It is predicted that there will by an estimated decrease of 300 in numbers employed 2001-06. Business numbers are expected to remain static 2001 to 2006.
It is also important to assess the likely 'job opportunities' created through the need to replace people who retire, change career, as well as any net demand created through employment expansion. Even where employment is declining overall, net occupational demand can still generate a significant number of 'job opportunities' and therefore related training requirements.
Formal training (with certification) is reported to be increasingly paramount for those working in the forestry industry, driven by regulatory requirements, mechanisation, the use of ICT and the need for business skills over the next few years. The increase in harvesting volume will generate a demand for establishment and maintenance skills. Specific training needs are in harvesting operations, where there is believed to be a shortage of skilled machine operators and foremen. Other areas of need include risk assessment, contract management, job planning and costing, and knowledge of woodland grant schemes. Generic skills such as communication and information technology are also required to ensure cohesion between all the sectors in the wood supply chain.
The forestry industry is relatively small and spread widely across the UK. Some colleges offer courses in forestry and/or arboriculture (usually in combination with another subject such as agriculture) and the industry is supported by many skilled staff trained by the Forestry Commission. The industry's previous reliance on recruitment of technically skilled Forest Enterprise staff is now exhausted as Forestry Commission staff direct employment has fallen. The Forestry and Arboriculture Safety Training Council (FASTCO) maintains occupational standards and makes them available to all workers.
There are currently 127 qualifications available to the forestry and arboriculture industries mostly in FC/FD, NC/ND and HNC/HND provision. The most used qualification is the SQA NC Forestry/Timber Production at notional level 3. The least used qualifications include a number of NVQ/SVQs as well as the Edexcel and SQA HNC/HNDs. The NVQ/SVQs will be revised as part of the standards review and the Edexcel and City and Guilds provision is all being rationalised over the next year. As well as removal and revision of qualifications Edexcel will be introducing a FC and FD in Countryside and Forestry and a NC and ND in Forestry and Arboriculture. Once all the changes have been made there will be no obvious gaps in provision for the industry.
Estimated Required Workforce Skill Levels Compared to Estimated Workforce Qualifications
There is a lack of qualified people at NVQ/SVQ level 3 and above. It is possible that many workers with low/no qualifications have considerable skills at higher levels although not evidenced by formal qualifications.
Only 16% of forestry businesses surveyed by Lantra reported a current vacancy, but 36% a recruitment difficulty over the past 12 months. 63% reported difficulties recruiting unskilled workers. Reasons for recruitment difficulty were reported as:
29% of forestry businesses reported a skills gap within their workforce. Business respondents associated their most significant skills gaps with employees from the more highly skilled occupations, see below:
The most significant skills gaps were job specific skills, basic information technology and showing initiative.
Alongside planting and felling trees forestry workers do fencing, drainage, etc
Some of the qualities you need are:
If you decide to work with the public in some way, for example being a warden for a national park or a forest officer, you should also enjoy meeting people and be able to communicate well. More jobs these days require you to use new technology, from computers to mobile 'phones.
Some jobs will only be available to self-employed contractors, so if you want to run your own business you will need all the qualities above especially working under pressure, organisational skills and handling difficult situations and people! But you will also need experience of:
Many of skills can be gained through short courses at your local college or the industry training bodies mentioned below. Trade associations can also advise on some of these issues.