The Minnesota Job Skills Partnership (MJSP) has awarded a $350,000 grant to Fond du Lac Tribal and Community College to develop an in-house training system for employees of Sappi Fine Paper in Cloquet and to teach them how to use it. The three-year project will support entry-level, retraining, and advanced training for 560 employees at the paper mill, the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development announced during a partnership signing agreement ceremony held at Sappi’s Cloquet Mill on Thursday, January 28.
The proposed Knowledge Management and Training System will house Sappi’s impressive knowledge base in a way that is accessible and actionable for all employees. The computerized, user-friendly system will be used to identify, document, and transfer employees’ knowledge so that critical information can be shared, and unique, experiential information can be passed on from retiring generations of workers to new ones.
It will also provide self-directed training and assist in succession planning and job task certifications as well as carry the potential to be applied to Sappi locations across the country.
“We are honored to be a recipient of the 2016 Minnesota Job Skills Partnership grant,” said Mike Schultz, Managing Director, Sappi Cloquet Mill. “The new Knowledge Management and Training System will guarantee that our current and future employees in Minnesota will have the opportunity to continually improve their work and advance their careers using the hard-earned industry intelligence from our tenured, and soon to be retired, employees.”
“Our aging workforce’s experiential knowledge is valuable, and with the generous support of Fond du Lac Tribal and Community College, this solution will allow us to become an even bigger part of the Minnesota community,” said Schultz. “We look forward to continued growth and education opportunities in Cloquet.”
Once trained to use the system, employees will have digital access to the technical information and documents needed to perform their jobs, which is vital information that often disappears when experienced, senior-level staff retire. 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 the system, employees will be interviewed and demonstrate what they have learned. Based on the interviews, Sappi will identify remaining skills gaps and work with Fond du Lac Tribal and Community College on future training.
“We have had several successful education and training partnerships between the college and Sappi in previous years, and I look forward to another positive result with this new project,” said Larry Anderson, president of Fond du Lac Tribal and Community College. “This partnership and initiative is going to yield great things for Sappi and the communities we serve.”
The grant won favor with the MJSP Board by aligning with the MJSP mission to strategically connect businesses and educational institutions to train or retrain workers, expand work opportunities, and keep high-quality jobs in the state. The MJSP provides training grants of up to $400,000 to educational institutions that partner with businesses to develop new-job training or retraining for existing employees.
“This grant makes it possible for Sappi to get their entry-level workforce onboard quickly, to provide retraining for seasoned workers, and to offer a path for employees to progress in their paper industry careers,” said DEED Commissioner Katie Clark Sieben. “In addition, Fond du Lac Tribal and Community College will have the ability to customize the Knowledge Management and Training System for use by other manufacturers in the region.”
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 fully developed, Fond du Lac Tribal and Community College will have full rights to duplicate and customize the framework to fit the needs of other manufacturers and businesses in the community. Sappi will utilize the cameras and editing equipment in the new digital recording studio at Fond du Lac Tribal and Community College to ensure the knowledge capture system is consistently updated and functioning properly.
The development of the program will begin with individual interviews with each of the Cloquet Mill’s 538 hourly employees. Located on the St. Louis River, the Cloquet Mill produces Sappi’s coated fine paper brands McCoy, Opus, and Flo, and Specialised Cellulose.
For more information on the grant project, contact Fond du Lac Tribal and Community College Customized Training Director Jeannie Kermeen at 218-879-0741.

MJSP Grant Signing 2016

MJSP Grant Signing 2016

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