Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms Joins Nation’s Leading Water Executives and Experts to Collaborate on Water Workforce Strategies
ATLANTA— Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms today joined New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell on a panel discussion for the Water Environment Federation Technical Exhibition and Conference. Speaking to an audience of 200 water utility leaders and executives from across the nation, Mayor Bottoms discussed the Administration’s efforts to address water workforce needs, equity and affordability challenges.
“The City of Atlanta’s Department of Watershed Management (DWM) safely supplies clean drinking water to 1.2 million customers and maintains daily economic activity exceeding $250M each day,” said Mayor Bottoms. “Given the scope and responsibilities of DWM and the multitude of job opportunities that exist in the water sector, it is essential that we partner with organizations like the Water Environment Federation, federal agencies and strategic partners to highlight the importance of funding water infrastructure at a higher level to strengthen the economy and put more people to work in well-paying, long-term jobs.”
Mayor Bottoms also spoke to the importance of building a world-class pipeline of talent.
“Currently, Atlanta has more than 1,400 hardworking, dedicated full-time water professionals,” said Mayor Bottoms. “Our workforce is culturally diverse, as the water sector provides well-paying jobs in every community in Atlanta—which in turn spurs economic growth across our city. We are seeing a growing need for additional talent and must continue to focus on understanding, attracting and retaining the next generation.”
To meet workforce needs, the City of Atlanta has created the Young Leadership Forum, where younger staff members meet bi-weekly to discuss career growth and take part in Toastmasters presentations and other leadership training opportunities. The City also has a co-op partnership with Georgia Tech’s Department of Engineering, which gives engineering majors the ability to receive on-the-job training.
Mayor Bottoms is also creating unique opportunities for low-level offenders to gain job training while incarcerated through the Department of Watershed Management’s partnership with the Department of Corrections and the State of Georgia. Following the release of each participant and full completion of the rigorous program, these individuals can gain full-time employment with the City of Atlanta – creating a new pipeline of qualified employees as well as a new outlook for numerous families throughout the City and State.
“Initiatives like the Young Leadership Forum, the co-op and other programs help us understand how the younger workforce prioritizes and balances their lives,” concluded Mayor Bottoms. “Millennials value quality of life and opportunities to advance. Approximately half of our water workforce will be eligible to retire in the next 10 years, so we will focus on engaging millennials to ensure a strong economy for both our city and future generations.”
The annual Water Environment Federation Technical Exhibition and Conference is the world’s largest water quality technical conference and exhibition, sponsored by the Water Environment Federation, a nonprofit water sector association focused on wastewater and storm water.