Job shortage and forest industry is no longer a contradiction in terms as far as MaryAnne Arcand is concerned.
The executive director of the Central Interior Logging Association (CILA) was driving along Highway 97 back up to Prince George one Saturday and noticed an abundance of “help wanted” signs.
“Especially in Quesnel where the logging shops are right along the highway there, signs everywhere,” Arcand said, adding she’s noticed similar trends in the help wanted ads online and in the newspapers.
The challenge is to find people ready to step in with a minimum of on-the-job training and to that end, Arcand, with the support of logging and trucking companies, sawmill and pulpmill operators and the College of New Caledonia, is developing a program to answer that need.
Dubbed Forest Industry Resource Skills Training (FIRST), the proposal is a 12-week program that ends with “real time, on the ground training in an active logging show.”
It would act as a finishing school for those who’ve earned the qualifications to drive a logging truck or operate a feller-buncher but lack the practical experience.
“Obviously, December to March is crazy time and nobody really has the time to mentor them so what we’re trying to do is get that piece done in the late-summer, early-fall while it’s still kind of the slack time,” Arcand said.
“In the winter, we need 100 per cent production out of those machines and you can’t afford to have a guy sitting on there at 20, 30, 40 per cent slowly building up, so the idea would be that you’d have him coming in at 75, 80 per cent ready and then build up over the season.”