Wisconsin Paper Industry Study

UW Oshkosh Comprehensive Workforce Development Study of Wisconsin’s Papermaking Industry


The project is a collaborative effort between UW-Oshkosh’s Center for Customized Research and Services (CCRS) and the Wisconsin Paper Council (WPC).  This public/private partnership has been awarded a $50,000 WiSys’s Ignite! Applied Research program grant to undertake comprehensive analysis of the workforce, innovation, and sustainability challenges and future needs of the state’s paper industry. This exciting project will include comprehensive stakeholder feedback, company and industry analyses, interactive strategy sessions and public progress updates. The study is estimated to encompass an eleven-month timeframe.


The papermaking industry, which includes numerous business sectors and supply chain partners, has a long, rich history of providing economic opportunities for Wisconsin workers. These economic engines have experienced a great deal of diversification over the past few years to meet the challenges of an ever-changing world marketplace.  However, finding, training and retaining highly skilled workers is a serious challenge for this industry. The median worker’s age is 47.8 years and many industry employees are expecting to retire in the next decade.

In anticipation of a changing workforce, this study will utilize a diverse set of individuals and organizations to identify current industry challenges and forecast workforce trends.  Another goal of the project will be to debunk false narratives of the overall industry (i.e. papermaking jobs are low-tech, the industry is not environmentally conscious, and this business sector is fading away).  The project will also identify and recommend policies and initiatives that papermakers might use to address their workforce needs as well as promote the tremendous opportunities the paper industry provides.

The project will also consider the challenges that the industry faces in leading global innovation and sustainability efforts. This is essential to maintain the industry’s leading position for decades to come.

The final product will be presented to both state and federal policymakers in order to develop common-sense, bipartisan policy solutions to assist this industry in retaining and creating jobs in order to remain the number one in papermaking production in the United States. 


The project scope includes a series of comprehensive industry surveys, the convening of industry expert panels, student-directed innovation and sustainability assessments and several stakeholder sessions. In addition, the project scope will continue to adapt to the challenges of COVID-19 by convening both small group and industrywide virtual listening sessions, which will engage experts from across UW Oshkosh as well.


Project Executive Committee:

  • The Executive/Project Committee will provide general oversight and direction of the study.

Workforce Committee:

  • This committee will focus on the current workforce needs of the industry. They will explore the challenges at all levels of the supply chain. They will identify current and short-term industry needs and possible solutions.

Innovation and Sustainability Committee:

  • This committee will focus on the trends currently underway in the paper industry and analyze the impacts they will have on the future workforce needs. They will identify long-term trends and develop best practices to identifying and developing workforce responses.



For more information about or to get involved in this comprehensive workforce development study of Wisconsin’s papermaking industry please contact any of the following project coordinators:

Mr. Scott Suder
Wisconsin Paper Council
Email: suder@wipaper.org
Phone: (608) 467-6025

Center for Customized Research and Services
UW Oshkosh
Email: ccrs@uwosh.edu 
Phone: (920) 424-0311 (O)

Carrie Rule
UW Oshkosh
Email: rulec66@uwosh.edu
Phone: (920) 424-2367 (M)