By Mark LaFleur
Canadian forest product companies will need to hire 60,000, or more, new workers by 2020 to meet demand. One way to attract new workers is to allow interested students the opportunity to see forestry operations and the skilled positions up close. That is exactly what happened last week as COFI’s Forest Education Program in partnership with Canfor Fort St. John took over 20 high school students to an active cut block.
Students from grades 10 to 12 from North Peace Secondary (Fort St. John) visited an active cut block approximately 1 hour west of town in minus 28 degree weather. Being ‘tough and resilient’ from living in the north, the students were very excited to join Canfor’s Wes Neumeier and Dean Dickinson on a tour of the activities and operations on the active cut block. The students learned about the many decisions that go into planning harvesting operations in an area such as timber supply, road access, environmental considerations, and plans for the area after harvesting occurs. The students were able to examine all the harvesting equipment that was operating on the site including skidders, feller bunchers, loaders, and many logging trucks. Most importantly the students were able speak to the operators themselves about skills & training required, working conditions, day-to-day duties, wages & benefits, and what they enjoy most about their career.
At the end of the day the students went home with a greater appreciation of the opportunities that exist in the Forest Industry, a possible goal of becoming a Harvesting Operator themselves, and a smile on their faces from all the ‘cool’ equipment and technology that they saw in action!