Second year Forestry students undertake training skills thanks to €41,900 funding from Forest Service, Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine
Many students view placement as a break from learning. That is not the case for the BSc in Forestry students, who are presently in their second year placement module and taking part in specific forestry training skills. This was made available to the students thanks to a grant of €41,900 from the Forest Service, Department of Agriculture, Food and Marine.
This training includes, occupational first aid, safe use of pesticides and fell and processing trees. The grant award supports the Department’s objective of ensuring safe working conditions and environmental protection in Irish forests.
Waterford Institute of Technology (WIT) has partnered with Kearney Training and Consulting Ltd to deliver the training in small groups of four to five students to one trainer. This small student-trainer ratio is a requirement of the City & Guilds training certification and is essential to allow the communication of skills, assessment of performance and feedback for improvement required to successfully gain certification of competence, according to Mr. Philip Kearney. Training is delivered in WIT and in Lismore Estate, Co. Waterford and on the forest property of Mr. Burke Corbett in Co. Wexford. Burke is a director of the Irish Wood Producers, and has invested in providing a training facility on his property. As a retired professional pilot, Burke recognises the importance of training in a highly regulated sector that depends on skilled staff to manage risks.
The profession of forestry and forest management is about a lot more than cutting down trees, requiring scientific knowledge, technological application, management ability and practical experience. However, Ireland’s developing forest sector requires forestry graduates with the ability to operate independently and manage others effectively. Mr. Adriene Booth, Forest Manager at Lismore Estate, confirms that it is “vital that graduate forest managers have experience of best practice to communicate work tasks to staff.”
Mr. Tom Kent, programme leader of the BSc in Forestry, outlines the benefits to higher education forestry students of skills training as: developing their self-esteem and confidence; increasing their awareness of the importance of a safe working environment for themselves and those they manage; and demonstrating the importance of effective communication in achieving goals. The main aim of the forestry programme is to raise students’ knowledge and skills to develop work-ready graduates. WIT gratefully acknowledges the contribution of the Forest Service, and the generosity of industry partners in releasing placement students and providing training locations to achieve this.