press release - paper mills partnership

Public Relations | Press Releases


Release date 12-20-12


KVCC partners with industry to respond to anticipated worker shortage in Maine paper mills


Fairfield ME – Kennebec Valley Community College (KVCC) is partnering with Maine paper mills in a coordinated effort to meet the demand for additional employees in the industry as current workers reach retirement age.


The mills are seeking a steady source of workers who are well prepared for pulp and papermaking jobs, and have turned to KVCC – which offers the only one-year Certificate and two-year Pulp and Paper Technology Associate of Applied Science Degree programs in the Northeast – to meet the demand.


The effort will include financial incentives from both KVCC and the industry to students enrolling in an introductory pulp and paper course beginning January 21, 2013. Qualified students will be able to take this online course at no cost, and the $344 tuition together with $101 in text book costs will be waived. Course enrollment will be limited to 30 students, and student selection will be at the discretion of KVCC.


A special open house on Saturday, January 12, 2013 at the KVCC campus has also been scheduled as part of the effort. The 10:30 a.m. event in Carter Hall will offer prospective students the chance to meet with potential employers and KVCC faculty, explore scholarship and internship opportunities with local paper companies, consider career options in the pulp and paper industry, and talk to College Admissions and Financial Aid staff.


Registration for the introductory pulp and paper course will take place at the open house.


While opportunities with pulp and paper companies throughout Maine exist, the companies participating in the open house and supporting the introductory course include UPM Madison, Madison; SAPPI Fine Paper, Skowhegan; and Verso Paper Corp. Androscoggin Mill.


John Williams, President of the Maine Pulp and Paper Association reports, “Maine is the second leading papermaking state by volume, producing more paper than any state other than Wisconsin. Maine’s paper production has consistently increased since 1900, and in recent years Maine has produced more paper than ever before. To remain competitive, Maine mills must attract workers with the skills and knowledge to operate highly complex equipment and processes. New hires will be expected to perform at high levels and assume advanced responsibilities within a short time span. The Pulp & Paper Technology Program at Kennebec Valley Community College is a vital resource for providing the training needed for these new workers.”


Approximately 7,300 people in Maine were directly employed in pulp and paper manufacturing as of December 2011, earning an average annual salary of more than $64,000, and excellent benefits, Williams said.


Like many sectors of the economy, Maine’s paper industry is comprised of an aging workforce. Within the next 10 years approximately 40% of the workforce will be over the age of 60. The average age for employees at many mills in Maine is late 40s to early 50s, Williams said.


KVCC has enjoyed a strong working relationship with Maine’s pulp and paper industry for many years, and the current partnership is only the latest evidence of the shared commitment between Maine’s industry and the College, KVCC President Barbara Woodlee said.


“We appreciate the support of our industry partners in this joint effort to provide a technically advanced workforce able to compete in today’s global paper market,” KVCC President Barbara Woodlee said. “We would not be able to provide this important program to support the industry and supply so many excellent job opportunities to our students without this help from our partners.”


The introductory course that will be provided on a special basis starting this January will be PPT111, Introduction to Pulp and Paper Technology. This is the foundational course for all nine of the technology courses included in the AAS Degree Pulp and Paper Technology Program, and provides an overview of pulp and papermaking from the forest to the shipping dock.


Students taking the introductory course will develop an understanding of the process flow in pulp and paper mills as well as a specific understanding of what happens in each of these unit operations. Students satisfactorily completing the course and who apply for admission into the Pulp and Paper Program for the fall semester, 2013 will enjoy a reduced course load. Industry partners have committed to provide at least two mill tours during the time the course is being offered to students taking this course (between January 21 and May 11, 2013).


Kennebec Valley Community College is one of seven community colleges in Maine. KVCC prepares full-time and part-time students to enter the job market, to transfer to colleges and universities, and to achieve their professional and personal goals.  Programs and services support the economic growth of the community in response to changing needs.


In 2011 and again in 2012, KVCC was named one of the top community colleges in the nation by the Aspen Institute, placing in the top 10 percent of two-year colleges based on student success rates.


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