Plan to grow forestry and wood-processing workforce

25 May 2020

The Government is joining forces with the forestry and wood-processing sector to help attract a diverse workforce of more than 5000 additional people in a post-COVID-19 world, Forestry Minister Shane Jones says.

The inaugural meeting of the Forestry and Wood Processing Workforce Council is being held today. The council will implement the Workforce Action Plan that was presented to Shane Jones in January and identify what should take priority as New Zealand emerges from COVID-19 lockdown.

“The forestry and wood-processing sector is at the heart of many regions and the communities within them. With a workforce of more than 38,500 and contributing more than $6.9 billion in export revenue, it will play a critical role in New Zealand’s economic recovery,” Shane Jones said.

“Forestry will play an important role in New Zealand’s rebuild from COVID-19. The world wants our timber and wood products and the industry needs more workers. There is a huge opportunity for people to retrain and take up work in the industry.

“It is estimated the forestry and wood-processing sector will need another 5000 workers by 2025. That’s why it's important for the Government and sector to work together.

“We need to build a fit-for-purpose education and training system that equips workers to carry out the increasingly sophisticated tasks in sustainable forest management and wood-processing.”

The action plan addresses common forestry and wood processing workforce challenges by complementing and building on existing initiatives, as well as beginning new ones. The actions initially cover the forest-growing industry, which includes nursery operations and the planting, maintenance management and harvesting of commercial forests and some parts of the primary wood-processing industry, specifically sawmilling and wood treatment.

“COVID-19 has been unprecedented global event, but one thing remains the same, New Zealand has some of the best timber and wood products in the world, we need a skilled workforce to keep this sector moving forward, and the world wants our high quality products. We need to seize that opportunity,” Shane Jones said.

The Forestry and Wood Processing Workforce Action Plan 2020-2024 and a high level summary can be found on the MPI website:

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