Forest products industry trying to rebrand

It is estimated that 60,000 new workers will be needed by 2020.

The Forest Products Association of Canada (FPAC) estimates that the forest products industry will be hiring 60,000 new workers across Canada in the next five years.

“One of the reasons we need workers is because many of the baby boomers in the current workforce are retiring,” explained Susan Murray, Vice-President of Public Relations for FPAC. “But there are other important reasons as well – unlike the energy, mining and many other industries, the forest products industry is growing in size.”

According to the federal government, in 2014, the value of Canada’s forest product exports increased by 9.8 per cent over 2013, rising to $30.8 billion from $28.4 billion. Furthermore the industry has been shaping up to a dynamic new face.

The industry’s traditional products – pulp, paper and lumber – are being used to create new products such as renewable bio-fuels, green bio-plastics, bio-pharmaceuticals, bulletproof vests, car parts and airplane wings. Since the industry has become more innovative, diverse and technically advanced, there is a growing need for new types of skilled workers.

The long list of workers that the  industry requires include biologists, millwrights, electricians, engineers, sales staff, truck drivers, foresters, chemists, economist and risk analysts and IT specialists.

According to Murray, companies are already facing challenges to find the skilled workers they need. That is why the FPAC is now working to rebrand the industry in order to attract younger people and a wider range of professionals.

“Many people thought that the forest products industry was a sunset industry; we need to convince young people that instead the industry is modern and future oriented,” said Murray.

The FPAC has launched a campaign called “The Greenest Workforce” in an effort to connect young professionals to employers, as well as to rebrand the forest products industry as a “green industry.”

“Unlike the oil and gas industry, we are part of the solution to climate change as the world moves to a low carbon economy,” said Murray. “The forest products industry is an industry that understands the value of a renewable natural resource and it is always striving to find smart new ways to do more with wood fibre.”

In the story ‘Millennials, these career sectors are worth considering’ published in The Globe and Mail on Aug. 24, 2015, the forest products industry was selected as one of the most promising industries for young Canadian professionals.

“We feel that the forest industry is becoming more attractive,” said Murray.

To find out more about The Greenest Workforce campaign, visit http://thegreenestworkforce.ca/