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ForestWorks response to South Australian Forest Industry Strategy Directions 2011 – 2015

Essential to a strong and sustainable industry is a skilled workforce that supports the production, innovation and adaptation required of successful organisations. It is critical to ensure that the knowledge and skills required to meet these elements of success are reflected across all positions within an organisation and that workers are supported in their ongoing engagement with learning. It
is critical that skills and knowledge are not only delivered to foresters, scientists, researchers and other professionals but that the learning pathway is accessible for workers across all positions.
The most current scenario is that being faced by employees who will lose their positions at KCA
Millicent mill as this global company restructures. In this case, and during recent restructures at Carter Holt Harvey at Nangwarry and Dartmoor, employees have accessed nationally recognised skill development and will be able to transfer this knowledge to retraining and other employment
pathways. Where training is delivered in‐house and is not officially recognised, employees are significantly disadvantaged.
A skill pressure on the Green Triangle region is the demand for skilled mechanical harvesters. Many companies want skilled workers but unless there are jobs for people once they are trained, this skill gets lost or diverted to another industry. It is recognised consistently in this industry that training frequently occurs on the job rather than before employment commences. In regard to mechanical
harvesting there are limited pre‐employment training opportunities to develop basic skills and an understanding of the equipment so until on‐site application occurs people can be, at best, ‘job ready’ if not ‘job expert’.
ForestWorks is mindful of the South Australian Government Infrastructure Plan that identifies workforce issues. The plan recognises the need to increase publicly funded TAFE delivery at workplaces as well as the importance of regional skill development. Both of these elements are critical to skill development for this industry. It is also important to recognise the role of private
RTOs in working with enterprises in this industry.
ForestWorks supports the identification of a strategic direction to strengthen workforce development. It is disappointing that the reference to OHS and W standards has not been continued.
We would seek however to vary the current measurements:
1. Number of forestry industry apprentices currently relates to two positions, saw doctor and wood machinist (retain)
2. Recognise other apprentices such as electricians and mechanics that forest and timber product companies employ
3. ‘Percentage of primary industry skills trainees working in forest industry’ – we do not understand this measure and propose:
a. Number of forest and timber product trainees working in the industry
b. Number of people enrolled (but not as trainees or apprentices) in the forest and timber products industry.
It is important to recognise the learning culture in the industry is one of ‘once employed, training happens’. This understanding is important as the current critical analysis of the industry could be read as requiring a ‘pre-skilled’/existing skilled labour force (Code W6,O8) when this is, in reality, uncommon. Whilst generic skills may be sought by companies, the product knowledge and the technical activity of forest growing, management, harvesting, haulage, processing and manufacturing lend themselves to a specialised skills and knowledge set rather than generic skill sets. Therefore, the availability of a ‘ready skilled’ labour pool to meet the often seasonal demands of the industry is rarely in place.
ForestWorks recommends an ongoing development of government and industry partnerships to
support training institutions deliver to the workplace with a funding level that supports ‘at work, flexible delivery’. This model however usually does not deliver to training providers’ class sizes or ‘at campus’ activity but rather on site, during work. This requires flexibility and negotiated processes to undertake learning and assessment.
In its original response (attached), ForestWorks outlined a proposal for the industry that we believe is still required.
Unfortunately ForestWorks was unable to attend either of the two consultation forums; however we
would be happy to discuss further with the Board our previous response and the recommendations
made in this submission.
Yours sincerely
Michael Hartman
Chief Executive Officer
REF: Response to ‘A Conceptual Framework for the South Australian Forest Industry Strategy’ ForestWorks makes the following response to the framework in terms of addressing the workforce development issues that are both currently facing the industry and in planning for the future.
ForestWorks, the Industry Skills Council for the forest, wood, paper and timber products industry is strongly connected to the South Australia industry and government (see Appendix One for description of current activity).
ForestWorks is a national organisation that maintains industry based advisory committees supported
by State Governments in New South Wales, Tasmania, Victoria and Queensland. These committees provide timely and expert engagement with industry for skills, training and employment intelligence.
The committees are managed by ForestWorks using consistent protocols and approaches to committee structures. We request that the strategic plan for the industry support a committee to be established in South Australia, managed by ForestWorks for a successful sustainable approach to provide advice to government on the skills and training needs and demands of the industry in South Australia.
We are strongly supportive of the framework referencing to a highly skilled workforce with world class OHS&W standards (ref: Key elements of the Forest Industry Strategy, page 10; A skilled and safe workforce, page 12, technological, training and education, page 23). In addition to this OHS&W focus it is critical to the skilled workforce to be knowledgeable and capable across all occupations to
contribute to sustainable and innovative practices.
We would welcome a rigorous consultation strategy that ensures a range of stakeholders, including both labour and company representatives, government and suppliers to industry, such as registered training organisations to be involved in the next stage. We request that further work recognising the sectors from forest growing and management, harvesting and haulage, sawmilling and processing, timber manufacturing, pulp and paper manufacturing, wood panel products and timber
merchandising and wood furnishing as all being contributors and participants in the forest industry in South Australia.
The range of sectors was developed through the ForestWorks managed Industry Data Collection Project (2002 ‐2006) with industry validation.
This grouping of sectors continues and is expressed in the structure of the skill standards and qualifications for the industry and in the current Department of Agriculture Fisheries and Forestry (DAFF) forestry database project.
In 2008 an Industry Skills Plan developed by industry and managed through ForestWorks continues to shape and influence the strategies to deliver a skilled workforce. Reference to and understanding of the National Indigenous Forestry Strategy must also be considered in any future strategy to ensure that Indigenous employment opportunities are available in the industry with the relevant
skills support provided. It is our submission that the Board itself is reconstituted to have a broader industry constituency to ensure that the proposed industry strategy is to be successful.
ForestWorks undertakes each year an industry skills scan (attached) that provides advice to the Commonwealth and state governments, including South Australia. We would welcome the opportunity that ensures South Australia industry can provide direct skills and training advice to the
government as well as contributing to national industry wide forums and context.
In understanding and contributing to the planning and meeting skill demands it is important to emphasise that it can have several elements – labour shortages; skilled labour shortages; existing labour with skills shortages, labour oversupply with skill shortages, and skills shortages against new and emerging workplace demands.
Ensuring that skilled labour is available where industry’s needs are requires planning and effective understanding of all industry sectors, their jobs and the skills required. This may be either attracting labour, essential for regional development or up skilling or getting existing workers qualified.
Improving the perception of the industry so that young people want to work in the industry and that there is a skilled pathway in the industry is critical. Currently, in the industry:
Where industry, via enterprises, puts a low demand on the VET sector this is resulting in a lack of government funded training resources flowing to the industry
• A significant amount of industry training and learning takes place at the enterprise and at learners’ own cost without the outcomes of this training being benchmarked or recognised outside of the enterprise
• A significant amount of ‘at work’ training – while effective and non disruptive to production does not deliver recognisable, transferable, benchmarked skills that are vital to the future of the industry, the learner and our economy
• RTOs face unsustainable business models to deliver to industry and subsequently stay away
from the industry (Source: Industry Skills Scan 2010 Executive Summary)
To support and maintain a skilled workforce requires training facilities and trainers/educators that can work with industry to continue to invest in skill development, just as with ongoing investment is planned for improved production processes. As industry continuously develops and takes on new products and new practices (such as wood waste as biomass to use for power generation), an
ongoing supply of specialist skills are required.
ForestWorks, on behalf of the industry has developed qualification pathways across the seven sectors in Vocational Education and Training (VET). In South Australia, the profile in 2008 (NCVER latest figures) of VET participants is small with some 43 apprentices/trainees enrolled in 2008 in only 4 qualifications. Of these the profile is 35 male and 8 female, with 28% in the 30‐39 year age group, 21% in the 20‐24 year age group, 16% in the 25‐29 year age group, 16% are in the 40‐49 year age group and only 11% in the 15‐19 year age group. Almost 50% of total participation is in Cert II in Wood Panel Products. Whilst this figure does not represent all current participants it does describe those that have training plans through the traineeship or apprenticeship structure.
Ongoing work between ForestWorks and higher education aims to ensure that both VET and Higher Education are working together to support learning in the industry that is rigorous, responsive and relevant to the demands of the workplace and community.
In summary, we request:
• The establishment of an industry advisory committee managed by ForestWorks
• A review of the Board for greater industry breadth and representation
• Referencing to the National Indigenous Forestry Strategy
We would be pleased to provide additional information to ensure that the strategy is developed to support the industry in South Australia.
Yours sincerely,
Michael Hartman
Chief Executive Officer