New Zealand forestry rising stars revealed

Monday 18 July 2011, 6:22PM




Thirty one top performers are in line for the wood industry’s most sought after awards after being selected as finalists in the National Training Awards run by FITEC, the forest and wood industry training organisation.

The annual awards showcase outstanding candidates and companies operating in New Zealand’s multi-billion-dollar wood industry.

The finalists have been handpicked from around 7,000 trainees within the broader forest and wood manufacturing sector, an industry which consists of some 20,000 employees in total.

“Our finalists come from all corners of the country,” says FITEC Chief Executive, Ian Boyd, “We have people from small operations and larger businesses from within the forestry, sawmilling, furniture, wood panels and pulp and paper sectors. New Zealand’s wood industry is dynamic and diverse and all contributes to annual earnings throughout the industry sector of around $3.7 billion.”

This year’s finalists include a young Whakatane woman who is a full time hauler and in charge of an all male crew, a young timber machinest from Thames who is leading the way with productivity, quality and leadership skills, and a company in Winton so dedicated to investing in their staff, they are signed up to training the moment they are employed by the company.

“For many of our finalists – it is a huge feat getting this far,” he says, “They have achieved qualifications while working. This is a real challenge but the outcome is great for their careers and for raising skill levels within the industry.”

Winners of the FITEC National Training Awards will be announced at a gala dinner and awards ceremony, to be held at the Rotorua Energy Events Centre on 7 September 2011.

Awards are given in 11 categories. The categories and their prizes are:

Modern Apprentice of the Year (Forestry) – finalists $250, winner $1000
Modern Apprentice of the Year (Wood Manufacturing) – finalists $250, winner $1000
Trainee of the Year (Forestry) – finalists $250, winner $1000
Trainee of the Year (Wood Manufacturing) – finalists $250, winner $1000
Trainee of the Year (Furniture) (furniture piece entry) – finalists $500, winner $1000
Training Company of the Year (Forestry) – $1000 in FITEC training
Training Company of the Year (Wood Manufacturing) – $1000 in FITEC training
Training Company of the Year (Furniture) - $1000 in FITEC training
Outstanding Business Performance through People Development – $1000 in FITEC training
FITEC Training Leader of the Year – $1000 Air NZ travel voucher.
ACC Health and Safety Initiative award - $1000 in FITEC training

A new Health & Safety award has been introduced this year targeted at those companies that have instigated an initiative which has made a huge difference to employee safety and productivity.

The forest industry has shown significant improvements in this area over recent years and is now one of the leading performers for innovation and effectiveness of safety initiatives.

“Safety is paramount in our industry,” Ian says, “New and improved health and safety initiatives will lead to improved employee well being, and in turn higher productivity. We are delighted to introduce this new category to our awards so that outstanding companies get the recognition they deserve.”

Mr Boyd says education and training is crucial for this nationally important industry which is New Zealand’s third largest primary industry export earner. It has been shown to lead directly to productivity improvements and greater job satisfaction.

“Training in the workplace is a major part of vocational education in New Zealand. Some 70 per cent of school leavers don’t go to university and rely on vocational education. The training we do in the forest and wood industry not only improves skill levels but it also lifts individual educational achievements. This improves trainee career prospects and often encourages other family and friends towards further education. In a national context this is significant from both an economic and social point of view. Industry training and vocational education is often undervalued in New Zealand and our FITEC National Training awards help to illustrate this potential value.”