Centre Targets Value-Aded Training
an estimated 30,000 skilled workers needed in the value-added sector in BC by 2001, the
industry has moved to address a potentially serious training shortfall.
By Robert Forrest
Copyright 1997. Contact publisher for permission to use.
As the fibre supply continues to shrink on the West Coast and the
new softwood lumber agreement with the US cuts into traditional markets, new ways to add
value and create jobs are needed. One option is the development of a strong
The result is a new focus on value-added hardwood production,
possible construction of a flooring mill, and modernization of their veneer mill.
The Ontario government has restricted white pine sawlog
harvesting in the Algoma region stretching from North Bay to Sault Ste. Marie. And in a
further cost-cutting measure, they have handed off forest management, traditionally
handled by their Ministry of Natural Resources, to the companies themselves.
Currently, there are more than 500 value-added remanufacturing
operations in BC. In 1990, there were 12,000 workers in BC's value-added sector and
predictions suggest over 30,000 by 2001. But one problem facing the value-added sector is
a serious shortage of skilled workers. "We have a skills gap in the province in the
value-added area,'' says Peter Vogt, director of the newly created Forest Renewal BC Value
Added Skills Centre that opened in Abbotsford, BC last October.
"The aim of the Centre is to fill that gap," says
Vogt. "We offer the Master Wood Machinists Program. It has four disciplines plus an
entry-level course called The Base Wood Technology Course. The disciplines are Gluing,
Sawing, Surfacing and Profiling Technologies. Each discipline is broken down into
one-week, severalcourse modules."
Touted as the first industry-led forestry training facility in
the world, the Centre is the result of joint efforts by Forest Renewal BC and the BC Wood
Specialties Group. The latter's goal is to improve member efficiency and export