Why train­ing and de­vel­op­ing staff is last on the list for many em­ploy­ers in the for­est and tim­ber In­dus­try

Australasian Timber - - LEARNING - By June Dun­leavy Gen­eral Man­ager, TABMA Train­ing

So you have just em­ployed a new worker in your busi­ness. Your goal as the em­ployer is to get them to be as pro­duc­tive as pos­si­ble in the least amount of time. Typ­i­cally, no mat­ter what the job role is, you will most likely put them with an ex­pe­ri­enced worker and give them a few days train­ing to make sure that they can do the job cor­rectly, which val­i­dates your de­ci­sion to put them on in the first place.

Sound fa­mil­iar?

Most likely the new worker will learn on the job, but in re­al­ity it will take twice as long to get them up to speed be­cause of­ten the ini­tial train­ing is ad hoc, dis­jointed and car­ried out by some­one who is pos­si­bly too busy to spend much time with the new worker and train them prop­erly in the first place.

But is the above sce­nario good enough these days?

Is it typ­i­cal for most small to medium busi­nesses in our in­dus­try?

Based on our ex­pe­ri­ence, we would ar­gue that it is all too com­mon prac­tice. Most em­ploy­ers that don’t have a struc­tured ap­proach to train­ing and de­vel­op­ment in place don’t see the value or the need or sim­ply don’t make the time to ad­e­quately train both new and ex­ist­ing work­ers.

There are ex­cep­tions to the rule of course. TABMA mem­bers such as 5 Star Tim­bers, Ver­sace, Hard­ware and Gen­eral and Hud­sons clearly see the need and value in ef­fec­tive train­ing for their staff. That’s why they in­vest both the time and money into mak­ing sure their work­ers are trained ef­fec­tively. And their staff re­ten­tion rates re­flect these good prac­tices!

What about the cur­rent work­force in the for­est and tim­ber in­dus­try?

In­dus­try sta­tis­tics sug­gest that over 2/3rds of the work­force are aged 50+ plus. In ad­di­tion, the For­est and Tim­ber in­dus­try suf­fers from ex­treme dif­fi­culty in at­tract­ing young peo­ple to em­ploy­ment as well as find­ing qual­i­fied peo­ple in spe­cial­ist ar­eas like the frame and truss sec­tor such as es­ti­ma­tors and de­tail­ers.

In re­sponse to se­vere short­ages in this sec­tor, most of the es­ti­mat­ing work has gone off­shore. Very few frame and truss plants are tak­ing the time to train up new es­ti­ma­tors/ de­tail­ers. In­stead, they rely on “head hunt­ing” from within the in­dus­try to at­tract the staff they need, of­ten find­ing this a dif­fi­cult, frus­trat­ing and time con­sum­ing ex­er­cise.

This sec­tor of our in­dus­try will con­tinue to strug­gle and more frame and truss plants will close as they no longer can com­pete with the larger plants who have fo­cussed on de­vel­op­ing their staff in this area like Laings Build­ing Sup­plies.

Work­place safety

Let’s turn our at­ten­tion to work­place health and safety.

Since 2011, Aus­tralia has had a more uni­fied ap­proach to na­tional work­place health and safety stan­dards and reg­u­la­tions (har­mon­i­sa­tion).

All busi­nesses (PCBU- per­son car­ry­ing out a busi­ness un­der­tak­ing) are re­quired to have a sys­tem­atic ap­proach to work­place health and safety in place and clear ev­i­dence that they have con­sulted with staff and proac­tively iden­tify hazards in the work­place, with risk man­age­ment con­trols in place to man­age such hazards.

To date, the re­spec­tive State work­place Health and safety reg­u­la­tors have adopted a much more con­sul­ta­tive ap­proach to com­pli­ance with work­place health and safety in the work­place.

This is all about to change. In Queens­land, due to in­ci­dents re­sult­ing in work­place deaths at the Ea­gle Farm Race­course and Dream­world last year, the Palaszczuk Gov­ern­ment has pro­gressed a re­view of the role of Work Health and Safety Queens­land and the pro­vi­sions of the WHS Act and is plan­ning to in­tro­duce a range of changes be­fore the State elec­tion.

Harsher penal­ties

The changes pro­posed in­clude harsher penal­ties for breaches of the leg­is­la­tion, changes in the of role of the reg­u­la­tor (WHSQ) to in­crease the fo­cus on com­pli­ance, and the in­tro­duc­tion of a new of­fence of “in­dus­trial man­slaugh­ter”.

Un­der the Gov­ern­ment’s pro­posed changes, the max­i­mum penalty for in­dus­trial man­slaugh­ter will be 20 years im­pris­on­ment for an in­di­vid­ual, and/or a max­i­mum fine of $10 mil­lion for a com­pany. In­dus­trial man­slaugh­ter refers to the work­place death of an em­ployee or mem­ber of the pub­lic as a re­sult of the neg­li­gent acts or omis­sions of an em­ployer.

The pro­posed changes ap­pear to re­flect a view within the Gov­ern­ment that em­ploy­ers have not done enough in re­la­tion to the safety of em­ploy­ees and the pub­lic. Any in­creased em­pha­sis on com­pli­ance and the ap­pli­ca­tion of penal­ties where breaches are iden­ti­fied is con­cern­ing and will re­quire all em­ploy­ers to en­sure a strong fo­cus on work­place safety, in­clud­ing the safe op­er­a­tion of ve­hi­cles, in­clud­ing fork­lifts.

Sawmilling in­dus­try re­view

In ad­di­tion, WHSQ has just com­pleted a a re­view of the sawmilling in­dus­try in Queens­land and has in­tro­duced a Code of Prac­tice for safe op­er­a­tions in this in­dus­try sec­tor. No doubt at some stage, there will be a fol­low up of those sawmills deemed to be “most at risk” in com­ply­ing with work­place health and safety stan­dards.

And fi­nally, what about our fu­ture lead­ers within the in­dus­try?

How do we de­velop the next gen­er­a­tion of su­per­vi­sors and man­agers within our in­dus­try?

Over 10 years ago, Hyne Tim­ber im­ple­mented an in­no­va­tive and very suc­cess­ful cadet­ship pro­gram which led to su­per­vi­sors and man­agers de­vel­op­ing strong skill sets and path­ways in lead­er­ship and man­age­ment roles.

To­day, Hyne’s pro­gram is still re­garded as a flag­ship pro­gram which led to ef­fec­tively de­vel­op­ing the skills and knowl­edge of these su­per­vi­sors and man­agers who have now moved

on through­out the in­dus­try into var­i­ous se­nior man­age­ment roles.

More re­cently, ITI na­tion­ally, suc­cess­fully com­pleted a cadet­ship pro­gram with 13 of its trainees man­aged by the TABMA GTO in a dual Cer­tifi­cate IV in Busi­ness Sales and Lead­er­ship and Man­age­ment qual­i­fi­ca­tions. Over half of the grad­u­ates have now been ear­marked for im­por­tant roles within ITI’s op­er­a­tions.

Sadly, these ex­am­ples are all too few within the tim­ber in­dus­try.

Em­ploy­ers still count the cost of such pro­grams rather than see­ing them as an in­vest­ment in the fu­ture of their busi­ness. This is even more sur­pris­ing when a num­ber of State Gov­ern­ments such as New South Wales (Smart and Skilled) and Queens­land (User Choice) have al­lo­cated sig­nif­i­cant fund­ing for both ex­ist­ing and new work­ers within var­i­ous in­dus­try sec­tors.

Yet, why is the take-up of new trainee­ships in our in­dus­try so poor?

And, how do we de­velop fu­ture lead­ers in the in­dus­try if we are not pre­pared to in­vest in ad­e­quately train­ing and de­vel­op­ing staff?

So if you are look­ing to de­velop an aligned work­force with ad­e­quate ca­pa­bil­ity and ca­pac­ity, and wish to op­er­ate not only safely but prof­itabil­ity, then maybe it’s time to start re­think­ing how you are go­ing to up­skill and re­tain your work­force.

TABMA can as­sist you in many of the ar­eas that have been men­tioned pre­vi­ously such as Work­place

Health and Safety Au­dits, re­cruit­ing new staff, em­ploy­ing trainees and ap­pren­tices, and up­skilling the lead­er­ship and man­age­ment skills of your su­per­vi­sors and man­agers.

Isn’t it time you started putting the train­ing and de­vel­op­ment of your staff first on your list rather than last? Af­ter all, what have you got to lose? Only in­creased pro­duc­tiv­ity, re­ten­tion of staff, and bet­ter cus­tomer ser­vice. Not a bad trade-off if you ask me!

TABMA Train­ing

TABMA Train­ing is Aus­tralia’s lead­ing for­est and tim­ber in­dus­try train­ing or­gan­i­sa­tion. Es­tab­lished since 1998 (RTO 5343 FITEC Aus­tralia), with highly skilled train­ers that take pride in de­liv­er­ing high qual­ity skills based train­ing and as­sess­ment tai­lored to suit spe­cific op­er­a­tional needs of busi­nesses.

All of our train­ers are highly ex­pe­ri­enced with over 10+ years of di­rect in­dus­try ex­pe­ri­ence. We can go to your site to cus­tomise pro­grams to suit that will min­imise down­time but will lead to the up­skilling of your work­ers in the most ef­fec­tive way pos­si­ble.

From full qual­i­fi­ca­tions in key ar­eas such as busi­ness, sales, ware­hous­ing, tim­ber mer­chan­dis­ing, man­u­fac­tur­ing, frame and truss and sawmilling to short cour­ses de­signed for max­i­mum im­pact such as fork­lift, chain­saw, tim­ber knowl­edge, cus­tomer ser­vice, work­place health and safety, and per­for­mance man­age­ment.

Our train­ing strate­gies are de­signed to in­crease job sat­is­fac­tion, help re­tain staff and in­crease ef­fi­ciency. And your busi­ness or staff may be el­i­gi­ble for Gov­ern­ment fund­ing to sub­sidise var­i­ous qual­i­fi­ca­tions.

Ben Cousins -- Na­tional Trainee of the year from ITI.

Laings Build­ing Sup­plies -- Best Frame & Truss op­er­a­tion.

Park­side Tim­bers --Most In­no­va­tive.

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