FAIRFIELD, Maine (NEWS CENTER) -- A majority of the work force that drive's Maine's paper industry is close to retirement, but one college is working to provide a solution.
Maine is the second leading paper making state by volume, according to the Maine Pulp and Paper Association. That industry is comprised mostly of baby boomer's, of which 40% of will be over the age of 60 within the next 10 years. It's because of that that Kennebec Valley Community College (KVCC) is partnering with Maine paper mills in a coordinated effort to meet the demand of additional employees.
"It's a complete package that does a very good job of supporting our partners in the pulp and paper industry," said the programs coordinator Monty Henderson.
According to Henderson the KVCC program is the only one in New England that offers a two year degree in Pulp and Paper Technology.
Several prospective students visited the college Saturday to sign up for the program as well as talk with representatives from three different Maine mills about the jobs they offer. Michael Luciano with Verso Paper's Androscoggin Mill says that the skills students come away with from KVCC are exactly the ones he looks for to replace the workers that are getting ready to retire.
"These are the folks we want to look at first," said Luciano. "To grow our work force and have a technologically advanced work force that gives us the advantage."
A total of 37 people signed up for the program that will begin January 21st. Qualified students will be able to do the course online 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.
To find out more on how you can apply, you visit their website www.kvcc.me.edu.