Crew concept that used to exist under the old Forest Service structure, whereby a number of recruits work in a crew environment overseen by tutors – this system is still used in parts of Europe.
“The advantage of the first one is that you don’t drop productivity much and it’s much easier to make happen with the cooperation of contractors in the region, while the advantage of the other approach is that you get a bulk number of people through the system, although it’s more difficult and costly to do,” adds Mr Field.
He thinks a combination of the two approaches could be made to work, depending on the support and cooperation between contractors, forest owners/managers and training institutions.
Mr Field says there are already offers from major forest owners/ managers, including his own company, to assist with setting up and supporting these crews for training. The idea has also won support from WorkSafe and the Forest Industry Safety Council, which both sent representatives to the Rotorua meeting last month.
“The old Forest Service training was a good model,” says Mr Field. “They even had a dual control machine so that a tutor could sit in with the trainee and do one-on-one sessions.”
He can’t see why a training institution like Toi Ohomai couldn’t build a double seat cab for an excavator as part of its engineering course to provide for forestry student training purposes.
Mr Fields also says the industry needs to get away from the current system where WINZ sends people from its unemployment roster to forestry training courses who may not be suited to the industry and probably don’t want to be on those courses in the first place.
“We need to take control of the selection process – we want people with the right attitude, who want to be part of forestry and are willing to learn, because the WINZ way doesn’t work,” he adds.
Mr Fields says Rayonier Matariki Forests is providing full support for him to be involved in helping to drive the training initiatives within the industry. In five years, he hopes there will be a comprehensive programme that attracts more people into forestry, better prepares them for the work involved and provides contractors with readymade, on-the-job skills training that fits their requirements.