Dillard's Water Management Program is Latest HBCU Entry into 21st Century Workforce Development

Colleges and universities are looking for ways to offer students cheaper education and training that will get them hired in jobs which won’t be easily outsourced by technological innovation. Providing clean water to cities and communities is one of those jobs, and Dillard University will be the first in Louisiana and among the first in the HBCU sector to offer training in this globally significant industry.

The non-degree credential will give students interdisciplinary training on water infrastructure, disaster response and policymaking on water quality standards. From a release:
“In addition to providing the skills to protect cities from floods, water-induced infrastructure decay such as sinkholes, and water-borne illness, Water Management is also an ever-expanding industry in terms of job growth in both the public and private sectors,” said Robert A. Collins, Ph.D., Professor of Urban Studies and Public Policy, Conrad N. Hilton Endowed Professor. “This program will help to put New Orleans on the cutting-edge of the Urban Water Management Industry nationwide.”
Dillard officials say water management will be among Louisiana’s fastest growing job sectors, with more than 14,000 jobs likely to be added over the next decade to more than 34,000 positions currently held statewide in the field.
As the nation deals with aging pipelines, climate change and shrinking budgets for public works, water management will be an essential field for African Americans to enter and in which to lead to help vulnerable communities avoid stories like those in Flint, MI. With a majority of HBCUs stationed in or very close to these vulnerable communities, schools offering programs like these have the best chances to earn federal funding and market value in recruitment and philanthropy.
DU joins Elizabeth City State University in debuting a new degree or certificate program that lends itself specifically to jobs of the future. In March, ECSU debuted plans for a drone aviation degree; a complementary offering that will grow substantially in the next few years for gas and utility management, public safety, and meteorology.
What makes these two programs important is the jobs for which they will build skill and experience. What makes them essential to HBCUs is the diverse range of people who will have an interest in pursuing the programs. Both of these areas can attract undergraduates, working adults, military members and retirees looking for new careers with the promise of near-guaranteed work and a decent living wage attached to it.
People of all races and ages can look to Dillard and Elizabeth City State for affordable training in areas which will require transferable skills and diverse competencies in STEM, liberal arts, and social science.
That’s the future of work, and thankfully, HBCUs are making good headway in keeping pace with global industrial need.

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