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Timberbiz Feature of the Week
Logging industry needs skilled workers
She says the predictions are for the activity to increase over the next few years, the problem is finding the people to do the work.'We have a tremendous worker shortage, I could use 500 trucks today,' says Arcand, who claims that when spring break comes loggers will end up leaving wood on the ground because there aren't enough equipment operators or drivers to make sure the logs get out of the bush.
Arcand says the situation is in part, the result of skilled workers moving to find work elsewhere during the downturn. 'Of course, mining is ramping up in the area, and those are all transferable skills, you still need loggers. They're not logging for two by fours, they're logging for right of way and pipeline and mine site clearing, so they're still doing what they know how to do, its just not necessarily for the production of lumber.'
Arcand says there are concerns that when the U.S. lumber market returns to it pre-crash level, there just won't be enough people available to do the work to produce enough product to meet the demand. There are also challenges in trying to compete with the pay scale offered by mining.
That's why the Central Interior Logging Association has developed 'FIRST Logger' which is the Forest Industry Readiness Skills Training. Kate Iverson is the Director of Training and says the program is looking for young adults, who are willing and ready to start new careers in forest harvesting. The program trains people on equipment and trucks, gives participants the certifications needed to start a job. 'We still have a labour pool that is interested in forestry. It's been interesting to see the folks who are coming back to forestry from mining or oil and gas because they don't want to be away from their families, they don't want to spend all that time in remote camps, they want to work in their own backyard.' Iverson says there is a different model being examined to try and bring people back to forestry, for instance, having three or four women share the responsibilities for a truck, 'They only have to spend 20 or 30 hours a week, and can still have time to spend with their family and children at home.'
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