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Posted on: March 5, 2021

EPA Highlights WaterOne’s Sustainable Career Development Program

WaterOne’s Distribution Technician Program has been featured in a collection of water sector case studies published by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The publication, titled “Making Water A Career Of Choice”, highlights innovative solutions to recruit, train, and retain employees for jobs in the water utility sector.

Careers in the water sector are critical to the safety and well-being of our communities, and maintaining a stable, skilled workforce is an essential part of long-term utility sustainability. Water providers like WaterOne are continually challenged to recruit and retain a highly trained, well-equipped workforce to support the needs of their customers. The case studies featured in the EPA publication showcase how careers in the water industry can offer attractive job stability, career growth, and opportunities to give back to the community in meaningful ways.

The Distribution Technician Program featured in the EPA case study was developed to enhance sustainability in WaterOne’s workforce. The program restructured career progression in its Distribution division, empowering employees ranging from entry level through milestones in their career to learn and advance at a self-determined pace. The program helped address high turnover rates which were causing a loss of institutional knowledge, disrupting productivity, and impacting morale.

The Distribution Technician Program focuses on training, skill introduction and practice, and certification through license or exams within a set of six major competencies that cover skills needed for success in Distribution Technician roles. Employees are eligible for pay increases as they progress through the program, establishing an incentive for continuous learning and advancement as well as enhancing organizational sustainability. The career ladder developed for the Distribution Technician Program sets transparent qualifications for each step of advancement in skill and experience and corresponding compensation and responsibilities. Whether starting at the first step with limited experience or joining the organization mid-career (and mid-ladder) with demonstrated skills and experience, the program empowers Distribution Tech employees to pursue certifications, demonstrate competencies, and reach competency benchmarks for career advancement on their own schedule.

WaterOne’s Distribution Technician Training Program was developed internally.  WaterOne partnered with the University of Kansas initially for strategies on taking exams and study techniques. Since the program’s implementation, WaterOne has seen reduced turnover and increased skillset. The program has also benefitted WaterOne’s recruitment efforts, drawing job applicants who are attracted by clearly-defined opportunities for career advancement. Employees report satisfaction with the self-guided nature of the program, which empowers them to take charge of their own career trajectories. 

“The requirements for advancement are very clearly laid out. By working through the program and picking up the skills, certifications, and experience you need, you have the ability to make more money in your role pretty quickly,” said Distribution Tech 1-5 Nick Hays, who has been at WaterOne for a year and a half. “I’ve never been at a job with a program like this before, but for me, it’s been working out really well.” 

Interested in a meaningful career in water? We're hiring! Visit waterone.org/careers to learn more. 


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