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Attendees of the 2010 Celebrate Employers social event learned about the Milwaukee 7 Water Council’s work to build a talent base for freshwater industries. Internship professionals play an important role in helping the industry achieve its goals.
The following information was provided as a handout at the event:
RWA/WIRED Overview
The Regional Workforce Alliance (RWA), a partnership of workforce development organizations and other partners from the seven Southeastern Wisconsin counties (Kenosha, Ozaukee, Milwaukee, Racine, Walworth, Washington, and Waukesha), was created in 2003-2005 as part of Gov. Jim Doyle’s GROW Wisconsin (Growing Regional Opportunities in Wisconsin) program.
RWA administers a U.S. Department of Labor $5M WIRED (Workforce Innovation Regional Economic Development) grant that addresses the critical role that talent plays in regional economic development, particularly in key economic driver industries: Manufacturing, Financial Services, Health Care, and Water. The Water Boundaries Project was funded by WIRED. It started in October 2009 and concluded in March 2010.
Water Team
Team members included representatives from the M7 Water Council and other regional water experts: Dean Amhaus, Dick Buschmann, Claus Dunkelberg, Dominique Fisher, Michael Mortell, Elizabeth Thelen, Sammis White, and Pat Adrian.
Project Background
Project Purpose: To build a talent development framework to assist in the Water Council’s goal of building a “Water Generation” as well as education and workforce development programs that are part of this network.
Project Deliverables:

  • Proposed scope of water industry
  • Talent development framework for high priority industries and occupations
  • Methodology for evaluating all water industries/occupations knowledge/skill/ability (KSA) needs

The Plan
The team moved through a series of steps that considered the water industry from a high level view and then moved toward a more focused view. Project plan steps included:

  • Review current water industry literature
  • Identify regional scope: water cycle functions, water industries (NAICS codes), water companies
  • Identify relevant water industry occupations (SOC codes)
  • Determine the primary knowledge, skills, and abilities needed for water occupations
  • Examine regional educational programs of study for water occupations
  • Make recommendations for water education, career paths, curriculum

Results of the Water Boundaries Project were presented to regional water industry stakeholders on March 10, 2010 at the Water Industry Talent Summit event held at the Harley-Davidson Museum in Milwaukee.
From 1200+ industries, 84 water-related industries were prioritized into 3 groups, with the highest priority consisting of 15 industries in 5 clusters: public sector water utilities, water utility facility construction, plumbing, water utility consulting services (especially engineering), and waste/landfill.
Of 804 occupations, 71 water-related occupations were prioritized by the amount of water knowledge needed to perform the job tasks, with the highest priority consisting of 23 occupations that included water plant operators, inspectors, civil engineers/techs, chemical and environmental specialists.
Over 100+ knowledge/skill/ability characteristics were examined for commanality across 4 key career path occupations:

  • Top knowledge characteristics: Mathematics, Customer/Personal Service, English Language, Public Safety/Security, Computers & Electronics, Administration & Management
  • Top skill characteristics: Active Listening, Reading Comprehension, Critical Thinking, Active Learning, Writing, Mathematics
  • Top ability characteristics: Oral Comprehension, Oral Expression, Near Vision, Deductive Reasoning, Inductive Reasoning, Problem Sensitivity, Written Comprehension

Educational programs of study were examined at the highest level for 23 occupations. Example observations/feedback included:

  • Increasing accessibility to water programs across the region
  • Leveraging existing water curriculum to avoid duplication of efforts
  • Including a “Water 101” early within water occupation curriculum
  • Building water certificate “chunks”
  • Including hands-on water industry experience

Next Steps
The Water Boundaries Project deliverables are being used by a group led by Dick Buschmann, Milwaukee Area Workforce Board, to inform and support efforts to develop workforce development planning and curriculum building for water occupation training.
For more information, contact Elizabeth Thelen at 262-893-3345/ or Dick Buschmann at 414-270-1769/
View the complete Water Boundaries Project Presentation online.

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