Promoting forestry as an exciting and viable career option has been a key focus for Erica Kinder since taking the reins of the Southern North Island Wood Council (SNIWC) three months ago.
Covering an area that includes Taranaki, Wairarapa, Wanganui, Manawatu, Wellington, and Tararua, SNIWC members include; nurseries, forestry management companies, transport companies, sawmills and Centreport in Wellington.
With a bachelor’s degree in forestry science from Canterbury University and a personal career within the industry spanning 20 years working in shipping, log marshalling and the transport side of forestry, Erica encourages more women and young people to consider forestry as their chosen career.
Passionate about the industry, Erica wants to dispel the myths about what a modern career in forestry looks like, painting a picture of an increasingly sophisticated industry offering a viable career option for the talented and tech savvy.
Erica also makes the point that the industry is striving to be entirely drug free with every worker now tested pre employment, and random tests regularly carried out across the whole sector.
Taking on the role of Chief Executive Ofﬁcer, Erica says she and the SNIWC Board want to do more to promote forestry as a valid career choice to secondary age kids.
Erica has spent the last three months visiting secondary schools right across the lower North Island and attending ﬁve careers expos across the region.
“We feel that when you’re working in with schools you’re reaching a whole section of the community,” says Erica.
“You’re also dealing with teachers and parents— explaining the same things about forestry and responding to all their concerns. By reaching one group, you’re actually reaching quite a lot.”
With all the media attention and the concerns that people have, addressing the misconceptions about forestry is critical if bright young people are to be attracted to the industry.
Erica says when she goes around the schools and asks kids what they think forestry is they typically say ‘it’s a guy on a chainsaw’.
“There’s been a real change in the last 10 years in forestry around technology. ‘Increasingly our logging crews are becoming highly mechanised with fewer people on chainsaws all the time.
About half the crews working in the Wairarapa are fully mechanised which means no man on the ground—everything is done from a machine.”
Partly a response to health and safety; the shift in technology is also a response to productivity and protecting the environment.
“New developments around haulers means there will be a felling head on a hauler that goes down the hill, grabs a tree, cuts it, grapples it and brings it up the hill—without the tree touching the ground and no man on the ground. So the soil compaction and erosion is signiﬁcantly reduced.”
With forestry not seen as a viable career option in recent times, Erica says SNIWC members are increasingly concerned because they struggle to attract talent from the universities.
With only one forestry degree available in New Zealand through Canterbury University, too few skilled workers are being produced for the demands of a growing industry increasingly requiring highly skilled workers.
“We’re talking about people with computer and GIS (Geographic Information Systems) technician skills, planning skills, economic skills, ﬁnancial skills – these are the people that are not coming into the industry because it doesn’t have the proﬁle that it used to and is not seen as a valid profession. We need to change that perception.”
This article was brought to you in association with the following businesses…
- Havard Logging Team