25 Oct Wisconsin to train tech-savvy paper industry with share of $5 million grant
Mid-State Technical College, headquartered in Wisconsin Rapids, will lead an interstate effort to train workers in the paper and pulp industries, Wisconsin Governor Jim Doyle has announced.
The college will share a $5 million grant from the National Science Foundation, some of which will fund a new technology center on the Wisconsin Rapids campus. The money will also help launch a national training network to give the paper and pulp industry a technologically advanced workforce.
The NSF’s Advanced Technical Education program is funding the grant. The program focuses on technology-based undergraduate and post-secondary education at two-year colleges. It made an estimated $40 million in grants available this year.
“We’re hoping that [the center] is going to be a training ground for people who want to work in this industry,” said Pat Schillinger, president of the Wisconsin Paper Council.
“Today’s paper machines are all run by computers,” he said. “They’re of a highly technical nature, and you can’t just have a high-school degree to walk into a paper mill and run these machines anymore.”
Other processes requiring advanced knowledge are chemical engineering for converting the pulp into paper, recycling, and environmental issues revolving around the safety and health of the workers. Prospective employees will go through the center to receive technical training, so that when they come back to be evaluated for a position they will have more experience.
“The skill level changes in industry,” said John Clark, president of the Mid-State Technical College. “We’re working closely to help workers move past certification, to laureate level and beyond.”
Les Chappell is a staff writer for WTN and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Jason Stitt contributed research and writing.