Yesterday, the Sierra Club’s Chicago Water Team invited high school students to celebrate the UN-recognized World WaterDay and learn about opportunities to work in the water sector. Students met representatives from six different water-
related agencies, companies and organizations who shared information about the job, internship and training opportunities they provide to young adults.
The global celebration of this year’s World Water Day and its theme of “Water and Jobs” highlight the power that water and jobs have to transform people’s lives and the fact that nearly all jobs are related to water and those that ensure its safe delivery.
Guy Ryder, the ILO Director-General and Chair of UN-Water, says in this video message: “There is no life without water. The fact that access to water underpins all of our efforts to achieve sustainable development is clear. What is not so often said, is that the availability and sustainable management of water has a clear and direct link with the creation of quality jobs…Water can contribute to a greener economy and to sustainable development. But for this to happen, we need more workers qualified to realize the potential of new green technologies.”
Yesterday’s event gave Chicago high schoolers a firsthand look at the jobs they could have in the water field, and the path to obtaining the qualifications needed for these important positions. Participating groups included the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District, the Water Quality Association, and several private companies offering water filtration, plumbing and wetlands consulting services.
Jack Darin speaks to the crowd, Cindy Skrukrud demonstrates water quality testing and Jill Ryan shares information about the Water Quality Association with students.
“World Water Day is a great opportunity for UN agencies, non-governmental organizations, employers, trade unions and citizens to come together to make a call for better water and better jobs,” says Ryder.
All of the participating groups play a role in protecting water quality, whether its by ensuring safe and clean delivery of drinking water, treating wastewater and removing pollutants, or preserving natural ecosystems that filter and recharge water supplies. Bob Reiter, Secretary-Treasurer of the Chicago Federation of Labor also spoke about apprenticeship programs run by several building trade unions that can prepare young people for good jobs in water infrastructure and technologies.
Water resources are essential to the functioning of every aspect of society. As climate change affects our nation’s water supplies, and our population continues to grow and shift, it is increasingly important to build a sustainable water future. To reduce the impact of water stresses on communities, we must develop and implement sustainable, long-term water management strategies. We need skilled, highly qualified workers to develop these strategies and manage our water resources in a way that protects the environment and ensures reliable delivery of clean water to everyone. Introducing students to opportunities to get involved in this important work can help lead them on the path towards a job in water.
A big thank you to our Chicago Water Team volunteers, the participating groups, and the interested students for joining us on World Water Day to explore jobs in water.
Jill Ryan of the Water Quality Association and Vince Mosca of Hey and Associates, Inc. participate in the jobs fair.