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Labour shortages limiting forest contracting industry

Media Release

1st March 2017

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Embargoed until 8:00am Wednesday 1st March 2017

Labour shortages limiting forest contracting industry

The leading professional group for loggers in New Zealand says their members are being challenged by the lack of young skilled people available to work in rural areas, but the solution is not likely to be importing the people with skills. Forest Industry Contractors Association (FICA) president Ross Davis says a lack of good people with the right skills is now having a real impact in forest workplaces. Together, industry and government must re-look at how school leavers are being prepared for real employment and work together to improve funding and access to technology skills training.

Davis says, “Our members have been working closely with some of the really practical technology institutes but we need more people with different skills from the past. Many more of our logging crews are using mechanised harvesters – providing a great workplace while at the same time making steep slope forest harvesting safer.”

Davis says forestry employers have also been working hard at drug-testing regimes for more than ten years. Our members have led the way in drug testing and positive test results have been declining among their workforce for several years now. He said the bigger challenges for employers in the forest are:

• Students and their parents don’t yet understand that technology skills are now the key to getting good forestry jobs. “We need early risers and hard workers. For highly skilled young people, the jobs are there now to run multi-million machines forest harvesting machines,” says Davis.

• “We don't need so many low-skilled people, but the training must be based around practical operating skills. They need to be productive when running a large harvester with several on-board computer systems.”

“Our industry is New Zealand’s third largest now. We’re poised for growth in both logs for export and to local sawmills. We really need smart skilled young people who are not afraid of hard work. The rewards are there for the right people,” says Davis.

Ends




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