“Why start a forestry school?” “Isn’t the industry slowing down?”
The answer to that question (and misconception) can come straight from industry statistics! The need for Vancouver Island North communities and the forestry sector to address current and future workforce needs is significant and increasing. Many companies are already having trouble attracting and recruiting well-trained, capable individuals. Given the demographics of current employees in the forestry sector and the North Island, it appears this will become increasingly difficult moving forward. Anticipated turnover rates of 60 percent are predicted for forestry and logging employees and 40 percent for the solid wood and pulp and paper sectors.
Remaining competitive in the industry requires a skilled workforce. For some time, there has been a lack of identified training standards and quality control measures for training delivery. Training has often been done on-the-job, by current employees and not necessarily to a consistent standard or level of competency. Additionally, training processes have changed, and new candidates need different instruction methods. In 2015, the BC Forest Safety Council (BCFSC) began an extensive process of identifying the core competencies (skills, knowledge, and attributes) for 35 positions in the forestry sector. These competencies were identified in consultation with industry subject matter experts.
Vancouver Island University (VIU) has developed The Fundamentals of Forestry – Harvesting Practices Program based on the BCFSC identified core competencies. This course is being run in Woss, B.C. in April 2018 in a cooperative learning environment supported by VIU, Western Forest Products, the Province of British Columbia and the RDMW. To learn more about this great educational and work opportunity check out the brochure or the myvancovuerislandnorth.ca website, and keep your eyes open for the next Fundamentals of Forestry intake in the spring of 2019!