Utilities (water, gas, electricity) sector

Utilities (water, electricity and gas) are essential services that play a vital role in economic and social development. Quality utilities are a prerequisite for effective poverty eradication. Governments are ultimately responsible for ensuring reliable universal access of service under accountable regulatory frameworks. Increased competition in the utilities sectors in recent years has entailed changes in regulatory frameworks and ownership structures of enterprises, in addition to business diversification. These have impacted job security and working conditions in the sector. Adequate staffing levels and training in the use of new technologies are important for ensuring efficiency and safety in the workplace.

Social dialogue plays a significant role in developing joint strategies by the social partners to improve utility services, with the common goal of extending access to services to all communities, enhancing efficiency of delivery and reviewing tariffs and other sources of income collection. One of the key issues in the Utilities sector is the need to respect international conventions protecting freedom of association and collective bargaining and to avoid breakdowns in the provision of utilities where possible.

The average age of workers in the sector is increasing in a number of countries and there is a severe gender imbalance in some occupations, which presents challenges for human resource planning by employers. Making employment in the sector accessible and attractive to young men and women can be a means to address the recruiting challenges of replacing an ageing workforce. In addition, establishing national or sector specific training programmes, and investing in workers through apprenticeships and lifelong learning mechanisms can be instrumental in meeting the demands of changing skills needs of the industry.


  1. Event

    Water and job opportunities: a critical nexus for growth

    28 August 2016, Stockholm

    Water and job creation are linked bi-directionally: the WASH sub-sector generates a considerable volume of varied jobs; the number of functions required for ecosystem management increases as the circular economy accelerates; millions of farmers’ livelihoods depend on access to irrigation water; industrial water risks impact workers’ job security.

  1. Event

    World Water Day 2016

    22 March 2016, Geneva

    Organized by UN-Water, World Water Day 2016 will convene under the theme, 'Water and Jobs,' in partnership with the International Labour Organization (ILO).

  2. Audio

    Parallel Session on Water and Jobs at the 4th Conference on Regulating for Decent Work

    8 July 2015, Geneva

    In this panel presentation, UN-Water CTA Federico Properzi; Prof. Jayati Ghosh from the Jawaharlal Nehru University; Carlos Carrión-Crespo from the Sectoral Policies Department; Marc van Inshoot from the Employment-Intensive Investment Programme; and Naoko Otobe from the Employment Policy Department discussed topics related to World Water Day 2016, related to Water and Jobs.

  3. Spotlight on water and jobs

    16 May 2014, Geneva

  4. Panel discussion

    World Water Week: Community ownership of water resources

    1-6 September 2013, Stockholm

  5. Action Programme on Strengthening Social Dialogue in the Utilities Sector

  6. Action Programme on Strengthening Social Dialogue in the Water Utilities Sector - the Philippines

  7. Sector Note – Utilities sector

  8. SECTOR Notes: Impact of the Global Economic Recession On the Utilities Sector