The forest and wood products industry in Victoria is one of Australia’s largest and most diverse, providing a broad array of career opportunities in forest growing and management; harvesting and haulage; sawmilling and processing; pulp and paper manufacturing; engineered wood, panel and board production; and timber merchandising.
Each of these sectors require people with strategic and communication skills working in tandem with advanced digital and technical expertise, drawing across areas including science, research, manufacturing, engineering, productivity, logistics, trades and sales, just to name a few. Within each sector there are people working in many different roles – from owners and managers to plant operators and tradespeople, technicians, salespeople, scientists and more.
The industry is a strong, reliable source of employment for many, particularly so in regional towns across Victoria. Workers in the industry are highly skilled across a range of different areas from the forest floor through to furniture making and furnishing. Employing and retaining skilled employees needs to be a high priority for the industry as it is vital to the continued success of the industry.
With ongoing issues facing all industries in attracting adequately trained and experienced personnel, ensuring there is a workforce available with the required skills is essential if we are to provide a sustainable future for the forest and wood products industry.
For many operations in the industry, gone are the days of the traditional sources of professional and technical employees. We are now entering a time where our workers will come from a varied range of backgrounds and training. The question we need to be asking is what can we do as an industry to ensure that we are attracting the next generation of workers? What do the young workers in the industry want? How do we ensure that they will stay and enjoy a long and successful career? As always, I would love to hear your thoughts and ideas about how we can engage more with the future generation of workers in this great industry of ours.