One thing I have learnt over the years is not to look just at the headline numbers as they are reported, as they rarely paint an accurate picture of the situation – particularly in relation to jobs and employment in the industry, and the value of the industry.
Let’s let the numbers speak for themselves – we are an industry of $7 billion in sales and service income, and 20,000 direct jobs, with up to 50,000 indirect jobs.
We often see that reports underestimate these figures, leaving out key information such as the value of timber products and processing, and downstream jobs. For example, a recent updated study, released last week, estimated that the Central Highlands add $310 million of economic value to the state’s water supply and $260 million to tourism, while claiming that the forest industry is worth just $12 million.
However, this is not a true reflection of the value of our industry. In the Central Highlands alone, a recent Deloitte Access Economic Report Economic assessment of the native timber industry in the area showed that $573 million in revenue was generated annually by industry in the region, resulting in the direct employment of 2,117 full time equivalent workers. These figures show a vastly different story, and one that cannot be ignored.
In relation to employment, our industry is often bundled in with agriculture and fisheries, and the labour statistics released often underestimate the actual employment figures, for example, harvest and haulage contractors often get counted in the transport sector!
We operate in a changing landscape, particularly so when it comes to employment, where the jobs in the industry cannot be categorised as easily or as simply as may have been in the past.
Do not be misled; we are not a 19th century sunset industry, we there are opportunities ahead that are exciting, and will see a wide range of jobs in the industry and will only increase our value.