The changing face of water jobs
The world is facing a severe shortage of skilled water professionals. This comes at a time when environmental challenges are demanding more and more of those who are currently in the field. Emerging demands of climate change, environmental management, new technologies, and the multidisciplinary nature of sustainable water management are among the challenges water professionals are having to adapt to . These challenges are revolutionising the way the water sector will operate in the future.
Liz Floyd, a Specialist Recruiter in Water and Environment from Bayside Personnel, has watched these changes affect the pattern of recruitment needs in the industry. She is seeing an increasingly high demand for water management professionals both in Australia and globally, across urban and rural development sectors. But more than the demand for numbers of water professionals, Ms Floyd is seeing dramatic changes in what is being asked of new water managers.
“Our physical world is consistently under threat due to climate change and increased population demands, which require an interdisciplinary commitment and leadership to manage water resources globally,” she says.
This multidisciplinary nature of sustainable water management calls for an innovative delivery of water services with minimal impact to the environment. Future water professionals will be required to have skills which were virtually unheard of in the past.
“Professionals need to be equipped with the technical, social and economic skills to make a significant impact in the overall water industry. This is why integrated water management is so important,” says Ms Floyd.
Integrated water management is a holistic approach to water management. It considers the whole water cycle and takes into account the socio-economic, political and environmental factors affecting water challenges, in order to achieve sound, sustainable solutions for water and water-related problems.
“To be competitive in the marketplace, professionals need to be constantly updating their skills and striving for personal and professional development. Gone are the days when professionals completed one undergraduate degree and were able to learn everything else on the job.
“Professionals are most attractive to organisations when they are pro-active in enhancing their existing qualifications and skills through postgraduate degrees, which improves their career progression opportunities. Applicants become more well-rounded in their approach to both technical and non-technical problem solving and enhance their professional networks through the continuing interaction with fellow students.”
This continuing demand for high quality leaders in the water field is not likely to lessen in the next decade or so. “Water is, without doubt, one of the most critical services to ensure the high standards of quality of life are maintained.” As we look towards the future, Ms Floyd says, “professionals with technical, leadership and integration skills will become increasingly valuable in solving the world's water resource issues.”