New workers to the forestry sector will be able to train tuition-free for a range of forestry jobs in a 12-week course being piloted at six public post-secondary schools.
“I was raised in a logging family and know first-hand the challenges this industry has faced over the decades. It is so important that we invest in the people and families that fuel communities across the province,” said Melanie Mark, Minister of Advanced Education, Skills and Training. “These pilots are providing training opportunities and pathways for the next generation to thrive in the changing forestry industry.”
The project will be led by the BC Forest Safety Council (BCFSC). Training materials will also be integrated into existing programs at two public post-secondary institutions.
“The forestry sector is facing slowdowns that were years in the making, but there remains a need in some areas for new workers,” said Doug Donaldson, Minister of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development. “Ensuring students have the skills the forestry sector needs to grow supports economic development and provides good jobs for entry-level workers.”
In addition to earning safety certificates, students will learn skills required for forestry jobs ranging from tending tree stands to mechanical harvesting. Small class sizes of six to eight students and interactive learning will allow students to gain knowledge and skills, including chainsaw operation and wildland firefighting.
“Meeting the training needs of new workers ensures they’re not left behind as the forestry sector continues to adapt,” said Ravi Kahlon, Parliamentary Secretary for Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development. “Employers will also benefit when new employees come to the table job-ready with skills and improved safety awareness.”
Approximately $500,000 for the project is from the Sector Labour Market Partnerships Program through the Canada-BC Labour Market Development Agreement.
The funding is in addition to the $12 million the Province committed to retraining initiatives, as part of an overall commitment of $69 million to support impacted communities, workers and employers in the forestry sector.
Rob Moonen, CEO, BC Forest Safety Council —
“The entry-level forestry worker training program provides students a basic understanding of general forestry occupational skills, legislation and regulation, and aligns with on-the-job worker competency assessments developed by BCFSC. That means future employers will be able to see what has already been covered in workers’ training, and what still needs to be taught on the job.”
Jake Roos, Okanagan College instructor and owner, Loki Tree Service —
“The strength of this program is that it combines the supportive learning environment of the college with local contractors and practical field experience. It recognizes that good, efficient forest work requires an early understanding of professionalism and safety. Students can expect to leave with knowledge about the fundamentals of modern forestry in B.C. and industry contacts with which to initiate their career.”
- Planned delivery of programs in mid-2020:
- Coast Mountain College – Terrace
- Selkirk College – Grand Forks
- College of New Caledonia – Vanderhoof
- Vancouver Island University
- North Island College
- Okanagan College delivered the program at its Revelstoke campus in 2019.
BC Forest Safety Council: http://www.bcforestsafe.org/
To read about how the B.C. government supports Interior forestry workers, contractors and communities, visit: https://forestryworkersupport.gov.bc.ca/