The Ontario Government will put money towards training people to go into the forestry industry.

The government is committing $5 million into training people at Algonquin College in Renfrew County and Fleming College in Haliburton. Minister of Natural Resources and Forestry (MNRF) John Yakabuski says it is part of the SkillsAdvance Ontario project through the Ministry of Labour, Training and Skills Development.

The money will go towards connecting employers with the colleges to see where they need workers most, and then train workers in those areas to help fill the needs of employers. For the forestry industry, training will be provided for a variety of skills like mill and manufacturing operations, field skills, and heavy equipment training.

Representatives from Algonquin College say that details are slim on exactly what will be offered yet, but they will work with their partners in the forestry industry to see what gaps need to be filled. Kris Heidman, Vice President at Heidman and Sons in Eganville, indicated that their workers would be trained in better harvesting techniques, harvesting simulation and lumber grading. In all, 450 jobseekers and employees will be receiving the training thanks to the provincial funding.

Yakabuski stressed that forestry jobs paid well, and wanted to bring more people to the industry. Staff at the MNRF saw that the workforce in the industry was ageing, but was not being replaced. The hope is through this funding that more young people, women, indigenous, and racialized people can be brought into the industry. In addition, due to the increasingly technical aspect of forestry work, the training with the colleges will help to address this shortfall. While Yakabuski says the forestry industry is sustainable, no industry can be if it doesn’t have a workforce.