FAIRFIELD, Maine — Kennebec Valley Community College and Maine’s paper industry are teaming up to ensure the state’s paper mills have enough skilled workers as the industry’s current workforce reaches retirement age.
The effort will involve offering free tuition and textbooks to 30 qualified students who take an introductory course in pulp and paper-making technology. Tuition for the online course and textbook costs equal about $445, according to a release from the school.
KVCC says it is the only college in the Northeast offering a one-year certificate and a two-year pulp and paper technology associate of applied science degree program.
The introductory course that is part of the effort is the foundation of all nine courses in KVCC’s pulp and paper degree program.
As of December 2011, Maine’s pulp and paper industry employed approximately 7,300 people who earned an average annual salary of more than $64,000, according to John Williams, executive director of the Maine Pulp & Paper Association.
Within the next 10 years, however, roughly 40 percent of those workers will be more than 60 years old, Williams said.
“To remain competitive, Maine mills must attract workers with the skills and knowledge to operate highly complex equipment and processes,” Williams said in a statement. “The Pulp & Paper Technology Program at Kennebec Valley Community College is a vital resource for providing the training needed for these new workers.”
The school will have an open house at 10:30 a.m. Saturday, Jan. 12, 2013, at its campus in Fairfield. The event will offer students the ability to meet with KVCC faculty and staff, and employers in the paper industry.
Registration for the introductory course will take place at the open house.
Companies participating in the open house and supporting the introductory course are the UPM mill in Madison; Sappi Fine Paper in Skowhegan; and Verso Paper’s Androscoggin Mill.
“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 in a statement. “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.”
Students who successfully complete the introductory course will be encouraged to apply for admission into KVCC’s pulp and paper technology program in the 2013 fall semester.