Training Program Has Applicants - But No Money
By Jim Stirling
Copyright 1997. Contact publisher for permission to use.
The future of a forest worker training program that's helped
hundreds of loggers is in limbo. At press time, Forest Renewal BC was silent on a funding
application by the Central Interior Logging Association (CILA) to continue its training
courses for the next five years. CILA currently has 500 people on its waiting list.
"We're a litle edgy,'' understates Frank Drougel, CILA's
general manager based in Prince George, BC.
The training courses appear to be a perfect fit with FRBC's
mandate, a crown corporation that is funded by stumpage fees and other royalties paid by
forest companies. Its goals include safeguarding forestry jobs and increasing economic and
employment benefits from each tree harvested. CILA's courses have been completed by more
than 260 people. They've been successful because they're designed by the log harvesting
community for the log harvesting community. And they are offered at a time when provincial
government regulations like the Forest Practices Code are increasing the responsibilities
placed upon logging contractors and their front line crews. Everyone in the bush needs to
know what they're doing at all times. To accomplish that, they need to understand the
rules and upgrade their skills.
Within that context CILA developed its training programs, the
latest in a long series of educational initiatives by the association. CILA initially
applied through the Ministry of Education, Skills and Training and received FRBC funding
of about $1 million for a one-year pilot program that finished at the end of March,1997.
The association's steering committee, encouraged by the response and demand, decided
longer-term planning was more appropriate for its training courses. Consequently, it put
together a five-year proposal and submitted it to FRBC.
"The logger is a hard one to drag into a classroom but he
recognizes the need to upgrade skills," says Drougel. "We've had response from
trainees saying the course is great, only it's too short. When was the last time you heard
a logger say that? This program, from my perspective, is really the first payback the
logging community has gotten from government and its agencies."
CILA's basic forest workers skills package is broad-based and a
pre-requisite for operational users. It encompasses everything from map and compass work
to waste reduction, safety awareness and first aid, fire management, spill control WHMIS
and the Forest Practices Code. The course takes seven days to complete.
Operational skills training includes butt'n'top loaders,
processors, falling and bucking, including WCB falling certificate requirements. A
truck-driving practicum for registrants with a Class 1 licence and air endorsement is also
part of the program. "The whole system is designed to meet changes in demand from the
forest industry,'' says Brian Brown of Free Spirit Venture Inc., CILA's training
CILA also offers a week-long supervisory skills package, and
'train the trainers' sessions. Training programs have been offered throughout central and
northern BC, from Fort St. John to Williams Lake.
CILA is developing an entrepreneurial skills package covering
bookeeping and business management tasks like costing and scheduling. Its fate, too,
hinges on funding.
CILA's training programs receive an enthusiastic thumbs-up from
William Dawydiuk. "They've been going great guns,''reports the Williams Lake-based
logging contractor and current chairman of CILA. Dawydiuk's been working in the bush for
30 years and says he has never witnessed more responsibilities placed upon the contractor
and his crews. "They have to know what they're doing," he stresses.
He's put his crews through CILA's basic skills package to help
meet the need for training to work in the woods today. "With the Forest Practices
Code and related items you'd better carry your wallet with you and have it full of
training course certificates,'' he recommends.
But like Drougel and Brown, Dawydiuk doesn't want to contemplate
what will happen to several hundred loggers registered for training in the next few months
without the FRBC funding, or the loss of practical training momentum that's finally been