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$400,000 funding for forestry training

The future of a forestry training programme here is secure for the next two years thanks to funding from the Government's One Billion Trees Programme.

Eastland Wood Council's Generation Programme has been given $441,000 from Te Uru Rakau (Forestry New Zealand).

“It is fantastic to strengthen our relationship with Te Uru Rakau through this kind of support and to see them invest in forest industry training like this,” said Eastland Wood Council chief executive Kim Holland.

“It means we can continue to develop the programme to ensure it meets industry needs. This recognises the success of our Generation Programme in providing skills and people to our industry work-ready. The industry and contractors are snapping up our trainees — that says so much.”

The heart of the programme revolved around health and safety, ongoing training and plenty of mentoring to give candidates the best possible chance of success.

Te Uru Rakau acting director of forest development, grants and partnerships, Annie Hindle, said programmes like the Generation Programme were needed to ensure there were trained people, ready to go and aware of the hazards of their work.

“We are proud to support the Eastland Wood Council in their efforts to provide contractors with work-ready employees by investing in the training and upskilling of our forestry workforce.”

Ms Holland said Covid-19 had meant a particularly tough year for many but Te Uru Rakau had stepped in to offer support when needed.

“Our programme has had to adapt as things rolled out. We established online learning during Covid-19 Alert Levels 3 and 4, and made sure our trainees were all safe when returning to the new normal.”

A total of 14 contractors work with the Generation Programme. All of them contract to EWC member companies.

“The success of this programme comes through our ability to continue to recruit, even in a very challenging year,” Ms Holland said.

She praised programme manager Siobhain Fyall.

“It is great we have the continuity of both the programme and the ability to retain the likes of Siobhain and continue to grow the forestry industry relationship with Turanga Ararau whose pastoral care involvement had been crucial to success for a number of candidates.”

The programme is now in its third year and on its seventh intake.

“There has been an impressive list of achievements this year, with several gaining level 3 qualifications as well as head breaker out tickets, licences, first aid certificates and wheel, tracks and rollers completions.

“We have interest in the programme from far and wide, with trainees moving to Gisborne to train with us and then work in local forestry.

“We have been blown away by the number of women who are stepping up to take part in the programme. It is great to see and it is making such a difference to people's lives.”

Over the three years, more than 60 trainees have been through the programme, with 33 — men and women — continuously employed in forestry, and 14 more moving into other industries.

“Candidates see there is massive opportunity within the industry to not only earn good money but also for the career opportunities — the world really is their oyster.”

Next year the programme will accept rolling enrolments, allowing people to tap into the training as they are looking for work.

“It also means we can place trainees into employment on a rolling basis so the contractors don't have to wait for the end of a cohort.”

The practice has already been successfully trialled with trainees who entered the programme with experience but needing to gain tickets.

The newly-formed Central North Island Wood Council is in the throes of establishing its own Generation Programme in Tokoroa where they will follow the Tairawhiti blueprint but tailor it to meet the requirements of the industry in their region.

“I am very proud of what we have achieved here and we are all looking forward to 2021,” Ms Holland said.

Generation Programme: Intake seven candidates are, from left, Pete Wanoa, Damos Davis, Ashley Ward, Harli Campbell, Api Crawford, Siobhain Fyall (GP manager) foreman Mike Wikohika and Vaughan Peneha on a site visit to CPM Logging at Waituna Forest with Logic Forest Solutions. Picture supplied