A pilot logging training scheme in Gisborne may be rolled out nationally after it was found to have “significantly” benefited trainees.
The ManaiaSAFE Forestry Schools 20-week pilot training programme bridges the gap between the classroom and commercial sites through a specifically designed training programme within a controlled, commercial environment.
An independent evaluation also said a national network of the schools would bring socio-economic benfits to the industry and communities, as well as Maori and Pasifika populations.
Eight trainees have graduated from the Gisborne scheme and project manager Henry Koia said the scheme “had to happen”.
“A lot of people in our community have fallen through the cracks of our education system, particularly young people who need the opportunity to acquire the knowledge, skills and even work ethic that’s going to set them up for the rest of their lives, whether they end up in forestry or not.
“There are negative consequences and opportunities lost associated with a forestry skills shortage, especially in a region like ours where forestry is an economic driver.”
Koia said the school had to stay in the region and community stakeholders, industry and government agencies needed to scale it up so it could benefit more people.
The $840,000 pilot programme got about $300,000 from the Government’s Provincial Growth Fund and was co-funded by Eastland Community Trust, Forest Growers Levy Trust, Te Uru Rakau, Eastern Institute of Technology and Ernslaw One Limited.
Regional Economic Development and Forestry Minister Shane Jones last year said a successful pilot could also form the basis for similar training courses in other parts of the country where there are forestry skills shortages.
Koia said second intake of rookie loggers would begin this month and enrolments are being accepted through EIT.
The first intake of students in Eastland Wood Council’s forestry training Generation Programme graduated in December last year and manager Siobhain Fyall said out of the 11 trainees, eight had jobs.
The programme was developed to meet the skill and workforce needs of the forest industry.
“Our contractors see the value of our trainees to them,” said Eastland Wood Council chief executive Kim Holland.
A key component of the programme was employer and trainee commitment to ongoing training and Holland said the trainees were continuing to work on national certificates, supervised by senior forestry tutor Henry Mulligan and George Tanirau at Turanga Ararau.
She said Hawke’s Bay, Southern North Island, and Northland wood councils had expressed interest in the programme..
The second generation of trainees – all of them working towards their Level 3 National Certificate in Harvesting Operations – finish next week and five of the 11 trainees are already on work experience with contractors or have been offered employment.
– Gisborne Herald