Forestry Jobs Summit a “catalyst for job opportunities” says Ewing

The forestry sector is leading the way in helping employers secure public funding to recruit more young people into the industry.

Under a new Growing Rural Talent initiative, forestry companies are being encouraged to take on new young staff through generous subsidies.

The initiative and other support for prospective employers were highlighted in the recent Forestry Jobs Summit, organised by the Industry Leadership Group and attended by Rural Economy Secretary Fergus Ewing and key forestry organisations.     

Already, forestry companies Tilhill, Egger and James Jones & Sons are providing new young recruits an exciting first step into forestry. During the summit, a further two companies confirmed their plans to offer opportunities for new starts.

Welcoming the drive to recruit more young people into the forest industries, Mr Ewing said:

“The forestry sector in Scotland is a success story. It generates around £1 billion to the economy each year and supports around 25,000 jobs. Timber production levels are increasing and in the years to come we will need to have a young skilled workforce in place to meet demand.

“I am pleased that both Scottish Forestry and Forestry and Land Scotland have doubled their intake of opportunities for young people.

“This is a great start and I’m very encouraged to hear that two other companies have confirmed their plans to take on young people. It is very welcome news that the private sector is helping new people into the industry – I hope we can build on this and offer many more similar opportunities. ”

Stuart Goodall, Chief Executive of forestry and wood trade body Confor, said: 

“Forestry and wood processing is a sector on the up and very much of its time. By planting more trees, managing them well and using more home-grown wood, we can lock up carbon to help Scotland achieve its world-leading climate change targets. The drive to reach net zero by 2045 means we will need many more low-carbon businesses, and far more young people with a wide range of forestry and wood-using skills who want to be part of this ambitious, exciting journey.”

A partnership between Dumfries & Galloway Council, Skills Development Scotland, Scottish Forestry, Lantra Scotland and Forestry and Land Scotland will align the Growing Rural Talent initiative with national funding.

The initiative is funded under Kickstart and the Young Person’s Guarantee. It will provide up to 100 per cent financial support to private sector employers for the first six month period, and then at a rate of 50 per cent for a further six months, dependant on an actual job opportunity.

There is also a training budget for each person of £1,500 which will help to prepare them to work in a forestry situation. To take advantage of the financial support, companies across Scotland should register their initial interest with Dumfries and Galloway Council before the 8th January.

Rob Davidson, Chair of Dumfries and Galloway Council’s Economy and Resources Committee added:  “I’m very pleased to see the launch of this new initiative to attract young people into the forestry sector. It is an important employer for our region in its various forms, provides a variety of rewarding career opportunities and is in need of more young people.”

Scottish Forestry will be taking on six undergraduate Assistant Woodland Officers due to start in the New Year. Forestry and Land Scotland is recruiting more than 30 new apprentices during 2021.

A new Forestry Careers Toolkit, which will help employers in the sector attract new talent, is being prepared by Scottish Forestry and is expected to be launched in the New Year.