Water Industry Professionals

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Excerpts from Smooth Sailing on Shifting Seas

"From the standpoint of employment and growth, a professional focus on water and wastewater treatment today is a great idea for an engineer or scientist in the early stages of their career. As competition grows over decades for water rights and clean water, the skills of WEF members will be increasingly valued by society at large. Show up for work, do a good job and — in the long term — career growth will happen. No guarantees that there may not be some tough years along the way, but there is a universally good prognosis for steady growth of your industry in the future. How do individuals capitalize on the trend? Strategic thinkers grow vertically during the boom years that occur during their careers via promotion and salary because they were wise enough to grow horizontally by expanding their skills during the lean years. This is an industry where education, certifications and professional licenses truly matter to employers and end users alike. If an employer will sponsor training and education, employees who bypass the opportunity may come to regret having done so down the road."

"Assuming that the period of uncertainty and disruption for the professionals who comprise the heart and soul of the wastewater equipment industry continues, employers have quite an issue brewing. The traditional social compact between employers and staff is that staff gives value and short-term sacrifice to their employer in return for security and career rewards in the long term. That model can crumble when the owners and managers who benefited from the value and sacrifice up front are no longer in place to deliver on the bargain at the end. Is not the lesson to industry professionals: Every man, woman & child for themselves? Employers in our industry will continue to face issues related to employee loyalty due to the displacement and downsizing that is part and parcel of mergers and acquisitions. When employers lament the "what's in it for me?" mindset of the current workforce, they need only to look in the mirror for its origins. 100+ long time employees laid off by one new corporate owner two weeks before a recent Christmas holiday may have strong opinions on the mirage — like an imaginary oasis in the desert — of reward for longevity & company loyalty. When the workforce is treated as a commodity to be upsized or downsized rather than an appreciating company asset to be protected and nourished, employee loyalty has no true foundation. Todays and tomorrows managers will inherit this crisis in employee loyalty from those who preceded them. How well they handle it will determine the ratio of employees sailing on PT Boats vs. Battleships."