Thursday, July 19, 2007

Maine: Paper Industry Facing Aging Workforce

According to a story by Colin Hickey for the Kennebec, Maine, Morning Sentinel, paper company executives are losing sleep contemplating that the industry--the largest manufacturing sector in Maine--will have 2,200 workers turn 63 within the next 10 years. "They know paper does not get produced without skilled people."

Unlike some other industries that may be facing such issues, the paper industry's problems are compounded because of perceptions that it is a dying industry:
[Mike] Barden of the Pulp & Paper Association acknowledges that this is the central question the industry faces.

"It is still that public perception (of a dying industry)," he said. "It is trying to overcome that. The reality is I just don't see the industry going away. I think there will always be an industry here."

Bill Cohen of Verso Paper, which has mills in Bucksport and Jay, confirms that the paper industry faces a labor challenge.

"It is harder to recruit, because of the perception that it is a dying industry," he said. "That is one thing we have to overcome. We are not dying; we are continuing to reshape."
Hickey reports on efforts by the industry to raise enrollments in Maine programs that are the principle sources for new recruits.

Source: Kennebec Morning Sentinel "Graying workforce a problem for paper industry" (July 15, 2007)

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