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April 1997 - Past Issue

CILA Training Program Has Applicants - But No Money

By Jim Stirling
Copyright 1997. Contact publisher for permission to use.

The future of a forest worker training program that's helped hundreds of loggers is in limbo. At press time, Forest Renewal BC was silent on a funding application by the Central Interior Logging Association (CILA) to continue its training courses for the next five years. CILA currently has 500 people on its waiting list.

"We're a litle edgy,'' understates Frank Drougel, CILA's general manager based in Prince George, BC.

The training courses appear to be a perfect fit with FRBC's mandate, a crown corporation that is funded by stumpage fees and other royalties paid by forest companies. Its goals include safeguarding forestry jobs and increasing economic and employment benefits from each tree harvested. CILA's courses have been completed by more than 260 people. They've been successful because they're designed by the log harvesting community for the log harvesting community. And they are offered at a time when provincial government regulations like the Forest Practices Code are increasing the responsibilities placed upon logging contractors and their front line crews. Everyone in the bush needs to know what they're doing at all times. To accomplish that, they need to understand the rules and upgrade their skills.

Within that context CILA developed its training programs, the latest in a long series of educational initiatives by the association. CILA initially applied through the Ministry of Education, Skills and Training and received FRBC funding of about $1 million for a one-year pilot program that finished at the end of March,1997. The association's steering committee, encouraged by the response and demand, decided longer-term planning was more appropriate for its training courses. Consequently, it put together a five-year proposal and submitted it to FRBC.

"The logger is a hard one to drag into a classroom but he recognizes the need to upgrade skills," says Drougel. "We've had response from trainees saying the course is great, only it's too short. When was the last time you heard a logger say that? This program, from my perspective, is really the first payback the logging community has gotten from government and its agencies."

CILA's basic forest workers skills package is broad-based and a pre-requisite for operational users. It encompasses everything from map and compass work to waste reduction, safety awareness and first aid, fire management, spill control WHMIS and the Forest Practices Code. The course takes seven days to complete.

Operational skills training includes butt'n'top loaders, processors, falling and bucking, including WCB falling certificate requirements. A truck-driving practicum for registrants with a Class 1 licence and air endorsement is also part of the program. "The whole system is designed to meet changes in demand from the forest industry,'' says Brian Brown of Free Spirit Venture Inc., CILA's training co-ordinator.

CILA also offers a week-long supervisory skills package, and 'train the trainers' sessions. Training programs have been offered throughout central and northern BC, from Fort St. John to Williams Lake.

CILA is developing an entrepreneurial skills package covering bookeeping and business management tasks like costing and scheduling. Its fate, too, hinges on funding.

CILA's training programs receive an enthusiastic thumbs-up from William Dawydiuk. "They've been going great guns,''reports the Williams Lake-based logging contractor and current chairman of CILA. Dawydiuk's been working in the bush for 30 years and says he has never witnessed more responsibilities placed upon the contractor and his crews. "They have to know what they're doing," he stresses.

He's put his crews through CILA's basic skills package to help meet the need for training to work in the woods today. "With the Forest Practices Code and related items you'd better carry your wallet with you and have it full of training course certificates,'' he recommends.

But like Drougel and Brown, Dawydiuk doesn't want to contemplate what will happen to several hundred loggers registered for training in the next few months without the FRBC funding, or the loss of practical training momentum that's finally been gained.

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Last modified 06/08/97

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