City Celebrates First Ever Water Job Training and Apprenticeship Program in Trenton
Mayor W. Reed Gusciora and Trenton Water Works (TWW) Director Mark A. Lavenberg announced a second semester of the TWW Training and Apprenticeship Program (TAP), which for the first time in the utility’s history provides current employees with the education necessary to advance their careers and pursue higher-level jobs in water treatment and distribution.
TAP is a two-year program that is available to TWW employees of all ranks and various educational backgrounds. Ten students are already enrolled in this program – six from the water-filtration plant, three from construction and maintenance, and one from engineering. Ten additional students are scheduled to begin June 2021.
Five of those students participate in an apprenticeship component that is managed by the N.J. Water Association (NJWA) with support from Mercer County Community College and the N.J. Department of Labor and Workforce Development (NJDOL) Growing Apprenticeships in Non-Traditional Sectors (GAINS) program. The GAINS program promotes the expansion of apprenticeship programs that drive economic development by providing the skills and education necessary for advanced credentials and better-paying jobs. Thanks to the GAINS program, half of the apprentices’ salaries are covered by NJDOL.
Apprentices are assigned water system licensed mentors who are TWW employees. Apprentices receive 290 hours of training, including 180 for the Operator Prerequisite Course at Mercer County Community College, which is being taught onsite at TWW headquarters on 333 Cortland Street by Andrew Pappachen, a water-industry executive with 46 years of experience in water system operation and management.
The TAP curriculum includes OSHA and FEMA emergency response training. Participants will ultimately become water system operation specialists or water treatment specialists who will be eligible to take the related state exams once they complete the required work hours.
“Having a major public utility right here in the Capital City puts us in a unique position to provide quality, high-skill jobs to our residents and the training to help them get there,” said Mayor Gusciora. “I’m grateful for our partners at Mercer County Community College, the N.J. Water Association, and the N.J. Department of Labor and Workforce Development who all came together to make this elite apprenticeship program available for the Trenton residents who work at TWW.”
“TWW always has a need for certified operators, and this program ensures that Trenton residents who already work at the water utility have the opportunities and resources to grow into those roles,” said TWW Director Mark Lavenberg. “We’re proud of the work TWW does for its service area and believe there isn’t a better place to develop a long-term water career than right here at one of the largest public utilities in the country.”
“My career as a carpenter didn’t give me just a job – it gave me a career,” said Assemblyman Anthony S. Verrelli. “I know for a fact that there are people like me who are studying at undergraduate institutions as we speak but who are not making the most of the skills and talents that they have – and they are there because college is too often the only post-secondary path presented to high-school students. This is misguided. We need a strong, vibrant economy that works for everyone – not just the wealthiest and most privileged people. We will not achieve that goal if we do not present working people with good career opportunities that have few or no barriers to entry and that offer mobility.
We need to connect our students to well-paying, fulfilling professions that don’t require a college degree and a lifetime of debt. Trenton Water Works is doing exactly that by giving Water Works employees the training and education necessary to advance their careers by giving them marketable, transferable skills. The Trenton Water Works Training and Apprenticeship Program is exactly kind of program we need for working people – barrier-free, on-the-job, credentialed training that can transform a job into a career.”
“The Murphy Administration is proud to have gone all-in when it comes to investing in partners like the City of Trenton and their new Water Job Training and Apprenticeship Program,” said N.J. Labor Commissioner Robert Asaro-Angelo. “This is another example of how our Office of Apprenticeship has been working to change the way our state’s businesses and young workers think about the viable and valuable career pathway of apprenticeship.”
“Mercer County Community College is proud to be part of this initiative to provide valuable education that directly leads to gainful employment,” said Dr. Jianping Wang, MCCC President.
“The N.J. Water Association appreciates the opportunity to partner with the City of Trenton and the N.J. Department of Labor,” said NJWA Executive Director Richard P. Howlett. “Through our partnership, we are providing on-the-job learning and technical instruction that leads to the development of a highly skilled, licensed workforce. These licensed water and water operators will possess the qualifications required to provide clean, safe drinking water, and to protect New Jersey’s environment. Also, importantly, our partnership with Trenton and NJDOL will create and support good jobs and will increase the pool of licensed water and wastewater operators in New Jersey.”
Trenton Water Works is among the largest publicly owned, urban water utilities in the United States. It supplies an average of 27 million gallons of Delaware River-sourced drinking water per day to 63,000 metered customers. It services more than 200,000 people in Trenton, parts of Hamilton Township, Ewing Township, Lawrence Township and Hopewell Township in Mercer County, New Jersey. Established more than 200 years ago, TWW operates a 60-million-gallon water-filtration plant and water-distribution system that includes a 100-million-gallon reservoir. TWW’s system has 683 miles of water mains varying in size from four to 48 inches in diameter, three pump stations, and six interconnections between TWW and other water suppliers.
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