The sector’s structural change and the overall economic situation have weakened the attractiveness of the forest industries. Reduced student numbers have caused some forest-related training programmes to be cancelled. The aim of this campaign is to inspire young people to apply for forest-related training programmes and seek employment in the sector. The structural change has created an opportunity for the sector to renew itself and a number of significant investments are in the works.
The campaign first ran in autumn 2013 and it was very well received at participating schools. Around the turn of September-October, forest industry professionals will once again attend ninth-year comprehensive school classes in 330 schools all over Finland. During these visits, they will talk about training and career opportunities in the sector as well as showcase forest industry products and innovations. The campaign also includes a competition and the winning classes will receive their prizes at the Helsinki Forest Fair next November.
Investments and retirements boosting labour demand
If realised, planned forest industry investments would boost wood consumption by up to 10 million cubic metres per year. A substantial share of the jobs created by these investments would be located in the supply chain, i.e. timber harvesting and transport.
“The forest-based sector provides employment for professionals in many different fields. Pupils and teachers are not familiar with the wide range of professions, trades and career opportunities that our sector offers” says Anne Pirilä, Director of Communications at the Finnish Forest Industries Federation. “They have also been surprised by forest industry innovations and by how significant the sector is to the national economy and its central role in the bioeconomy,” Pirilä continues.
On top of investments, the coming retirement of a large share of industry personnel will lead to increased labour demand in the forest-based sector. A third of the sector’s employees are set to retire within the next ten years.
The forest-based sector is a source of prosperity for Finland now and in the future
“Schools have voiced their desire for greater contact with working life. The aim is to respond to this need with our school campaign and, at the same time, add to awareness of the forest industry among teachers and young people. The sector’s future looks bright and it will continue to need competent employees,” Pirilä notes.
The forest industry is a key source of livelihood in many Finnish provinces. It employs about 44,000 people in Finland, while the entire forest-based sector creates some 160,000 jobs. In 2013, the forest-based sector accounted for some 20% of overall Finnish exports.
The Forest of opportunities campaign is being realised as part of the nationwide Metsä puhuu (Forest talks) youth project, which is a joint effort of the Finnish Forest Industries Federation, the Finnish Forest Association, the Economic Information Office as well as the Metsä Group, UPM-Kymmene, Stora Enso, DS Smith Packaging Finland, Sappi Finland, Versowood, Pölkky, Tornator and Kotkamills corporations.
Anne Kettunen, Senior Adviser (Education Policy), Finnish Forest Industries Federation, tel. +358 9 132 6654, +358 40 833 2288
Anne Pirilä, Director of Communications, Finnish Forest Industries Federation, tel. +358 9 132 6645, +358 50 550 9480