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Forest Industries Big On Training

Forest Industries Big On Training

Improved skills and safety standards amongst New Zealand forestry workers are becoming not only big business in a rapidly expanding industry, but also the increasingly popular focus of an annual contest to recognise its outstanding achievers.

Forest Industries Training's National Training Awards, now in their fourth year, continue to attract record attendances at the award evening, and a large number of entries from trainees and companies throughout New Zealand, but one of the most keenly contested categories in 2003 is the Modern Apprentice of the Year award.

The forest industry has been one of the most responsive in uptake of the Modern Apprenticeship programme, introduced by the government in 2000. Last year, there were 427 Modern Apprentices in the New Zealand forest industries, the largest number administered by any Industry Training Organisation.

John Blakey, Forest Industries Training CEO, says the organisation is recognised as one of New Zealand's leading Industry Training Organisation in training numbers, achievements, and quality of training solutions.

"Forest industries have been very responsive in embracing the need for training as part of its long term expansion strategy," he says. "We currently arrange training for over 12,000 people, with over half of these employed specifically in forestry and a further 25% in solid wood processing."

However, numbers of industry trainees still needs to double to cope with the expected surge in the country's second largest export earner (currently $3.6billion). John Blakey says training not only delivers the skills needed to improve quality and productivity but also impacts on improving safety- a big issue for forestry.

A new category has been introduced in the 2003 Awards, the 'National Trainee of the Year Award for Forest Health Surveillance/Biosecurity', which Mr Blakey says recognises the natural link and importance of biosecurity and forest health surveillance not only to our forests, but also to the New Zealand economy.

Finalists in the 2003 Forest Industries Training Awards will be selected next week, with winners announced on the awards night in Rotorua on May 23.

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