Minister offers help to find forestry recruits
FORESTRY MINISTER, LOUISE UPSTON, HAS highlighted the growing issue of attracting new people into forestry as one of the challenges that needs to be met by the industry.
And she told the audience at the 2017 DANA Forestry Conference last month that she wants to work with them to help make a difference.
It’s a situation that affects all primary industries, she says, highlighting a study carried out in Northland among secondary school leavers in 2014 showing that while a significant number of jobs will be created in the sector in the coming years, only 7% went into further study or training associated with the primary industries.
“We do have a bit of a dire problem on our hands with 50,000 new jobs across all primary industries coming in the next eight years, as well as the requirement to upskill 43,000 of the existing workforce – in forestry, by 2025 an additional 15,100 workers with formal post- school qualifications will be needed, a 30% increase on the current workforce,” she says. “This is absolutely something that we need to tackle together.”
This was brought home to her when she attended a business meeting in Tokoroa and heard that forestry does not rate among pupils as a career – “and that is in a town closely associated with this industry”.
She says we need to change the perception of forestry needs or recruitment will only get harder.
“If we are to fill those 15,100 new jobs we need to do things differently to attract people to forestry,” says Ms Upston.
To help with this task, the Ministry of Primary Industries has initiated a scheme called the Primary Industry Ambassadors and Champions. The Ambassadors work directly with schools, going in and demonstrating the wide range of opportunities and altering the perception of what forestry is, to try and overcome negative opinion that it is an unsafe occupation.
She goes on to add: “I challenge you to take a collective view of industry-good interests and work with us to find how we can establish what’s best for the sector – I am keen to see skills takes a higher priority.”