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Industry peak body urges locals to 'branch out' and carve a career in timber


Industry peak body urges locals to 'branch out' and carve a career in timber

LOGGING ON: A peak industry body for forestry in regional NSW has urged locals to consider a TAFE NSW Tumut course that could lead to a career in the industry.

7 July 2021

The head of the region’s peak forest industry body has urged local young people to consider a TAFE NSW course as a pathway to a career in forestry to help combat a growing skills shortage.

The forest and wood products industry generated $23.1 billion in revenue in the 2019-20 financial year and contributed more than $7 billion to Australia’s GDP but industry leaders say it is becoming increasingly difficult to attract skilled workers, particularly after the recent Black Summer bushfires decimated timber plantations on the South West Slopes.

Forestry remains the largest industry by employment in the Snowy Valleys Council, according to Economy ID.

Forest Industry Council (Southern NSW) chair Liz Austen said TAFE NSW Tumut’s Forest Industry Training Centre was a critical part of providing a skilled workforce of the future to the local industry.

“Forestry is so diverse and there are so many different pathways for young people to build a career,” Ms Austen said. The industry has been hit by a lot but it’s still surviving and thriving.

“We really need that pipeline of new workers coming through and TAFE NSW Tumut is the ideal training facility to provide that.”

A landmark report commissioned by the NSW Department of Industry and Forest and Wood Products Australia laid out the case for a more highly skilled future workforce.

“As the softwood industry evolves, there is growing demand for workers with specialised skills, including specialist engineers, scientists and mechanics,” the report said. “The need to have a skilled haulage workforce and to have workers with high level financial, middle management and information and communication technology (ICT) skills remains strong.”

Helen Russell, 27, is a Tumut woman who worked in the pharmacy industry for six years but was drawn to the forestry industry after taking a “gap job” in administration at Southern Cross Forests.

She has since enrolled in the Certificate IV in Forest Operations at TAFE NSW Tumut to give her the practical skills and real-world work experience to forge a career in forestry.

“I grew up in an ‘outdoorsy’ family and I always wanted to move into something that had an outdoor element,” Ms Russell said. “Working at Southern Cross has been really enjoyable and I’ve fallen in love with the industry.

“I wanted to expand my knowledge and be part of the big picture so I enrolled at TAFE NSW Tumut and it’s great to have hands-on training that’s been developed with industry.”

TAFE NSW Tumut Forestry Training Centre Leader Dallas Goldspink said the Certificate IV in Forest Operations was an industry leading pathway into forestry, with graduates securing position as foresters, field supervisors and operations supervisors. The course run part-time for two years and the next intake of students is on 12 July, 2021.

TAFE NSW is the only NSW-based training organisation offering the qualification.

For more information, call 13 16 01 or visit

Media contact: Daniel Johns, TAFE NSW Communications Specialist, (02) 6938 1441, mobile 0477 722 428