The B.C. government is investing $126,500 to help build and expand the province's forestry workforce under a Labour Market Partnerships Program agreement with the Council of Forest Industries (COFI).
This six-month project, which is funded through the Canada - British Columbia LabourMarket Development Agreement (LMDA), will identify forestry labour market trends, gaps and challenges with employee recruitment and training.
This project supports the development of the BC Pulp and Paper Human Resource Committee. The committee will develop a partnership of key organizations in the forestry sector to enhance the overall effectiveness of recruitment, training and retention of workers. The project, which is expected to conclude in September 2013, will require research and analysis, drafting recommendations, and developing a human resource strategy for the pulp and paper sector.
Minister of Jobs, Tourism and Skills Training and Minister Responsible for Labour Pat Bell says the government is committed to supporting B.C.'s forestry sector by way of a strong workforce.
"That's why we are providing funding to industry leaders like the Council of Forest Industries to address key labour market issues and identify ways to recruit and keep skilled employees through the BC Pulp and Paper HR Committee," he says.
COFI works with governments, communities, organizations, and individuals to ensure that forest policies in B.C. support the forestry sector and those who are dependent on the sector for business income or family supporting jobs.COFI works within the national and international Canada Wood partnership to improve access to markets in B.C. and overseas, including Japan, China and Korea.
In 2012-13, the $280-million LMDAbudget is being used to provide employment assistance services, job-creation partnerships, labour market partnerships, self-employment, skills development and targeted wage subsidies programs.
The Canada - British Columbia Labour Market Development Agreement (LMDA) Labour Market Partnership program provides financial assistance to encourage, support and facilitate labour force adjustments and human resource planning activities that are in the public interest.
In British Columbia, funding under the LMDA is used to support labour market programs and services for residents who are collecting Employment Insurance (EI) benefits or have received them in the last three years, or for parents re-entering the labour force who have collected EI parental benefits in the last five years. It also is used to support employers in addressing human resources challenges.
"The pulp and paper sector currently employs 12,000 people, and we need to ensure we have the necessary skills training in place to support future job opportunities in this sector," says Minister of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations Steve Thomson.
Nick Arkle, chair, Council of Forest Industries agrees. "Preparing our next generation of skilled workers and leaders is a priority for all segments of the forest sector if we are to take full advantage of the many opportunities in front of us. We welcome this opportunity to work with government in developing and executing the program."
Under the BC Jobs Plan and BC Skills and Training Plan, government is actively working to ensure that British Columbians have the skills they need to be first in line for jobs in the province through an investment of $75 million for new capital and equipment to complement $500 million in annual investments in employment and skills training programs.
Photo courtesy of Malene Thyssen.