New Zealand Logger - - Contents -

IT WAS GREAT TO SEE CON­TRAC­TORS AND FOR­EST OWN­ERS GET­TING to­gether last month to thrash out ideas on how to im­prove the train­ing of young re­cruits and ex­ist­ing work­ers on modern com­plex ma­chin­ery, as cov­ered in this is­sue of NZ Log­ger.

But let’s not get too far ahead of our­selves.

The idea of bring­ing back the Train­ing Crew con­cept and ramp­ing up tech­nol­ogy tu­ition is very wor­thy, and it cer­tainly an­swers a need. Con­trac­tors are far too busy and their re­sources stretched to the point where it is dif­fi­cult for them to ef­fec­tively pro­vide this sort of train­ing within their crew struc­tures th­ese days.

It is go­ing to take time and a fair amount of in­vest­ment to es­tab­lish a net­work that en­ables con­trac­tors through­out the coun­try to tap into the pro­posed train­ing re­sources, and it de­serves all our sup­port.

How­ever, it doesn’t solve the is­sue of sell­ing forestry as an at­trac­tive em­ploy­ment op­tion to young peo­ple (and even older ones) who might never have con­sid­ered it in the past.

We des­per­ately need a co­or­di­nated and fully funded re­cruit­ment pro­gramme built around an on­go­ing mar­ket­ing strat­egy/aware­ness cam­paign to sell forestry as a re­ward­ing ca­reer path for mo­ti­vated re­cruits. We don’t just want bums on seats, we want peo­ple with brains and a de­sire to do a good job and get ahead.

We’re not alone, of course. Other in­dus­tries are find­ing it dif­fi­cult to re­cruit peo­ple: ie truck driv­ers, builders, en­gi­neers, teach­ers, nurses et al. And in many re­spects, we’re fish­ing in the same tal­ent pool.

We need to es­tab­lish a point of dif­fer­ence and in­ject some ex­cite­ment into the idea of work­ing in the for­est with re­ally cool tech­nol­ogy and in an in­dus­try that can pro­vide New Zealand – and the world – with ad­vanced prod­ucts that will an­swer many of our fu­ture re­quire­ments.

How do we go about that?

This is an is­sue that should be driven by the in­dus­try as a whole. We don’t only have short­ages in har­vest­ing and sil­vi­cul­ture crews, but also in for­est man­age­ment, for­est en­gi­neer­ing, saw-milling, wood pro­cess­ing, trans­port and lo­gis­tics. It’s wide­spread.

The role is some­thing that would fit with WoodCo, the pan-in­dus­try body made up from or­gan­i­sa­tions that rep­re­sent most of those work­ing in forestry.

WoodCo has funded pro­mo­tional cam­paigns to ben­e­fit the whole in­dus­try in the past, but what is re­quired is more than just bill­boards and ad­verts. We need a pro­gramme that draws on a wide va­ri­ety of re­sources and co­or­di­nates ac­tiv­i­ties around the coun­try at a re­gional level, as well as a na­tional one.

It can’t be a one-off. It has to be for­mu­lated to work over a num­ber of years, be­cause it is go­ing to take a long time to gain trac­tion and get re­sults.

If we don’t do some­thing to boost the num­ber and qual­ity of peo­ple com­ing into forestry, we face a long and con­tin­u­ing de­cline in the work­force. That’s not an ac­cept­able op­tion.


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