Taranaki forestry course attracts trainees

1 September 2019

Digging in Pinus radiata seedlings on a steep, slippery slope as an icy wind whips off Mt Taranaki is helping provide future work skills in New Zealand’s forestry industry for ten young trainees.

Those trainees are gathered on a cold, overcast morning at a sheep and beef farm behind Stratford. It’s their fourth week of a 17-week New Zealand Certificate of Forestry Industry Foundation Skills level two course, which is providing them with an introduction to working in the industry.

In spite of the wintry conditions and sheep nibbling the seedlings overnight the group assigned to plant 15,000 young trees could not feel better – even if some have had to be dragged out of bed earlier in the morning. The Taranaki Forestry Conservation course provides introductory skills in silviculture, harvesting, pest and weed control, with a big emphasis on health and safety.

Once qualified each trainee could be earning as much as NZ$100 an hour as a contractor, programme tutor David Hare says. It’s good money for those who want it, he adds.

Hare, and Terence Waiariki, of Tree Machine Services, established the course in conjunction with Whangerei tertiary education provider North Tec, Te Uru Rākau (Forestry NZ), and Ngati Maru to fill the chronic skilled labour shortage in the industry as the Government’s One Billion Tree programme takes shape.

As the planting programme progresses the demand for skilled workers will increase, Hare says. “Finding skilled workers who have the right attitude is one of the biggest problems for the industry at the moment. Contractors are being forced to take people who are unskilled and then train them because there is a serious shortage of skilled workers.”


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