Stakeholder meetings are underway for a comprehensive workforce development study of Wisconsin’s papermaking industry. The research, funded by the WiSys Ignite! Program, is a collaborative effort between the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh’s Center for Customized Research and Services and the Wisconsin Paper Council.
The first stakeholder meeting was held on June 24 at UWO’s Sage Hall. Executives from the region’s paper industry came together to discuss workforce, sustainability and innovation issues the industry faces and possible solutions.
The event began with a welcome from UWO Chancellor Andrew Leavitt, followed by a summary of the project and progress thus far by Jeff Sachse, CCRS interim director, and Stacey Johnson, the Wisconsin Paper Council’s vice president of forestry, transportation and workforce relations.
The stakeholder group also took part in a facilitated conversation concerning their challenges and insights in the paper industry. Important insights and feedback from the first stakeholder meeting will be included in a final report in the fall.
“The first stakeholder session confirmed much of our research regarding the importance of engaging students and building awareness of the opportunities and sustainability efforts throughout the industry,” Sachse said.
Two additional stakeholder meetings will take place this summer: Aug. 31 hosted at MidState Technical College in Steven’s Point; and Sept. 14 hosted at Packaging Corporation of America in Tomahawk.
“Our next two listening sessions will take us to other industry hubs and learn about the unique challenges faced by companies and our education partners in central and northern Wisconsin. This is especially important since we know that the paper industry needs to speak with a statewide voice,” Sachse said.
In addition to the stakeholder meetings, the research project also involves collecting data from the paper industry about workforce challenges. Wisconsin companies in the paper industry and the supply chain are encouraged to take the survey at http://uwo.sh/wpc-survey.