Min­is­ter of­fers help to find forestry re­cruits

New Zealand Logger - - Dana Forestry Conference -

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.”

NZL

Louise Up­ston.

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