By Matt Luna, SunGlacier
An artist can find inspiration in places where science is afraid to go, just as the freshness of young people’s approach to solving environmental problems can lead to solutions that require more courage to even consider. A program in the Netherlands is targeting young mainly technical professionals – and using an artist – to increase interest in water sector careers and help ensure enough human resources to combat future dilemmas in world water issues.
The National Water Traineeship brings together new university graduates working for government agencies and private organizations in the water sector, and provides them with opportunities over the two-year course to work with other newcomers in their field. The trainees build leadership and project management skills as they work across organizations to find solutions to water issues in the country and around the world.
One recent joint project aimed to find a way to increase the flow of usable water in Senegal. The trainee team designed a proposal to construct polders regulating water flow, and then developed communications for the local population to learn how to use the system. Exercises like this can provide practical experience, build professional networks, and ultimately contribute to the overall future success of organizations of the water sector. With a projected shortage of 20,000 professionals working in the water sector by 2020, it’s easy to see the importance of this program.
Enter the artist.
Ap Verheggen accepted an invitation this week to become an ambassador for the traineeship program. “We asked Ap to become an ambassador because he has a positive, different way of looking for solutions to problems, as he has demonstrated with the creation of his SunGlacier project,” said Naomi Timmer, Deputy Project Leader for the traineeship. As a program ambassador, Ap will spend time with the young members to help open their minds to think of innovative approaches that can be refined through research and then implemented for real-world tests. “We want the trainees to be able to dream to change the world – to be able to believe in the unbelievable – in finding real solutions to help people,” Naomi said.
“It’s an honor to be asked to become an ambassador for such a bright initiative as this water traineeship,” said Ap, “The program is already successful, and after seeing the people involved who are coming from senior advising positions in the government and other organizations, it’s convincing that the support is there.” Ap also likes the idea of even more young people combining their ideas and energy. “They are working on their projects, and I will try to inspire them by telling them how I deal with my projects – not only out of the box, but out of this world.” said Ap.
Naomi also emphasized Ap’s potential of attracting more interest to the water-sector technical field: “Ap is a great communicator and can get across a message in unique ways to draw more attention to the purpose. He’s a great person to have on the team.”
Photo from left: Raimond Hafkenscheid (advisor), Ap Verheggen (ambassador), Naomi Timmer (deputy project leader), Gerard Doornbos (ambassador), Helen van Zundert (project leader), Sven Asijee (ambassador) Jaap Feil (director) Not shown in photo: Sybe Schaap (ambassador)
Visit www.nationaalwatertraineeship.nl to learn more about the program.