Reducing cost and waste while improving workforce efficiency are the aims of a training program Australian Paper has developed to sustain its business in the Latrobe Valley.
Fifteen workers from the Maryvale Mill graduated from the recently-developed Lean Manufacturing Leaders Program on Thursday morning, the first group to take part in the 12 to 18 month initiative.
The program was established as part of the company's strategic plan, enabling the graduates to walk away with Certificate IVs in Process Manufacturing and in Process Plant Technology.
Australian Paper human resources general manager Mark Nelson said the goal was "to make a difference in the way we had trained and developed our workforce".
"We're hoping people enjoy going to work more," Mr Nelson said.
"They have a new set of skills they can use in the workplace and they will see their work in a different way to how they previously saw it.
"Instead of accepting the way we previously do things, they will look at it and say there are better ways to do that."
Participants worked both in the classroom and on the job to complete a number of projects on the ground at Maryvale.
These projects were all related to cost reduction, process efficiencies and waste management, such as ensuring blades used to cut paper had a longer life.
Mr Nelson said, with a significant number of the workforce to complete the training, it was hoped employees would understand efficiency was critical in competing against cheap overseas imports.
A second group is set to graduate in about eight weeks' time, with a third lot to start the program midway through this year.