Finding forestry work in the 21st century

May 4, 2016

By: CKNW

Forestry. Since B.C.’s inception, it’s been one of our province’s driving industries. But in the 21st century is it still relevant?

For the next part of CKNW’s series, Putting BC To Work, The Drex Live Show highlights the pros and cons of getting into the forestry sector.

“We’re looking at recruiting about 2,700 people a year over the next 10 years to replace those folks in the sector. Many of those jobs, key occupations industrial electricians, power engineers, heavy mechanics, truck drivers, ect. Those are also in high demand by other sectors.”

That’s Susan Yurkovich, President and CEO of the Council of Forest Industries, talking about current and future job opportunities in the B.C. forestry sector. 27,000 jobs over the next 10 years sounds pretty good, but how does it compare to other industries?

According to the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers, the natural gas sector employed more than 172,000 Canadians in direct, indirect and induced jobs in 2010 and this number is expected to nearly double across Canada by 2035. So it seems like the forestry industry is competing on par with other natural resource industries in the province.

Timber in Danish plantation

Training up

Still interested? Let’s see what Yurkovich says about getting your training.

“It depends on which avenue you want to follow, but certainly the trades institutions, the universities have forestry programs, they have wood products manufacturing programs. A number of the trades institutions also offer technicians programs, those are all good places to start. You can also come to the COFI website and have a look on there and there’s many connections to organizations that are supporting training for potential employees in the sector.”

Province-wide

Lumberjack

Well now you know how to get the proper education and training to get a job in the forestry sector, but first, here’s some fun facts. Did you know that the B.C. forestry contributes $12-billion annually to the provincial GDP and the forestry sector directly accounts for over 20% of the income in 170 municipalities across Canada. Sounds pretty neat, right?

Naturally when I think of the forestry sector, I assume jobs are only available in B.C.’s most remote areas, but Yurkovich says that’s not the case.

“We do certainly have facilities, approximately 300 manufacturing facilities all over the province in British Columbia, but Vancouver is also a forest dependent community, when you think about the jobs that are tied to the sector here. So we have a number of the head offices here with accountants, we have councils, et. cetera.”

There’s jobs in Vancouver that are related in the forest sector, but we also have jobs in the regions around the province in our manufacturing facilities, forestry operations, etc.

 

A day in the life

Alright, let’s highlight what we’ve learned so far. We’ve compared the forestry industry to other natural resource industries in the province, we’ve told you where you can get your training, and that you don’t have to live in the sticks to get a forestry job. But what does the day in the life of a Registered Professional Forester look like? Well, I found Austin Tate-Teti who lives and works in Williams Lake as a Registered Professional Forester.

“It can be really vast, just due to the fact that there are so many different jobs that a forester does. For myself, I’m a District Engineering Officer and a Land Officer with the Ministry of Forest, Lands, and Natural Resources Development. So I review applications that are submitted by companies and individuals under the Land Act, so if you want to get an aggregate quarry, an industrial camp, agricultural leases, telecommunication lines, you want to occupy Crown Land, you put in an application and I review it. And from the District Engineering perspective, I just ensure that resource roads, forestry resource roads are managed safely and are upgraded as they need to be.”

Man Planting a Tree

I asked Austin what advice he would give people who are either changing careers and looking for a new industry, high school students who are looking to take the next step. What about the forestry industry should people know?

“You can work for consulting companies, you can do stream classification, you could do GPS if you like that, you can even be agrologist as a forester–so you can do agriculture, you can do soils, if you like to grow things you can grow trees for reforestation, silviculture. If you like fire, there’s the ability to deal with fire or ecology. If you don’t even like the outdoors, there’s lots of indoor opportunities, we have timber pricing, you have planning for large forest companies, if you like bugs we have forest health, there’s even people who fly drones.”

And lastly, do Susan and Austin see a future in the forestry industry?

“Yes, I mean the industry is a resource sector and it has it’s ups and downs, but we have a long history of successful forestry operations, forest sector businesses in the province of British Columbia and I see that going well into the future.”

Austin agrees.

“I’m happy to be part of the profession, they’re sustainable, well managed, diverse forest ecosystems, so like you said it’s ebb and flow, but I think the professionals that are managing are doing a great job and it will be there for a long time. It will meet the values that society wants to have met.”

By: CKNW

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