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Growing opportunities in the forest sector for students

June 19, 2018 - People wanting a career in the forestry sector will soon be able to access more education and training options, following a $1-million investment in new and upgraded programs at six public post-secondary institutions.

Funding includes $328,000 to enhance the existing coastal forest resource certificate, and develop an applied forest resource diploma, at North Island College. The college will expand its workplace-based certificate program with an in-field training and mentorship model, while developing a new diploma program to include industry leadership, mentorship and on-the-job training.

“Applied forestry programs support a vital industry on Vancouver Island and throughout B.C.," said John Bowman, president, North Island College. "NIC is proud to develop relevant and responsive programs, which provide industry knowledge, applied skills and employer connections for our students."

North Island College is consulting with local employers to develop the curriculum, and ensure the certificate and two-year diploma position students and industry for long-term success. 

“More students can look forward to a great future in forestry, in good-paying, family-supporting jobs," said Melanie Mark, Minister of Advanced Education, Skills and Training. "The sector has been the economic backbone of our province for decades. We’re responding to what employers have told us, by ensuring that students in all parts of the province will have the training and experience that industry needs.”

As planning continues, the program's tuition, start date and curriculum details will be confirmed.

“There’s so much to forestry that people don’t realize," said Kyle Porteous, 2018 graduate of the coastal forest resources certificate program, now working as a timber cruiser assistant, Campbell River-based Ranger Forest Services. "From the production side to road building, there are a lot of different careers within the industry. It gives me an opportunity to work outdoors, and see parts of the province you can only get to by helicopter or boat.”

Forestry in British Columbia is a major economic driver, accounting for one-third of all exports, with a value of $14 billion, and almost 60,000 direct jobs.

“Revitalizing the sector with a skilled workforce is a key part of our strategy for the forest sector, and the tens of thousands of British Columbians who rely on forestry jobs,” said Doug Donaldson, Minister of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development.

Forestry sector employment is changing due to manufacturing activity consolidating into fewer, but larger operations. However, value-added sectors such as plywood, cabinets, laminated timber and prefabricated housing are expected to thrive.

“B.C’s forestry industry has been waiting for this," said Corby Lamb, Campbell River Chamber of Commerce chair, and founder and partner of Capacity Forest Management. "The business has evolved with more automation and innovation, as well as primary and secondary forestry production. We’re very pleased students will receive applied training, developed in collaboration with industry.”

About 10,900 job openings in the forestry sector are expected by 2027, mainly to replace highly skilled workers, who are retiring.

June 19, 2018  By Canadian Forest Industries Staff

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