New Approach Rewarded
The entrepreneurial attitude of Fernridge Institute of Training's managing director, John Fraser, has been recognised this month by winning the prestigious Forestry Industry Young Leader of the Year Award at the Forestry Industry Conference.
Mr Fraser has developed an innovative solution to help fix the critical shortage of trained forestry workers in New Zealand.
The award acknowledges outstanding leadership qualities, extraordinary contributions to the industry and its future potential.
"The forest industry struggles to attract trainees. At Fernridge we have developed a model where we can not only attract but retain trainees," said Mr Fraser.
Based in the Wairarapa, Fernridge is the only education provider in New Zealand, public or private, that targets overseas students for forestry courses. Fernridge provides the whole package for its students, not just the study and the practical work but also helping the students to fit into a new life in New Zealand.
This model originally developed to help overseas students can be used for domestic students. Fernridge has plans to offer training to domestic students within the next few months.
"Fernridge has rapidly built its reputation as a leading edge training provider. To be credited by the industry with this award, within two years of commencing operation, is an achievement we are very proud of," Mr Fraser said.
"This award acknowledges that Fernridge is at the forefront of industry innovation and is the clear market leader in forestry training in New Zealand. It's a success for myself, Fernridge and the Wairarapa," he said.
Interest has been shown by the forest industry and Ministry of Economic Development officials to assess the feasibility to roll out the Fernridge concept in other areas and in other industries.
This is only the third time the award has been offered, and is the first time that it has been focused on up and coming forestry leaders.
"I feel very honoured to have won this award, especially since it was open to the entire industry including industry heavy weights such as Fletcher Forestry and Carter Holt Harvey," Mr Fraser said.
The award was sponsored by Forest Industry Magazine and Port of Tauranga.