KVCC program to address millworker shortage

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FAIRFIELD — Kennebec Valley Community College 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 Jan. 21. Qualified students will be able to take this online course at no cost, and the $344 tuition together with $101 in textbook 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, Jan. 12, 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.

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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, Jay.

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 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.

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