North Island College is going to be offering tuition-free training for aspiring forestry workers

Those new to the forestry sector will be offered free programs for a range of jobs.

They’ll be delivered through a 12-week course being piloted at six post-secondary schools.

Programs will be available midway through the year.

Other schools involved include:

  • Coast Mountain College – Terrace
  • Selkirk College – Grand Forks
  • College of New Caledonia – Vanderhoof
  • Vancouver Island University

Okanagan College delivered the program at its Revelstoke campus in 2019.

“I was raised in a logging family and know first-hand the challenges this industry has faced over the decades. It is so important that we invest in the people and families that fuel communities across the province,” said education minister, Melanie Mark. 

“These pilots are providing training opportunities and pathways for the next generation to thrive in the changing forestry industry.”

The project will be led by the BC Forest Safety Council (BCFSC). Training materials will also be integrated into existing programs at two post-secondary schools.

“The forestry sector is facing slowdowns that were years in the making, but there remains a need in some areas for new workers,” forestry minister Doug Donaldson said. 

“Ensuring students have the skills the forestry sector needs to grow supports economic development and provides good jobs for entry-level workers.”

On top of earning safety certificates, students will learn skills required for forestry jobs ranging from tending tree stands to mechanical harvesting. 

The province says small class sizes of six to eight students and interactive learning “will allow students to gain knowledge and skills, including chainsaw operation and wildland firefighting.”

Approximately $500,000 for the project is from the Sector Labour Market Partnerships Program through the Canada-BC Labour Market Development Agreement.

The funding is in addition to the $12 million the province committed to retraining initiatives, as part of an overall commitment of $69 million to support impacted communities, workers and employers in the forestry sector.