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Apprenticeship

The Water Systems Operation Specialist
Apprenticeship Program

At the Delaware Rural Water Association (DRWA), we are highly aware of the need for skilled water system specialists now and in the quickly nearing future; and we have been working diligently to address this need. The Water Systems Operation Specialist Apprenticeship Program was registered by Delaware’s Department of Labor in May 2019, with classes taught by DRWA instructors scheduled to begin the same year.

Why do we need the apprenticeship program?

In the next decade, 30-50% of water professionals are expected to retire. This program is a direct response to our need to tap the knowledge of water and wastewater professionals before their retirement. By enrolling in this program, employers will have the opportunity to get ahead of the curve, sustain on-the-job learning and facilitate baton-passing from one workforce generation to the next.

The US Department of Labor describes Registered Apprenticeships as employer-driven programs that combine on-the-job (OTJ) learning with related classroom instruction to increase the apprentice’s skill level and wages. It’s an effective strategy for connecting employers in need of qualified workers with job seekers looking to learn new skills while embarking on a rewarding career.

APPRENTICE benefits:

  • Earn while you learn
  • Pathway to many different career options within drinking water
  • Multiple related exit pathways (continuing education, lateral movements within company)
  • Receive increasing wages as new skills are mastered
  • Upon completion, receive nationally recognized journeyperson certificate

EMPLOYER benefits:

  • Decreased worker turnover by increasing employee loyalty and productivity
  • Apprentices work while they learn, so you can immediately fill vacant positions
  • Training is customizable to meet your utility’s needs
  • Keep your employees up to date on skills and technology
  • Tailor the skills of your incoming group of employees

What does the program entail?

  • Two (2) year commitment to learn theory & practice of the occupation
    • 4,000 hours On-the-Job Learning (OJL)
    • 288 hours formal classroom training
  • Progressively increasing wage schedule (min. journey wage currently $19/hr)
  • Classroom instruction provided by DRWA
  • “Earn while you learn” approach – work for a local employer to complete your hours

CLASSROOM CURRICULUM TOPICS – 2 Years, 144 Hours Per Year

Topic
Orientation to Small Water System Operation
Operator Basic Math
Plant Safety and Security
Disinfection & Lab Procedures
Laws & Regulations
Distribution Systems
Treatment
Distribution Operation & Maintenance
ASSE Backflow
Utility Management Certification

ON-THE-JOB LEARNING OBJECTIVES

Work ProcessHours
TOTAL Hours4,000
Tools, Equipment, and Workplace Safety240
Vehicles and Specialized Equipment400
System Operations and Maintenance1,920
Quality Control960
Logistics, Reports and Supervision480

Who should apply?

The program is open to qualified applicants currently employed or seeking employment in the water service industry. Apprentices must be employed by a Delaware water utility to satisfy the 4,000 hour OJL program requirement.

You can find more information about related careers by searching the O*NET-SOC Code 51-8031.

Minimum Qualifications:

These are the minimum requirements to be eligible for the apprenticeship program.

Age

Apprentices must not be less than 18 year of age. Proof of age is required.

Education

A high school diploma, General Educational Development (GED) equivalency or other high school equivalency credential is required.

Applicants must submit a DD-214 to verify military training and/or experience if they are a veteran and wish to receive consideration for such training/experience.

Physical

Applicants will be physically capable of performing the essential functions of the apprenticeship program, with or without a reasonable accommodation, and without posing a direct threat to the health and safety of the individual or others.

Drug Screening

Apprentices will be required to take and pass a drug screening on acceptance into the program and prior to employment.

Background Check

Pursuant to federal guidance all employees of public water systems must pass a background check. Applicants will be required to pass a qualifying background investigation upon selection into the apprenticeship program and prior to employment.

Driver’s License

Apprentices must possess a valid state issued vehicle operator license and be insurable at normal commercial rates on acceptance into the program and prior to employment.

Interested in applying to become an apprentice?

Applications will be accepted on a rolling, year-round basis. Related instruction classes will be held at DRWA. Please email kim.drwa@gmail.com or call 302-424-3792 and ask for Kim Smithman to start the process.

If you’re an employer interested in participating in the program, please e-mail kim.drwa@gmail.com about a Participating Employer Acceptance Agreement.

EQUAL OPPORTUNITY PLEDGE

As an EEO sponsor, DRWA will not discriminate against apprenticeship applicants or apprentices based on race, color, religion, national origin, sex (including pregnancy and gender identity), sexual orientation, genetic information, or because they are an individual with a disability or a person 40 years old or older. The sponsor will take affirmative action to provide equal opportunity in apprenticeship and will operate the apprenticeship program as required under Title 29 of the Code of Federal Regulations, part 30.

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