‘An increase in timber production requires a trained workforce’
A new training course for forestry machine operators at the Teagasc Agricultural College in Ballyhaise, Co. Cavan is set to be developed.
The news was announced by Minister of State at the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine with responsibility for forestry Andrew Doyle.
A new harvester/forwarder simulator, which will form an important element in the training, was also unveiled by the Minister.
The development of this new training course will help the forestry sector in Ireland to grow while also providing a trained workforce to manage it, according to Minister Doyle.
“A vibrant forestry sector provides an important source of revenue for the rural economy.
The increase in timber production requires a trained workforce to enable harvesting, extraction and transporting of this timber.
“The training programme now being put in place will deliver recognised certification for students and is an important step in underpinning this sector,” he said.
A report published by the Council for Forest Research and Development (COFORD) in 2015 noted that a well-organised and structured training programme for harvesting machine operators is needed at a national level.
A programme of this nature is needed in order to support high quality thinning operations and aid in the mobilisation of roundwood, the report found.
The training programme now being put in place will deliver recognised certification for students to QQI (Quality and Qualifications Ireland) and City and Guilds standards.
The new course will mean that students can learn these new skills here in Ireland rather than having to travel abroad, according to the Department.
The co-operation between industry representative groups and educators in the development of the training initiative was also welcomed by the Minister.
The lessons learned in the classroom and on the simulator can be taken to the next level on actual harvesters and forwarders.
“The commitments given by industry representatives will enable this continuity which will enhance the effectiveness and success of the course,” he said.