Water and Sanitation Jobs: bridging the skills gap

IWA, Cranfield University Professional Development

Target Audience

IWA YWP Chapters, IWA YWP Community, Students, YWP, IWA members and non-members, etc.


In a world where access to clean water and effective sanitation is paramount, a skilled workforce in the water sector plays a critical role in facing the global challenges posed by climate change and escalating water demand. At the same time, when the “water and sanitation sector is mostly failing its young staff and potential recruits” (UN, 2023), the sector needs to confront a shortage of professionals and an ageing workforce. Additionally, lack of motivation and other necessary skills may inevitably hinder the achievement of SDG 6 .  

To ensure a high quality of water and sanitation professionals, students and young people who want to work in these sectors need to develop and nurture their skills in a meaningful or structured way. Simultaneously, they need opportunities where they can leverage their potential and develop their capacities.  

In collaboration with Cranfield University and Josh’s Water Jobs, and engaging the IWA Young Water Professionals Community, this webinar provided an opportunity to acknowledge the importance of equipping young people with skills for employment, decent work and entrepreneurship. The panellists and attendees discussed the challenges faced by the young people willing to work in the water and sanitation sector. 

The webinar outlined the current workforce, gender disparities and working conditions, and the human resources gaps that exist in water and sanitation at different levels. While presenting the main debate, the webinar gave participants the chance to understand the benefits of a younger workforce, the importance of being part of networks and associations, and provided an opportunity to acknowledge the importance of equipping young people with skills for employment, decent work and entrepreneurship. 

With an intergenerational set of speakers, the webinar provided invaluable insights on cultivating technical expertise, leadership, and innovation for water professionals. This webinar was about identifying problems and finding solutions and empowering the next generation of water sector professionals. The webinar discussed strategies for cultivating technical expertise, fostering leadership skills, and driving innovation in the field.   

Watch the webinar on-demand, as we envision a future where the water and sanitation workforce thrives, making an indelible contribution to global welfare. 


Learning Objectives

Following this session, participants should now be able to:

  • Discuss the challenges the young people in the water and sanitation sector face and the potential causes at national and global levels.
  • Recognise the importance of young water and sanitation professionals in driving transformative change in the water sector and creating a water-wise world.
  • Identify the essential technical and soft skills needed for successful careers in the water sector.
  • Recognise the importance of collaboration and partnerships between various stakeholders to strengthen the water and sanitation workforce and access additional resources and opportunities for further learning and skills development in the water sector.




  • Francisca S. Braga - Industrial PhD Student, Skanderborg Forsyning a/s, IWA YWP Denmark Chapter, Denmark
  • Neil Dhot - Executive Director, Aquafed, UK
  • Josh Newton - Founder, Josh's Water Jobs, United States
  • Heather Smith - Senior Lecturer in Water Governance at Cranfield University, UK
  • Francis Sankah - Student Ambassador and Water and Wastewater Engineering Course Representative, Cranfield University, UK