Tilhill, the UK’s leading woodland creation, forest management and timber harvesting company, and Foresight Sustainable Forestry Company Plc, the UK’s first listed natural capital investment company, are pleased to announce that the inaugural ‘Foresight Sustainable Forestry Skills Training Programme’ in Wales has now been successfully completed.
The programme was launched in the summer of 2022 to help young people within rural Wales gain employment in forestry within their local Welsh community. The UK is experiencing a skills shortage as it looks to meet ambitious targets to plant more trees to combat climate change and satisfy a growing need for home-grown timber. Targets cannot be met without upskilling and expanding the forestry contractor workforce.
Over 50 applicants applied for the programme and the four selected trainees have now completed their fully funded training over three separate weeks at Coleg Cambria Llysfasi, securing important qualifications in tree planting, chainsaw operating, tractor driving, and much more.
The four trainees – Lewis Hosking 20, Thomas Mellars, 24, Daniel Harrison, 22 and Rhys Jones, 16 – come from across Wales and from a variety of backgrounds.
Richard Kelly, co-lead of Foresight Sustainable Forestry Company, said: “Congratulations to Lewis, Thomas, Daniel and Rhys for successfully completing the first Foresight Sustainable Forestry Skills Training Programme. The skills, qualifications and safety equipment that the training has provided means they are now well-placed to work as contractors across the forestry industry and we very much look forward to welcoming them to our sites in Wales. Particularly given the UK’s ambitious tree planting targets, many young people from farming communities are becoming increasingly interested and enthusiastic about working in forestry. The excellent response to this training programme makes it an initiative which we would like to repeat annually, both in Wales and potentially expand into Scotland and England.”
Iwan Parry, Tilhill’s Regional Manager for Wales and a Chartered Forester said: “We are pleased to welcome four, fully trained new additions to the forest industry. They clearly have a great future ahead of them and we will see them again across woodland creation sites in Wales. The next step is for the trainees to receive mentoring from Tilhill Forest Managers, people with experience across full timber crop rotations including tree planting, woodland management and the harvesting and restocking of the best quality trees for home grown timber to supply local markets. This is especially important as the UK seeks to replace carbon-emitting steel and concrete in construction with home grown timber from sustainably managed forests.”
Andy White, Lead Forestry Lecturer at Coleg Cambria Llysfasi, said: “This course has been the most fantastic opportunity for the trainees to gain invaluable skills, experience and knowledge, and a fast track gaining a range of important qualifications which will set them up for many years to come in a career in forestry. The trainees were highly motivated and enthusiastic and did well to keep up with the intense pace and pressure of the training package.
“They have all benefited from this important collaboration between education and industry, in this truly groundbreaking scheme designed to help address the skills needs of young people, to help and encourage them in the early stages of their career, and to help improve the supply of trained and skilled workers in the forest industry of the future. With proper training to ensure workers are safe, effective and efficient, forestry offers a great many diverse job opportunities to work outdoors, in a modern, hi-tech and sophisticated industry. Our trainees are now well placed to take advantage of these opportunities and are all actively employed in forestry work. Anyone wishing to follow their example should get in touch with the college to discuss the range of courses available.”
Daniel Harrison, 22 from Ceredigion said: “It was one of the best experiences I’ve had to date! Would highly recommend to anyone wanting to do some training.”
Lewis Hosking, 20 who originally worked on a farm before becoming a forestry contractor, said: “I applied for the programme because I knew it would help me out later in life by having a lot more certificates and learning more about trees. I enjoyed the tractor and strimming course the most. I learned a lot and met lots of new people.”