New apprenticeship scheme to train forestry machine operators

New apprenticeship scheme to train forestry machine operators

Young people looking to pursue an exciting and challenging career in forestry are being invited to apply for a new apprenticeships scheme based in south Scotland.

The scheme, driven by the Scottish Forest and Timber Technologies Industry Leadership Group (STTILG), aims to train young people to operate the hi-tech cutting edge machinery used in the harvesting and primary processing of timber.

The recruitment process for the first four apprentices will begin on 10 October.

Martin Gale, Chair of BSW and the Leadership Group, said;

“The shortage of new young entrants to forestry has been an industry-wide concern for some time. This has become particularly acute as the harvesting demand has increased and many existing workers are reaching retirement age or are returning to continental Europe. 

“It was clear that we needed to develop a fit-for-purpose machine operator training scheme that is viable and meets the needs of the whole sector. Thanks to the efforts of the industry partners, Forest Enterprise Scotland, Skills Development Scotland and of training providers we can now offer a pilot Modern Apprenticeship scheme that will provide in-depth training and the opportunity to consolidate their skills, which will improve trainee productivity and employability.”

The new apprenticeship will be delivered through SRUC Barony and will build on the interim programme of short courses co-ordinated by UKFPA – in partnership with SRUC Barony and John Deere. The Scottish School of Forestry is looking to establish a similar scheme from 2019.

The scheme has also won praise from Cabinet Secretary for the Rural Economy, Fergus Ewing.

Mr Ewing said;

“Previous discussions with the forest industries have made clear the need to invest in young people and new skills to help ensure the sector’s future success.

“Thanks to the foresight and excellent partnership work being led by the Forest and Timber Technologies Industry Leadership group, this new Modern Apprenticeship scheme will be operational by the end of the year. This approach is both vital and valuable and is a sustainable and inclusive way forward, which I whole heartedly welcome.

“Increasing skilled opportunities for young people in forestry is also an undertaking in the Scottish Government’s Programme for Government and I am pleased to announce that Forestry Commission Scotland is supporting this industry initiative.”

The establishment of the pilot scheme has also resulted in a unique partnership between the private sector and Forest Enterprise Scotland, which will employ the four apprentices for their first year. Two will remain with FES for the second year and two will be employed by Treetop Forestry and Elliot Henderson Timber Harvesting.

Four harvesting machines will be provided free by John Deere and Komatsu, with other companies providing fuel and ancillary equipment.

The pilot scheme will be reviewed after one year with a view to offering  more apprenticeship places to young people.

Anyone looking to apply should visit here.