How forestry is preparing its future workforce

Friday 2 Aug 2019

Ongoing evolution and rapid advancements in technology have led the forestry sector to take steps towards preparing current and future workers for the changing demands of the industry. The latest episode of Forest and Wood Products Australia’s (FWPA) WoodChat podcast focuses on initiatives that are equipping the industry’s future leaders, and engaging young people from disciplines not traditionally associated with forestry.

During the episode, the hosts discuss the FWPA-supported For Our Future initiative – an experiential program focusing on regional and collaborative leadership. Now into its second year, the program aims to identify and help train future leaders in the sector, while providing connections to set up opportunities for collaboration in the future.

Matthew Linnegar, Chief Executive of the Australian Rural Leadership Foundation, which runs the program, said the objective is to help produce leaders across the sector, no matter what skills are required in the future.

“Do we require people who can look beyond their own organisations and start acting in the broader interests of the sector? Yes, we do! Do we need people who can communicate well, and who can form relationships, even with those with whom they are in competition? Yes, we do!” Matthew said.

“The program has multiple benefits. Firstly, the individual participants will benefit from developing their own abilities as leaders. Secondly, their organisations will benefit from strong leadership abilities they bring back with them. And thirdly, we hope the sector will start to think, act and interact in a more unified way.”

The episode also considers the differing skill sets that will be required by the industry in the future. The hosts chat to data scientist James Kondilios of the Australian National University, a recently announced recipient of an ABARES Science and Innovation Award. James discusses his research, which he hopes will advise plantation managers about eucalyptus variants that will thrive in a future warmer and drier climate, and how he ended up applying his skills to the area of forestry.

“Prior to my involvement with the forestry industry, I didn’t know there was a need for data scientists. I believe the more people like myself who see the sorts of problems we can help the forestry industry to solve, the more people with these sorts of skills the industry will attract,” James said.

WoodChat represents FWPA’s commitment to engaging new ways of communicating industry news and innovations. Each episode includes in-depth conversations with experts on recent discoveries, innovations and initiatives. You can listen to WoodChat on SoundCloud and iTunes.

Source: FWPA

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