Looking over the Notaras and Sons sawmill are the managing director, Spiro Notaras, Lyndall Bull of the National Association
Looking over the Notaras and Sons sawmill are the managing director, Spiro Notaras, Lyndall Bull of the National Association

Timber industry?s challenge

By JULIA ILES

ATTRACTING skilled employees to the Valley is the forestry industry's greatest challenge, according to preliminary research of a new audit by the National Association of Forest Industries.

The senior forest research analyst, Lyndall Bull, visited Grafton yesterday to speak with industry employers as part of a nation-wide study into addressing skills shortages.

"Grafton is a forestry hub and there seems to be a new movement of work opportunities available, there is also great competition for the skilled workers," she said.

"Increasingly we are seeing more sophisticated equipment at every level, right through to harvesting mechanisms in the bush, to milling."

The production supervisor, Trevor Bailey, who works for Notaras and Sons sawmill in South Grafton, has observed the technological changes.

"Now there are tags on trees which are scanned by a computer," he said.

Ms Bull hopes the results of the audit will help produce a strategy to reduce the problem.

"I am talking with employers, identifying common skill short- ages and assessing why the forest, timber and paper industries have trouble attracting people."

Yesterday she visited Notaras and Sons sawmill as well as local forestation projects, before moving on to Coffs Harbour and will continue around Australia.

The bulk of the consultation will take place this month and the results are expected to be completed by June.



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