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4000 people needed each year in forest industry

Media release
24 July 2008
For immediate release
The war for talent - 4000 people needed each year in the forest and wood industries
Ian Boyd, CEO of FITEC, announced his proposal for fighting the battle to create the required labour talent in the forest and wood industries.
As a guest speaker at the Forestry Strategic Summit in Rotorua, Mr Boyd emphasised how important it was for the industry to not only get sufficient numbers of employees, but also attract and train those with the right capabilities.
“The recent report we commissioned from BERL on future skill requirements in the forest and wood industries showed that at current productivity levels the industry would need up to an additional 4600 – 5000 new people each,” he says.
“The report also indicated the most important skills that would be required were technical and trade.”
Mr Boyd says the industry needs to address the issue of where all these people will come from and sees there is an obvious link to the around 35,000 school leavers each year available to employers.
“57,000 secondary school students leave school each year and 24,000 never go on to tertiary education.  With the additional 11,000 students who drop out of tertiary education in their first year – this is a huge pool of potential talent available to the industry – if we can capture their interest.”
The second issue the industry faces is ensuring employees have the right sets of sills for their work.  Mr Boyd says that current training capability within the industry varies enormously depending on the resources and capabilities of the providers and industry organisations.
“One option for addressing the inconsistencies is to establish an Industry Training School,” says Mr Boyd. “So last year, as a result of our industry consultation, FITEC began investigating that possibility.”
An Industry Training School could become a key point of entry into the forest and wood industries and deliver quality training that meets the needs of all employers across New Zealand.
It was also seen as an opportunity to promote the breadth of career choices in the industry, provide employers with a recognised source of skilled employees, and to maximise the government investment in industry training.
“There are so many ways in which an Industry Training School would benefit both employers and employees,” says Mr Boyd “It now makes sense to move towards developing a New Zealand model.”
As part of the study, FITEC looked for similar educational institutions overseas and found that European schools best represented a model that would work in New Zealand.
Mr Boyd says the key components that made those schools top performers were:

·       Education systems that gave equal importance to vocational training and academic learning

·       Separate Vocational Education and Training (VET) government agencies which establish single, consistent national policy

·       Funding from government with industry advisory groups and/or management

·       A broad mix of programmes was offered from basic vocation education and practical training courses through to advanced trade and custom designed courses

·       Adequate machinery and equipment donated or leased to the school by suppliers

·       Teachers from industry, but trained as teachers

·       Residential facilities

Mr Boyd says he is now entering into a round of consultation over the Industry Training School study outcomes with industry and government stakeholders.  The aim is to establish a specialist working group to begin the implementation phase.
“However, one of the problems in New Zealand is that we don’t currently seem to have an education model that would support equal emphasis on vocational industry training versus academic education.”
“This is reflected in the inequitable funding Industry Training Organisations receive compared to Universities and Polytechnics and in industry trainees lack of access to student loans and allowances.”
Mr Boyd says the way that vocational learning is currently structured is not sustainable over the long term and he’s advocating for industry, government and the education sector to work together to progress the current situation in New Zealand.
“Only then can we hope to establish the right vocational education system up to 60% of our school leavers depend on and meet the increasing need from the forest and wood industries for ‘talented’ employees.”
The BERL report, the Industry Training School Report and Mr Boyd’s full presentation are available as PDF files on the FITEC website (


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