Given some of the bad news stories about the forest industry over the previous decade, I often get quizzical looks from people when I tell them that we need to hire at least 60,000 new employees from general labourers to highly specialized engineers by the year 2020. 

We have identified this human resource need as one of the three critical elements of achieving Vision2020 (https://www.fpac.ca/vision2020). These new employees with a range of skills and education will be needed as we target an additional $20 billion of economic activity as part of Vision2020. 

In addition to sales of traditional forest products, our member companies are pursuing innovation strategies for bioenergy, bio-chemicals and new value-added construction products.  There will also be an ever increasing demand from the growing middle class of India and China and other markets for wood and pulp and paper from Canadian companies.  So a combination of new products and new markets will drive this additional economic activity.

To successfully deliver these new products and opening these new markets, we will need bright young enthusiastic employees.  Our studies estimate that we will need to replace as many as 40,000 baby-boomers who will soon retire and fill an additional 20,000 new positions.

Unfortunately, the media stories about plant closures and lay-offs in the recent past sent a negative signal to young people considering a career in the forest sector and many of their parents and family members, who had experienced those difficult times, actively discouraged them from considering the forest sector.

That is why the Forest Products Sector Council commissioned a study into the labour force challenges in the forest sector.  With the results of this study and surveys by FPAC, we decided to create a web site and launch a social media awareness campaign to promote the forest industry to the next generation.

The web site is full of information for anyone considering a career in the forest industry.  There are more than 40 different videos from real people working in the forest sector explaining what they do.  When watching these short videos, you feel the enthusiasm of the workers and understand why they find their job interesting and rewarding.

Also on the web site, there are fact sheets explaining the skills and education required for many of the jobs along with estimates of salary ranges for the various types of positions.  There are links to company web sites and much more. 

If you haven’t taken a couple of minutes to explore some of the testimonial videos I would encourage you to do so. In fact I hope you will tell all your friends about his helpful and informative web site.  (http://thegreenestworkforce.ca/index.php/en).

I want to thank all the companies as well as the federal government making this web site a reality.  The FPAC staff person who worked tirelessly for this project was Monica Bailey.  She was helped significantly by our FPAC Human Resource Committee chaired by Stu Dornbierer from DMI.  The research studies and much of the background work to pull the information together was done through the Forest Products Sector Council – ably lead by Jim Farrell. 

Putting this type of project together takes hundreds of person hours and talent and enthusiasm from everyone involved.  On behalf of the forest companies who will benefit from the new recruits thank you for your help.  I believe this web site will literally influence people’s lives and help them make the right career choices.

In my next Blog I’ll tell you more about the Green Dream Internship Program – a creative summer internship campaign we designed to help promote the Greenestworkforce.ca website.