During a visit I had to a mill, when I asked the Mill Manager what was the biggest challenge they faced at that mill, he responded by saying that it was hard to find college graduates who were willing to work in a mill.
Mills should take a proactive approach in recruiting college graduates. This could be started by giving more support to colleges and universities with chemical, and paper science engineering programs. By supporting these colleges and universities, and taking an active role in their programs, a mill will increase their visibility to students, as well as fostering a win-win connection between the mill and academic institutions.
I visited Miami University, in Oxford, Ohio a few months ago, and the paper science engineering students I talked to mentioned that the internships they were undertaking were very helpful for them to know whether or not a specific company was a good fit for them after college. One of the students I talked to had a job lined up after she graduated at the mill she interned at. If a mill is not actively offering internships to college students, it should.
More efforts need to be made regarding the recruitment of high school students looking to enter into an engineering program. A partnership between mills and academic institutions could expand these recruitment efforts. For instance, Miami University has an annual "Engineers Week." I am certain that other academic institutions have similar programs. More visibility from mills during these events is needed.
It's never too early to think about the future of our industry.
Helen Roush is Vice President, Communications Sciences at Paperitalo Publications. She can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.