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Announcing KBR, Inc as a Founding Partner for Careers in Water

Kellogg Brown & Root Pty Ltd (KBR) is a company of innovators, thinkers and creators who all share one goal — to improve the world. KBR is a Principal Member of the AWA and has signed on as a founding partner for the Careers in Water program. Margaret Riley, Director of Water, Australia for KBR, sat down with Source to discuss what needs to be done to cultivate future water professionals.

“I really enjoyed the conversation I had with AWA around the purpose of the Careers in Water program and how collectively we need to facilitate that conversation and drive awareness of our industry”, said Margaret.

“It's also about retention of great people and for me, that's a pretty important reason to get our message out there.”

Careers in Water

Margaret relayed the importance of empowering water professionals and ambassadors to talk more about their skills and how these conversations with friends, colleagues, students, and strangers can make the water sector more attractive as a potential career choice.

“I think a lot of people have a one-dimensional view of the jobs and skillsets needed in the water industry. They might only think of the water industry when people turn up to do something in their street and that's not a bad representation about who we are but it's not the entirety of what we are and what we do”, she said.

“Being able to get out there and talk about ourselves, that we're more than just ‘that’ customer experience but we’re a complex and multifaceted environment to work in which is actually really exciting. It's also a dynamic space and you certainly can achieve a fulfilling lifelong career within the water sector.

Short term skills shortage vs. long term career growth

3000+ extra jobs are expected to be created in the water sector in just a few short years. This boom is in line with what KBR, Inc are anticipating, especially as the demand increases for more skilled professionals. Margaret talked about three main areas that need to be addressed to solve the skills shortage issue.

“First and foremost, we always want to attract top leaders into our industry, the second issue is having the right knowledge and expertise because that's the bedrock of what we do. The third issue is difficult because it revolves around anticipating skills we need in the future but perhaps don’t know what they are or indeed haven’t even been ‘invented’ yet.” she said.

“As an industry, we should be looking for people who are in high school, university, early in their career or maybe those who are thinking of transitioning from a completely different career into the water industry. These people are going to be involved in creating new futures for our industry and our communities.”

Early adoption of a water-centric career from high school students and university graduates is pivotal for any industry. With increasing adoption of technology, automation, AI and other sectors becoming redundant, the water sector is primed to onboard new and existing professionals.

“I can see the industry changing rapidly and needing to sustain that level of change for the longer-term. It's not just a short term bubble of growth. There's an ongoing building of the industry required. When you consider the new thinking, planning, and investments that need to be made around issues like Net Zero, improving environmental outcomes, meeting the challenges of growth and increasing community expectations around our services, it requires top talent to gather around these issues”, she said.

How will Australia fair?

Australia is a unique continent, both the driest and the hottest that’s also at the forefront of climate change and water resilience. Margaret reinforced how the Brisbane Olympics will be a test of how we can adapt and promote sustainable thinking, technology, processes and ways of living.

“We’ve made big commitments with the 2032 Brisbane Olympics about being a green community so as an industry, we need to be front and centre of reshaping our way of life and making our environment and cities sustainable places in which to live, work and play. We need to be a part of creating this future focussed sustainable vision and communicating this with the community around us.”

Where to from here?

The Careers in Water program allows for collaboration and input from different companies to address the skills shortage and further cultivate a growing profession of skilled water experts.

“This gives us an opportunity to be quite deliberate about investing in people. We also need to be open to change and thinking outside the square and encourage others to do the same. It's going to bring some fresh thinking and ideas and with the right people around us, we can create something important and new”, said Margaret.

Want to know more about Careers in Water?

The Australian Water Association is bringing the sector together to address this shortage and established the Careers in Water Program to promote awareness, attraction and retention of skills and talent to Australian water organisations now and in the future.

Visit Careers in Water website Contact the Careers Program Team