Foresight Sustainable Forestry & Tilhill complete skills training programme

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, have announced the successful completion of the 2023 Foresight Sustainable Forestry Skills Training Programme in Scotland and Wales.

Launched in 2022, the programme aimed to help young people in rural Wales to gain employment opportunities in forestry by providing training, health and safety equipment and mentoring. Due to its success, the programme was extended into Scotland for the following year’s candidate intake, in partnership with Scotland’s Rural College (SRUC).

The UK is experiencing a critical forestry skills shortage as it strives to meet tree planting targets to combat climate change and meet the increasing demand for homegrown timber. In 2023, approximately 80% of all timber used in the UK was imported, making the country the third-largest global timber importer – highlighting a clear need to upskill and expand the forestry contractor workforce.

Over 70 young people applied for the latest programme and the 10 selected candidates have now completed their fully funded training at Coleg Cambria, Llysfasi and at SRUC Barony Campus, Dumfries, securing important qualifications in chainsaw operating, tractor driving, tree planting and much more.

The trainees come from diverse backgrounds across their respective regions. Tilhill has now employed the Wales candidates as contractors to carry out planting works in its woodland creation sites.

One of the Scottish programme candidates is now undertaking a pre-apprenticeship programme with Forestry & Land Scotland. The candidate will also have the opportunity to join a Tilhill contractor and member of BSW Group, Dick Brothers Forestry, the UK timber harvesting experts for a further 6-month apprenticeship.

Richard Kelly, Co-Lead of Foresight Sustainable Forestry Company, said, “Congratulations to the Wales and Scotland trainees for successfully completing the second iteration of the Foresight Sustainable Forestry Skills Training Programme. They have shown remarkable dedication and commitment to acquiring the essential skills needed for an exciting career in forestry. These individuals’ newly acquired skills will no doubt be in high demand, in an industry where there is a national skilled workforce shortage. These individuals represent the fresh and diverse talent that the nation’s woodlands need.

“The candidates now have an opportunity to play a major role within their local environment and their communities, nurturing woodlands that will directly contribute to the UK’s Net Zero and biodiversity targets. The success of this year’s programme highlights the value of investing in the next generation of forestry professionals, empowering local communities to contribute to the twin fights against climate change and biodiversity loss.”

David Edwards, Tilhill’s Forestry Director said, “It brings great pleasure to be able to welcome ten newly qualified people into the forest industry in Scotland and Wales as a result the fully funded Foresight Sustainable Forestry Skills Training Programme.

“Tilhill is very proud to have partnered with both SRUC in Barony and Coleg Cambria Llysfasi to deliver this programme which has truly upskilled these candidates in a variety of forestry related activities ensuring a strong foundation for their future careers within the forest industry.”

Sean Hain, programme trainee candidate at SRUC said, “I felt very grateful to be a part of the Foresight Sustainable Forestry programme and had a great time learning about the various roles that contribute to the forestry industry as a whole. The intensive nature of the course provided a full-on learning experience which, although difficult at times, was very rewarding when you look back at the achievements at the end of the month.

“The investment into myself as an individual was an honour and further motivated me to commit 100% to the process.”

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