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Friday analysis: Tackling the shortage of feet in the forest

MechLog Directors Anthony Brown and Jillian Aylett Brown with Tasmania’s Minister for Skills, Training, and Workforce Growth Felix Ellis at the announcement of MechLog’s Skills Enhancement & Employee Development program.

There is a shortage of manpower in the forestry industry, and it is Australia wide.

Ask anyone in the industry, almost regardless of which sector they are in, what is the biggest hurdle they face at present and they will say a lack of staff.

Many point to an ageing workforce on the ground.

Not enough young people are entering the workforce.

It’s not for a lack of opportunities, or training. Organisations such as Abre in Tasmania, and Timber Training Creswick in Victoria are doing the best they can as are organisations such as the University of Tasmania, ForestWorks and others.

Forestry Australia’s CEO Jacquie Martin said the lack of opportunities to study forestry at university is resulting in a skill shortage.

Forestry Australia’s Future Foresters Initiative Committee, made up of young forestry professionals and forest science students, has developed a proposal for a Graduate Certificate and Graduate Diploma in Forestry programs.

The University of Tasmania will coordinate the program to be delivered by different institutions including Southern Cross University, Australian National University, Melbourne University, University of South Australia, and the University of the Sunshine Coast.

And now MechLog in Tasmania has entered the field with a new training programme aimed at improving the skills of people entering the forestry industry.

It will assist the industry attract younger people, and those from similar industries, to consider a career in the forest harvesting sector.

The Skills Enhancement & Employee Development program will be offered to new employees pursuing a career in harvesting operations with MechLog.

Both approaches are vitally important AND Forestry Australia and MechLog are to be congratulated on their initiatives.

The industry needs researchers in the laboratory and the field as much as it needs people on harvesters, skidders and forwarders.

Without them, the industry has a bleak future.