Pathway into forestry for students

An innovative training course is helping Otago secondary school students get experience in the forestry industry and find jobs.

For the last three years Ernslaw One has been supporting the Forestry Pathways Course, run by Toko Training, an offshoot of Tokomairiro High School, which offers Year 12 and 13 students a pre-apprenticeship programme while they continue to work towards NCEA Level 2 and 3.

With Otago/Southland being the second largest forest region in the country, it is the ideal site for young men and women to explore forestry careers.  Learning involves both theoretical and hands-on practical components, with the students gaining experience with local forestry companies.

Lynda Allan, Programme Manager of Toko Training, says with plenty of forest owners but a shortage of skilled forestry workers, it makes them well placed to offer a solution to the problem.

“Many forestry blocks that were planted in the 1990s are nearing harvest and a shortage of reputable logging crews is a looming issue.  Forestry companies are crying out for more workers and our students are all but guaranteed positions on completion of their course,” says Ms Allan.

“The programme is providing a valuable career pathway for a number of students, many of whom would have been at risk of dropping out of school.  Not only have 90% of the students remained at school for the year, they have also completed NCEA Level 2 and gained many credits towards Level 3.”

The course includes Unit Standards in Health & Safety, Environment, and Personal Wellbeing followed by practical training in Silviculture practices – chainsaw operation, pruning, thin to waste operations and planting.  Visits to forestry companies, logging operations and regeneration removal completed the year-long course.

“We are very grateful to Ernslaw One for their ongoing funding and support of the course.  We need to source funding every year and they have supported us from day one both financially as well as providing opportunities for our young people,” concludes Ms Allan.

The course is run by Alistair McKenzie, from Johnston Forestry, a highly regarded trainer and moderator in the industry and alongside Ernslaw One, two other forestry companies, NZ Forest Owners and Otago Community Trust have also contributed to funding.

Share this story