Orange County Utilities (Fla.) Connects Skilled Leadership and Staff to Enhance Workforce Capability

Source: Jacqueline Torbert, Water Utility Infrastructure Management, Vol. 12 no. 1, February 2015

While nearly every water utility anticipates increasing difficulties in hiring technically qualified employees, Orange County Utilities in Orlando, Fla., has designed a utility-wide approach to retaining and developing in-demand expertise and leadership. …..

…In order to develop essential technical service providers in the public sector, water utilities frequently face long-standing restrictions in their ability to be the employer of choice: low pay scales, slow advancement, declining value in benefits and inflexible hierarchies. There are many more areas of expertise for which the demand is increasing. People capable of conducting complex operations; applying technical specialties in plants, labs and in the field; overseeing preventive maintenance; data quality management; and continuing regulatory compliance are sought after by both public and private water utilities. Moreover, 67 percent of manufacturing companies are currently experiencing a shortage of qualified workers. The data makes it clear — private sector recruiting efforts will limit the availability of the talent pool for public utilities.

Nationally and locally, public utilities must be able to make the case to retain, train or hire the right people into those positions. A strong employee development and technical growth program creates purpose, motivation and long-term interest within organizations. ….