Skills for the Future - Securing a Resilient Water Sector

Article Date: 23rd June 2017

Resilience is a term used often across the water sector and one that will feature prominently during the upcoming Price Review. 
Critical to resilience is asset health, financial health and skills, particularly the future skills of ‘new people’. Work by Energy & Utility Skills points to the need to have a complete turnover of staff at the utility level by 2024! Across the supply chain it is logical to assume that a similar turnover pattern exists. Both PwC and Fujitsu have found that at school level pupils are unlikely to know anyone working in utilities, and generally operate in social circles where no one contemplates a future in the water or energy sector, coupled with the view that utilities do not operate ‘state of the art’ systems. These factors combine to mean that the sector is facing an ever-widening gap in its ‘pipeline’ of new people.
Better use of data, application of robotics and Artificial Intelligence offers the potential of ‘bridging the skills gap’. However, this latest state of the art technology (which is in use in water) still relies on people who can understand the new systems and perhaps more importantly, analyse the data that they generate. Optimal performance of operations and assets is dependent on the right use of data that is properly analysed! Where will the new people come from?
Future Water Association has taken a major step in bringing the water sector to the attention of the next generation with the launch of Young Water Dragons. Already supported by over a dozen organisations, we recognise that this must become one of the major industry initiatives, supported by hundreds if not thousands of companies from our sector. 
Alastair Moseley, Director and Innovation Lead for Future Water Association says “The future of water supplies and sanitation in the UK will be dependent upon new bright minds entering the sector to develop new technologies and innovations to meet the challenges of a growing population and climate change. Our Young Water Dragons competition is designed to give youngsters who are enthusiastic about science and technology the opportunity to develop new ideas, and then ‘pitch’ them to potential ‘investors’ just like the Dragon’s Den programme. They learn all about the science and management of water in the process as well as the myriad of exciting careers that are available in the water sector. We hope that through the excitement of our competition we will inspire young people to choose the water sector for a rewarding career, and overcome the looming skills shortage.”
Paul Horton, CEO, Future Water Association adds ‘Water is so critical to our future that is underpins our economy and way of life. We don’t just need to attract the next generation of creative thinkers, we need to show them that the water sector is a vibrant and exciting place to work, more interesting than NASA!’
What can companies and organisations do? Join those on board and become a sponsor today and bring one additional company with you – let’s put water at the top of the careers agenda! To pledge your support please email or visit
Notes to Editor: 
Future Water Association, based in The Midlands, is a modern, innovative and dynamic membership organisation that inspires supports and leads the water supply chain, water companies and water retailers. Its goal is to provide business support to a sector facing many challenges.
If you have any questions about this release, please contact Paul Horton CEO of Future Water Dragons, email or telephone 01926 513774 
Photo below shows Greg Foot, the TV Science Presenter with Teesside High School who were last year’s winners with a project entitled 'Could Algae save the world?'  The team look at algae growth rates, how to increase the rates and maximise energy output. A full-scale prototype photo bioreactor is now in development with Northumbrian Water. The Team members were: Gabriella Bell; Jenny 
Lee-Orlopp and Hannah Foster.


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This was posted by future water association in Industry News

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