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Funding boost for Generation Programme

Published by Joy Hellyer | 10 December 2020

Eastland Wood Council’s Generation Programme has received a huge boost from Te Uru Rākau (Forestry New Zealand) who have topped up the coffers by NZ$441,000 through its One Billion Trees Programme.

EWC chief executive Kim Holland says the funding has secured the future of the programme for the next two years. “It is fantastic to strengthen our relationship with Te Uru Rākau through this kind of support and to see them invest in forest industry training like this,” said Ms Holland.

“It means we can continue to develop the programme to ensure it meets industry needs. This recognises the success of our Generation Programme in providing skills and people to our industry work ready. The industry and contractors are snapping up our trainees – that says so much.” At the heart of the programme is health and safety, ongoing training and plenty of mentoring to give candidates the best possible chance of success in the future.

“The forestry industry is a significant employer on the East Coast and there is an ongoing demand for skilled and trained forestry workers. To ensure there are trained people, ready to go and aware of the hazards of their work, sound training programmes, such as the Generation Programme, are required,” says Annie Hindle, Acting Director of Forest Development, Grants, and Partnerships, Te Uru Rākau.

“We are proud to support the Eastland Wood Council in their efforts to provide contractors with ‘work ready’ employees by investing in the training and upskilling of our forestry workforce.”

Ms Holland says COVID has meant a particularly tough year for so many, but Te Uru Rākau stepped in to support when it was needed. “Our programme has had to adapt as things rolled out. We established online learning during COVID Alert Levels 3 and 4, and made sure our trainees were all safe when returning to the new normal.”

There are currently 14 contractors working with the Generation Programme, all of whom contract to EWC member companies. “The success of this programme comes through our ability to continue to recruit, even in a very challenging year,” says Ms Holland who also tipped her hat to programme manager Siobhain Fyall.

The programme is now in its third year, and the current intake is its seventh. “It is great we have the continuity of both the programme and the ability to retain the likes of Siobhain and continue to grow the forestry industry relationship with Tūranga Ararau whose pastoral care involvement had been crucial to success for a number of candidates.

“We have interest in the programme from far and wide, with trainees moving to Gisborne to train with us and then work in local forestry,” says Ms Holland. “We have been blown away by the number of women who are stepping up to take part in the programme. It is great to see and it is making such a difference to people’s lives.”

Over the three years, there have been over 60 trainees, with 33 trainees – men and women – continuously employed in forestry, with 14 more moving into other industries.

Next year the programme will accept rolling enrolments, allowing people to tap into the training as they are looking for work. “It also means we can place trainees into employment on a rolling basis so the contractors don’t have to wait for the end of a cohort.” The practice has already been successfully trialled with trainees who entered the programme with experience but needing to gain tickets.

The newly-formed Central North Island Wood Council is in the throes of establishing its own Generation Programme in Tokoroa where they will follow the Tairāwhiti blue-print but tailor it to meet the requirements of the industry in their region. “I am very proud of what we have achieved here and we are all looking forward to 2021,” said Ms Holland.

Photo: Generation #7 on a site visit - Pete, Damon Ashley, Harli, Api, Siobhain (GP Manager) Mike, Vaughan, CPM Logging at Waituna Forest with Logic Forest Solutions

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