Fond du Lac Tribal and Community College Receives Minnesota Job Skills Grant

Feb 1st, 2016 | By | Category: Online TC News, Tribal College News, Web Exclusive

From left, Mike Schultz of Sappi Fine Paper, Larry Anderson of FDLTCC, and Paul Moe of Minnesota Job Skills Partnership.

The Minnesota Job Skills Partnership (MJSP) has awarded a $350,000 grant to Fond du Lac Tribal and Community College (FDLTCC) to develop an in-house training system for employees of Sappi Fine Paper in Cloquet. 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.

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 utilized to identify, document, and transfer employees’ knowledge so that critical information can be shared. Such 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. Moreover, it has 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,” says Mike Schultz, managing director at the Sappi Cloquet Mill. “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.”

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 FDLTCC 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,” says Larry Anderson, president of FDLTCC. “This partnership and initiative is going to yield great things for Sappi and the communities we serve.”

The grant won favor with the Minnesota Job Skills Partnership board by aligning with their mission to strategically connect businesses and educational institutions to train or retrain workers, expand work opportunities, and keep high-quality jobs in the state. Minnesota Job Skills Partnerhsip 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.

FDLTCC 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, the 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 FDLTCC to ensure the knowledge capture system is consistently updated and functioning properly.

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