$500K will help Grand Rapids, GRCC find water treatment workers

Grand Rapids
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GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — Grand Rapids Community College and the city of Grand Rapids are getting a big chunk of federal money to address a labor shortage within the water treatment sector.

About $500,000 is going to GRCC, the city and Bay College in Escabana, which has a water resource management program. It will pay to help introduce middle and high school students and neighborhoods with high unemployment to fresh water and wastewater utility jobs.

GRCC plans to launch “water weekend” events to share career information with students. There will be boot camp-style workshops, internships and local job-shadowing opportunities.

“Like water and sewer utilities across the nation, Grand Rapids is experiencing staffing shortages due to retirements and the lack of a diverse pool of qualified water professionals,” Grand Rapids Water System Manager Wayne Jernberg said in a Monday statement. “We are confident that this partnership with GRCC will help to address our long-term workforce needs and encourage young people within the community to pursue a career in the water industry.”

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is distributing about $3.8 million in grants to similar programs around the country.

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