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Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewerage District (MMSD) is committed to growing the next generation of water workforce through a variety of career exploration and training opportunities.
The Milwaukee Water Equity Taskforce was convened to explore pathways to a more equitable water future and inclusive workforce in Milwaukee. Its members represent a range of stakeholder interests—utilities, nonprofits, neighborhood associations, workforce development organizations, and educational institutions. The Milwaukee Water Equity Taskforce recommends a call for stronger collaboration among all those in Milwaukee’s water sector and meaningful changes to workplace culture, policies, and practices. The Taskforce believes that advancing these recommendations will help ensure that the economic, environmental, and social benefits resulting from community investments in water are more equitably shared by all.
Workforce equity requires aligned initiatives and partners to develop a robust talent pipeline from underserved communities. It is critical to increase awareness at the youngest ages through water-related education about how water and wastewater systems play a role in public health and protecting and improving the environment. In so doing we can tell a compelling story about the numerous opportunities for a successful career in the water sector. MMSD is working with a broad array of partners at various levels to spur a more equitable water future for Milwaukee.
“While Milwaukee is a water-centric city, our water workforce does not reflect the diversity of our residents. To build a more diverse workforce we are investing in and partnering with community-based workforce partners and other water sector employers -- there is no such thing as a “go it alone” approach when developing our future workforce.” Kevin L. Shafer, P.E. Executive Director – MMSD
The Fresh Coast Ambassador Program and the collaboration between Cream City Conservation and the Boys & Girls Club is a great example of a high school work experience on green infrastructure. Cream City Conservation and the Boys & Girls Club leverage their partnership with the local workforce development board, Employ Milwaukee, to connect young people to paid work experiences while providing career planning, support services, and culturally competent, social and emotional learning to ensure the young person can thrive and grow in the program.
The pilot program, Fresh Coast Fresh Start (Fresh Start) is another example of working with community partners, Cream City Conservation, Milwaukee Jobs Work, and Milwaukee County Parks to provide opportunities for populations that are re-entering the community from incarceration or are under or un-employed. Fresh Start provides training on industry topics such as wastewater operations; conveyance construction; watercourse; and green infrastructure construction and vegetation establishment along with personal and professional development and wrap-around support services. The goal is to train adults to be workforce-ready and, in doing so, lead to job opportunities or apprenticeships.
The foundational opportunities students gain through our internship program, results in many students applying for subsequent summer internships with MMSD. In addition, we have hired several former intern participants as permanent MMSD employees, and currently, employ senior-level staff that were once participants in the MMSD intern program.
The RISE program, sponsored by MMSD, is a career and professional development program for college engineering students who attended high school or are currently residing in the MMSD service area. The program in partnership with Prism Technical provides meaningful paid work experiences for students and an opportunity to build long-lasting working relationships between students and MMSD service providers (construction contractors, engineering designers, consultants, and planning firms). This internship exposes students to opportunities and prepares them for increased success in the Greater Milwaukee engineering infrastructure job market. More than 65 local Milwaukee students have landed internships since the RISE program began in 2009. To learn more about the RISE program and how you can apply.
Learn more about the program in the RISE Newsletter.
MMSD is committed to developing and aligning skilled workers for our current and anticipated projects. In partnership with Wisconsin Regional Training Partnership (WRTP)|Building Industry Group & Skilled Trades Employment Program (Big Step), MMSD helps to recruit, train, and place local workers in the construction trades through its pre-apprentice training program. The District also places apprentice utilization requirements on many of its large construction projects to support local apprentices achieve journeyman status. To learn more about the local Milwaukee area pre-apprenticeship program in the construction trades, apply at WRTP Big Step.
MMSD is committed to utilizing local workers reflective of the diversity of our service area. To maximize the economic impact of our annual spending, local workforce requirements are typically placed on all construction bids. On average, local workers work more than 50% of hours on all MMSD construction projects each year. For information on local Milwaukee jobs in the trades visit Wisconsin Regional Training Partnership (WRTP)|Building Industry Group & Skilled Trades Employment Program (Big Step).
MMSD is a part of the National Green Infrastructure Certification Program (NGICP) developed in partnership with the Water Environment Federation (WEF) and other national utilities. NGICP provides the base-level skill set needed for entry-level workers to properly construct, inspect and maintain green stormwater infrastructure. MMSD works with local partners to set up training courses and exam dates and uses NGICP as a tool for skill development in green infrastructure and workforce development. MMSD is continuing to develop and refine the training program to fit the need of our local workforce.
MMSD’s internship program has been in existence for over 25 years. Our goal of the MMSD internship program is to grow awareness of opportunities with MMSD and careers in water-related industries. Exposing students to a hands-on learning experience helps inspire and educate students about future water-related careers.
MMSD’s intern program operates year-round with the majority of students hired for a summer experience. On average, MMSD hires 30 interns and co-op students for a summer term. The summer intern application period opens in January and closes in February each year. Students can expect a paid work experience in areas such as Water Quality Protection, Laboratory Services, Engineering, Construction, and Sustainability. To complement the hands-on experience, we offer students activities such as a touring Jones Island and South Shore water reclamation facilities, Green Infrastructure tour, Pelagos Boat Tour, attendance at a Commission Meeting as well as an end of the summer gathering.