A collaboration between Oklahoma State University and the National Groundwater Association aims to address a projected shortfall of geoscience workers and improve access to groundwater, according to the NGWA press release.
NGWA and OSU are creating a series of groundwater training courses delivered online with future development of classroom and field courses. The program will offer career development opportunities for industry professionals, university students and entry-level workers, according to the press release.
These courses aim to improve the safety and skills of drilling industry members and systematically address the shortage of professionals in the industry.
“As a land-grant institution, Oklahoma State’s mission is to address issues facing our state, nation and world,” said OSU President Burns Hargis in the press release. “As one of the few universities with a long history in groundwater education, we know that 98.5% of the drinking water available to people is in the ground. We also know that the infrastructure supporting groundwater needs to modernize, and we are proud to do our part to address the issue.”
According to NGWA CEO Terry S. Morse, a significant number of knowledgeable and experienced geoscientists are aging into retirement, reported the press release.
“Even prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, the field was projected to face a shortfall of 135,000 workers by 2022,” said Morse in the press release. “We need to train the next group of people who will manage groundwater and operate these rigs. That is obviously a serious problem not just for the industry, but for everyone considering that access to clean water increases life expectancy by 20-plus years. So NGWA was compelled to address this problem, and OSU will help us meet this challenge.”
The first course in the new program is Drilling Basics Online, a series of five, eight-hour sessions developed through a collaboration of industry professionals, scientists, engineers and experts in online education. The course covers the skills and competencies tested for on groundwater drilling exams, according to NGWA.
The initial funding for the program is in place and has been provided by private donors and industry sponsors, added the press release.