Postsecondary Educational Needs of the Wood Products Industry in the US Northern Great Lakes Region
The main purpose of this study was to identify the educational needs of forest products industries in the Northern Great Lakes region of the US and the gaps with existing postsecondary educational opportunities in the same region. A combination of interviews with educational program representatives and a survey of industry in the mentioned region was used to meet the study’s objectives. Eighteen currently active postsecondary educational programs with degrees specific to the forest products industry were identified, and representatives of 13 were interviewed for this study. In the second phase of the study, 59 forest product companies in the region were surveyed to identify their educational needs and a weighted discrepancy score was calculated to measure the educational needs for specific competencies. Most educational programs expect steady to slightly increasing student numbers during the next 5 yr. “Advisory committees” was the most commonly cited method to gather industry needs. Schools identified advanced manufacturing skills as an important industry need along with sustainability and energy efficiency. From the industry survey, a list of 21 specific competencies in six functional areas with the most need of addressing is provided, including log and lumber grading, customer relationship management, basic computer skills, quality control and improvement, lumber drying, and safety, among others. Primary processing related skills were found to be in particular need of attention by educational programs in the region. Industries reported having the most difficulty finding employees with the proper education for shop floor and production management positions.
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