Pulp & Paper Canada
December 31, 1998
By Pulp & Paper Canada
In 1996, the mill decided to completely revamp its operations training programs. The effort will last until 2000. There are three stages to the training: apprentice guides, exercise books and training manuals. The manuals contain a complete job description, how to do the job safely and what the operator needs to know and understand to do the job properly. The manuals, prepared in 1997, are heavy on the practical side. Louis Le Blanc, director of human resources, said the manuals are designed to serve as a motivational tool as well, to let the operators know they are using their brains as well as brawn. "They really go from A to Z."

Although a training consultant was hired for the first year, the bulk of the work and writing has been done in-house through the efforts of a foreman and operator who were chosen to lead the project. Those chosen to write the manuals are expected to be working on it about 35 weeks in the next year. When the manuals are complete, operators should have all the knowledge they need. All regular employees receive the two-day courses. Training for new employees varies but is longer, lasting months in some cases. This is important because there are still many employees who joined the mill when it opened and, therefore, there will be many retirements in the near future. The mill cannot afford to rely on hands-on experience only. As Le Blanc said, every time information is passed down, some is lost. "These manuals will give operators the tools necessary for the next 20 years."

There is a standard training process for all production employees. In the end, the operators should understand what their role is in relation to the rest of the mill processes. "They will understand the equipment," Le Blanc added, "what it does and the processes. Lots of training is lost in mills because it is not well structured. This program will make it easier for the foreman to see if employees understand their jobs."

Digester crews were the first employees targeted for the new program because this is where the need was felt to be most pressing.

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