School Partnership Opens Opportunity for Trades Students

From left to right: Scott Doherty, Executive Assistant to Unifor’s National President; Carol Lapointe, Mill Manager at Kamloops; Bob Stephens, First Vice of Unifor Local 10B; and Alan Shaver, President and Vice-Chancellor of the Thompson Rivers University celebrate an agreement that will help young adults learn skills needed in the pulp and paper industry.

Our Kamloops Mill announced a collaborative effort in July that will address the company’s need for skilled employees and area students’ desire to learn valuable trades that will lead to fulfilling careers.

Domtar, along with Unifor Local 10B, a division of Canada’s largest private-sector union, and Thompson Rivers University’s School of Trades and Technology agreed to work together to develop a new generation of tradepeople in this area of British Columbia.

It’s an important initiative for the company. A significant portion of the highly skilled employees in the Pulp and Paper division are, or soon will be, eligible for retirement, and in 2014, almost half of our employees were at least 50 years old.

This educational partnership will help students explore trades careers with Domtar and other industrial companies, even giving the school’s foundation trades program students a chance to gain hands-on experience at the mill. The school is only a five-minute drive to the mill, so proximity is a huge asset to this partnership, where students can see the theory and skills they’ve learned in the classroom applied in a manufacturing environment.

“For Domtar to continue to be an employer of choice we need to create an environment where current and prospective employees can realize their career aspirations by learning and applying new skills,” said Carol Lapointe, Mill Manager at Kamloops.

At the mill, students will experience aspects of training not available in the university. They also will potentially gain some of the hours needed to be certified in a particular trade.

The agreement will provide financial support in the manner of bursaries to students, and Domtar will continue to supply surplus equipment to the trades program.

“(The university’s) first strategic priority is to ensure the academic and career success of our students. Our long-standing relationship with Domtar has always helped us in this task. Today that partnership is expanded in a visionary and innovative way. Unifor 10B and Domtar have literally opened their doors to new and exciting opportunities for students and faculty,” said Thompson Rivers University President and Vice Chancellor Alan Shaver.

“We are hiring the next generation of manufacturers,” said Tim Healey, Vice President of Human Resources for the Pulp and Paper division. “We understand that manufacturing may not always be top of mind for new entrants into the workforce. However, we are showing young people that there are great opportunities in modern manufacturing today.”

The Kamloops partnership is similar to one the company has in Kingsport, Tennessee, and supports other recruitment efforts to attract the next generation of line operators, salespeople, managers, engineers and more to Domtar.