Moose Lake Star Gazette - Serving Carlton and Pine Counties Since 1895

By Lois E. Johnson
Moose Lake Star Gazette 

FDLTCC, Sappi partner on $350,000 job skills grant

 

Lois E. Johnson

Mike Schultz of Sappi, Dr. Larry Anderson of Fond du Lac Tribal & Community College and Paul Moe of the Minnesota Job Skills Partnership Program shake hands after signing the grant document.

A $350,000 Minnesota Job Skills Partnership grant was signed by Dr. Larry Anderson of the Fond du Lac Tribal and Community College and Mike Shultz, the managing director of Sappi Fine Paper in Cloquet on Thursday, January 28.

The grant will provide funding to develop an in-house training system for employees of Sappi Fine Paper in Cloquet, it was stated on a press release. The three-year project will support entry-level, retraining and advanced training for 560 employees at the paper mill.

"This will make a big difference to the Cloquet mill," said Shultz. "It's a knowledge retention system. We used to have 3 percent of employees that retired, now we have 10 percent. The traditional training used to be adequate to replace that amount of knowledge that left when people retired, but now, the program needs to be enhanced. We needed to take action so it wouldn't happen to us."

Deece Hannigan, the vice president of the Coated and Packaging Business for Sappi North America, stated, "We celebrate this grant. It is really going to make a big difference in the long term for the future of this mill.

"The pulp and paper industry is a global business. This will allow Sappi to continue to compete in the global marketplace. We are not only investing in equipment, we are investing in people.This grant will allow us to build the knowledge base so new employees can get on track."

Paul Moe, the director of the Minnesota Job Skills Partnership Program from the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development, stated: "Thanks go to Rep. Mary Murphy. We wouldn't have the Minnesota Job Skills Partnership Program without her. It has been in place for 33 years. It was started under the Perpich administration."

"The Job Skills partnership grant has worked with thousands of Minnesota employees. Eighty percent of our grants go to MNSCUE institutions. That creates perfect equality through training. We build courses and those are certified through these grants. This provides skill development and improvement of Minnesota workers. For every dollar that the state of Minnesota puts in, the corporation is required to put in a dollar."

Anderson, the president of Fond du Lac Tribal and Community College, spoke about the college's role in the area.

"We are here to help Sappi and all businesses in town," he said. "We have a great relationship with Sappi. We want to let you know that we want to be part of what you are doing and appreciate your help with the grant."

According to the press release, Fond du Lac Tribal and Community College will work with Advanced Minnesota, a consortium of five custom training and continuing education programs in northeast Minnesota, to develop the Knowledge Management and Training System.

Once trained to use the system, employees will have access to the technical information and documents needed to perform their jobs, information that often disappears when experienced, senior-level staff retires. Employees will also complete job task certification training modules needed for career advancement.

The system will accommodate different learning styles, including written, audio, video and diagrams, and will be accessible via computer stations and handheld tablets.

After using this system, employees will be interviewed and demonstrate what they have learned. Based on the interviews, Sappi will identify remaining skills gaps and work with FDLTCC on future training.

Sappi North America, headquartered in Boston, is the leading producer and supplier of coated fine paper, pulp and release paper in the United States. Sappi Fine Paper's Cloquet Mill employs 698 workers.

 

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