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CRYOFRONT: News, Views and Muse from the Far North

Water HR in the Arctic By Ken Johnson, Stantec


or several years now, I have been framing the entire concept of ‘water’ management in the north in the context of three general areas of science. The first is the pure sciences (biology, chemistry, physics, etc.), the second is applied science (engineering), and a third I have referred to as social sciences (everything else). These general areas have a certain geography and chronology, with the pure sciences generally originating outside the north and being first in line, and the ‘process.’ The applied science may originate outside the north and usually follows the pure science with the engineering. The social science is generally at the end of the entire process with the financial, administrative, human resources aspects of social science that are a ‘legacy’ inherited by communities from the pure science and applied science. The social science associated with water management in remote communities

44 | Western Canada Water | Summer 2013

NTWWA Operator Workshop

presents a multitude of challenges within administrative, finance and human resources. Any remote community, regardless of size, has the need for a fully funded, fully staffed and fully trained community administration, which includes the water, and wastewater system operations and operators. However, this fully functional scenario is seldom achieved, particularly the staffing or ‘human resources’ aspect. In this modern day and age, I do not think there is any disagreement on the importance of human resources in the success of any organization or facility. By definition, human resources is the set of individuals who make up the workforce of an organization, business sector or an economy. Any disagreement may come in the degree of importance, and the level of effort that an organization puts into its human resources. It was around the middle of the 1980s that human resources began to establish itself. It was realized that there was a need for the consideration of the workforce in all aspects of an organization or facility; and the need for communicating with, and educating

this workforce. In effect, the strategic direction of the organization needed to consider and reflect the people as the largest asset of the organization. Human resource issues may, in fact, be the most challenging aspect of water management in the north. People represent a very dynamic environment that has been plagued with a chronic lack of resources for hiring, training, and retaining. There is, however, a light at the end of the tunnel. A simple example of this light is the continuing and expanding success of the NTWWA conferences and the growing success of the Operator Workshop segment of the Conference. For the past two years, the Operator Workshop has been a two-day event, up from the previous one-day event – and this two-day format is now an anticipated and expected part of the overall Conference. As presented in the captioned conference mosaic in the last issue of Western Canadian Water, 37 operators attended the two-day Operator Workshop, with an even distribution of attendees from the Northwest Territories and Nunavut. Click here to return to Table of Contents

Summer 2013 CRYOFRONT Column