The Next Workforce

By Thad Plumley

I’ve always loved to read. Come to my house and there’s always a stack of books that serve as a preview of my weekends.

My up next stack is a mix of fiction and nonfiction which usually translates to a mix of thrillers and biographies.

Books are also how I like to learn. I’m sure it is somewhat related to age, but I’m wired in my thinking that learning new skills involves reading.

Young people must think I’m a dinosaur. After all, my reading doesn’t even involve tablets. It involves actual books with actual paper and actual ink. Call me crazy, but I’ve never found a Kindle with that new book smell.

Now compare my antiquated ways to young people entering the workforce today. They’ve grown up in a digital world and were students in the pandemic. This means they’ve learned online, a mix of videos, and other high-level digital platforms.

Today’s world is one where TikTok has more than a billion users—and a maximum video length of three minutes. Yes, three minutes. I can’t even dent a chapter of a murder mystery in that time.

TikTok began allowing videos up to 10 minutes in 2022, but quietly reduced the maximum length back to three minutes this year. In an interview with an industry publication, representatives of TikTok said more than 50% of their users said videos more than one minute were “stressful.”

Feel old yet?

This means as you hire your next employees your training tools must be suited to engage them, teach them, and maximize their skills. Obviously, nothing beats a veteran providing hands-on education behind a rig, but it’s going to take more than that and a copy of Groundwater & Wells, Third Edition.

The National Ground Water Association hosted a workforce development webinar this summer as it knows this will be an issue for the coming years. In fact, it has catered many of its newest offerings to the next workforce generation.

The NGWA Learning Center and Drilling Basics Online are ideal tools for your next hiring wave.

The NGWA Learning Center features hundreds of online learning opportunities, many of which are recorded sessions from live events as well as on-demand courses and product training from manufacturers.

Drilling Basics Online is a series of online training courses created in partnership with Oklahoma State University. Topics include geology, rig safety, and drilling methods.

I also encourage you to regularly head to Water Well Journal’s website as we add multiple video interviews with industry experts each month to supplement the magazine’s featured articles and columns.

Everyone learns differently. For every old schooler with shelves of books like me, there are people learning hydrogeology and fluid mechanics on an iPad right now.

The next workforce generation is here, and it is ready to work for you. You just have to be ready for it.


Thad Plumley is the editor of WWJ and the director of publications for the National Ground Water Association. He is currently the secretary for the AM&P Network Associations Council Advisory Board. The AM&P Network is a national association for publishing professionals.. He can be reached at tplumley@ngwa.org, or (800) 551-7379, ext. 1594.

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