunity, we take it,” Shell says.

You can read more about the Macon Water Authority in the April 2022 issue of Municipal Sewer & Water magazine.


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