HANDS ON: McAuley Catholic Central School student Kayla Smit shows off her chainsaw skills at the TAFE NSW Tumut pre-vocational training course in forestry.
A group of local high school students has been given a hands-on taste of a career in the forestry industry as part of a unique program offered by TAFE NSW Tumut.
Fourteen students from Tumut High School, Gundagai High School, Tumbarumba High School and McAuley Catholic Central School have this week completed the first ever TAFE NSW Tumut pre-vocational training course in forestry, which has armed them with a raft of new skills and nationally accredited qualifications in plantation forest and chainsaw operations.
A 2017 report by the Department of Industry and Forest and Wood Products Australia found the softwood plantation industry in South West Slopes was worth more than a billion dollars annually and employed close to 2000 people.
Add to that an ageing workforce and many of these students will be well-positioned for the industry’s jobs of tomorrow, according to TAFE NSW Forestry Teacher Adam Farquharson.
“There is an ageing workforce and there’s already a skills shortage in all facets of the timber industry, from operator level up to professional level,” Mr Farquharson said.
“This course gives these young people something tangible to get them a start in the industry and I was very impressed with you interested and engaged they were. For some of them, I have no doubt this will be the first step to a rewarding career in the industry.”
The pre-vocational course was funded by the NSW Government and the final 14 participants were chosen from 45 initial applicants.
The week-long course saw students learn about soil and water protection at Bondo Forest and learn practical chainsaw skills at Wondalga Scout Camp. They were also taken on an industry tour of the Visy Pulp and Paper Mill.
McAuley Catholic Central School student Kayla Smit, 16, said the course was an ideal primer for a career in the forestry industry.
“Both my parents are foresters and I’m intrigued by the industry,” Kayla said.
“We looked at so many different aspects of the industry in this course and I loved the fact we learned the theory and then went out in the field to put it into practice.
“It was really interactive and TAFE NSW treats you like an adult, not a kid.”
To find out more about studying forestry at TAFE NSW Tumut, phone 13 16 01 or visit www.tafensw.edu.au.
Media contact: Daniel Johns, TAFE NSW Media and Communications – Business Partner, 6938 1441, mobile 0477 722 428.