WSAA was invited to attend the JWWA International Water Forum and Water Associations Meeting held in Kyoto, hosted by the Japan Water Works Association.
The event was attended by representatives from water industry associations from Japan, US, Taiwan, South Korea, Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand, and the IWA.
The theme of the International Water Forum was ‘Challenges for human resource development – toward sustainable water supply.’ The challenges for Japan seem immense in this area, with an ageing workforce and declining population, although building a strong, sustainable workforce poses challenges for us all. Issues across associations spanned from low pay for engineers, the loss of the baby boomers and their knowledge, to water’s lack of ‘sex-appeal’ compared to other industries, and the conservatism of the sector.
All associations were looking at ways to overcome these issues, from mentoring and job rotation systems, knowledge management systems, training and public-private partnerships. WSAA’s Executive Director Adam Lovell added a different angle to the discussion introducing the idea of diversity and inclusiveness (with a special mention of the Victorian water industry strategy), and the many benefits of building a workforce that represents the community it serves. It is encouraging to see that Australia is leading in this area.
The exhibition hall is probably the busiest ever experienced, and the showcasing of earthquake resilient infrastructure was unsurprisingly a major focus of the technologies on display.
WSAA is grateful to JWWA for the invitation to attend, and would like to the thank the other associations for their frank and open discussions about their challenges, experiences and learnings from their countries in building a strong, sustainable workforce.