The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Vocational Rehabilitation and Employment Pro-gram recently announced a memorandum of understanding to connect veterans with disabilities to career opportunities in the water and wastewater sectors – such as at wastewater plants and drinking water facilities – as part of EPA’s Water Sector Workforce Initiative. This effort will be beneficial to both the environment and economy.
The agreement allows EPA and VA to connect qualified veteran employees with
staffing needs at water and wastewater utilities.
EPA and the VA will work with water utilities, states and local VA counselors
to promote water-sector careers and resources for finding water jobs for
veterans, as well as educational programs to help veterans transition into
careers in water industries.
“This agreement comes at the perfect time to address the predicted workforce
shortages in the water and wastewater industries, and the need for
transitioning veterans into civilian jobs,” says Nancy Stoner, acting assistant
administrator for EPA’s Office of Water. “EPA believes that well-trained and
experienced water sector professionals are vital to ensuring sustainable,
properly operated systems.”
“VA has cultivated relationships with both public and private industry to
ensure disabled veterans have opportunities to find and maintain meaningful
employment,” says under secretary for benefits Allison Hickey. “We are thrilled
to forge this relationship with EPA to assist them with hiring veterans through
our Vocation-al Rehabilitation and Employment Program.”
More than one-third of all current water operators are eligible to retire
within seven years, and according to the U.S. Department of Labor, employment
for water and wastewater operators is expected to grow by 20 percent between
2008 and 2018, faster than the national average for all other occupations. EPA
sees the need to invest now in creating a pipeline of future water sector
professionals to fill these essential water sector careers.