Wood Business

Features Forestry Management Harvesting
Recruit and retain

March 31, 2015 - JD Irving is looking for a few good men and women. More than 7,800 in fact, and all within the next three years, as we reported on www.woodbusiness.ca in mid-February. Many of those jobs will be in shipbuilding or food processing, as the diversified company needs help in many sectors. Yet a quick scan of their current postings shows the majority is, and perhaps will remain, in the forest products sector.

In that, Irving is not alone. As the industry recovers and retools, and endures a succession phase we have seen coming for over a decade, we all struggle to get the right people in the right spot. Nor are we alone as an industry.

Annex Business Media, the parent company of Canadian Forest Industries, publishes over 55 trade magazines in as many sectors of the economy. When we surveyed these markets in 2014, recruiting and retention were identified as the main challenge facing the vast majority. When it was not the main issue, it was always runner-up.

So not only are we fighting among ourselves for top talent, we will be fighting these 55 business sectors and more. We tend to bemoan our lacklustre efforts in reaching out to the next generation in forestry, but the reality is we aren’t doing a bad job, at least not in the past few years. Associations, led by FPAC and its Greenest Workforce initiative, are involved much more directly than those in other industries we cover. Companies like Irving are making a big deal of looming talents needs.

Grassroots reach possible
At CFI, we are in the third year of our popular Top 10 Under 40 campaign to celebrate young excellence (and looking for sponsors to support it, truth be told). It is a program we borrowed from some of our sister magazines in aviation, manufacturing, and horticulture. In industries such as aviation, firefighting and security, we also run successful
job fairs.

These specialized and local events target youth from Grade 10 to early university with panel sessions, mini trade shows and a chance to meet people who’ve made a great living in these sectors. They have been run-away successes, and are outrageously rewarding to host.

They also take considerable effort and investment for our small magazine teams. We’re looking at launching this series in the forestry sector, so if you think it’s a good idea and would like to get involved in any way, let us know. We can’t do
it alone.

Train to retain
Finding top talent is one thing – keeping them is another. At Annex, we invest heavily in training staff in everything from new and social media to integrated selling and event management. It’s one way our mid-sized company can keep staff on board. But it can be expensive, especially for companies, like ours, with multiple offices and remote employees.

Technology can help, with webinars as one solution. Both with internal and external trainers, we can get a lot done with little expense and less time. And the technology is now idiot proof.

As proof of that last statement, we’ve launched our own webinar series, a step we hope will bring expertise to mill and forestry operations across this massive landscape with minimal investment in time and money. For $25 per topic and less than 45 minutes, you and your entire staff can gather in the boardroom and pick up tips and technology to drive a better operation.

It kicks off March 25 as lumber drying expert trainer Peter Garrahan runs through 10 steps to top tier drying, and continues with a new topic each month until year end.

Visit www.woodbusiness.ca or page 46 for the full series schedule. And drop us a line with topic suggestions. We’ll do our best to accommodate.

And finally, please join me in welcoming Andrew Snook to our editorial team. Andrew comes to us with a technical background that will serve him well as he covers forestry and sawmilling operations across Canada.



March 27, 2015  By Scott Jamieson

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