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IMPROVING ACCESSIBILITY TO LABOR IN THEFOREST PRODUCTS INDUSTRY

ISSUE:

The forest products industry, including loggers and haulers, primary and secondary

manufacturers, pulp and paper mills, paper packaging plants and paper facilities, is one

of the largest manufacturing sectors in the US, sustaining nearly 940,000 families and

contributing $295 billion annually to the US economy. The sustainability and

competitive viability of the forest products industry relies on an intact, healthy wood

supply chain, including labor. Since 2018, the US logging and hauling sectors which are

solely responsible for harvesting and moving logs from the forest to manufacturing

facilities have seen a 2% reduction in logging business and an 8% reduction in the

workforce. The disparity between reductions in the size of the workforce and business

closures suggests remaining logging businesses are operating with fewer employees.


AMERICAN AGRI-WOMEN REQUEST:

AAW supports including language in the Rural Development Title of the 2023 Farm Bill

that directs the Secretary of Agriculture to create a grant program to establish immersive

pathway training programs focused on the work development needs of the forestry

industry.


BACKGROUND:


Rational


Targeted workforce education and training programs have been effective recruitment

tools in computer programming, utility vegetation management and automotive

industries. Regional forest industry training hubs would allow participants to stay in or

near their communities, which reduces the cost to participate and affords program

developers increased flexibility in adapting training curricula to meet regional needs

through ties to local forest products employers. The forest products industry struggles

to find trained and skilled workforce at all levels as an estimated 40-60 percent of young

adults are leaving rural forest-based economies for other employment opportunities.


Conclusion

AAW supports these key components of a workforce pathway program:

  • Expand existing high school forestry education curriculum by employing mobile

educational units with timber harvesting simulators, sawmills, kilns and

commonly used power/hand tools

  • Implement 40-hour applied skills camp to complement the applied high school

curriculum

  • Provide immersive field training for high school teachers to complement the

applied high school curriculum

  • Diversification of the forestry industry workforce through increased awareness of

career paths, the breadth of career and entrepreneurial opportunities in forestry

and wood products industries

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