July 12, 2018

Second logger training course supports growing industry need

The second round of a mechanized logging operations training program is designed to build on the success of last summer's kick-off.

Northern Maine Community College announced that the second 12-week course began June 25 in the woods in Chapman.

Developed through a partnership between Northern Maine Community College, Eastern Maine Community College, Washington County Community College, and the Professional Logging Contractors of Maine, the program addresses the growing need for skilled workers in the industry. Many of the current operators are approaching retirement age, creating a shortage of trained loggers, according to the release.

Last summer, the first session was held in Millinocket. At that time, Donald Burr, who took a leave of absence from Madden Timberlands in Old Town, where he operates a feller buncher, to run the program, told Mainebiz that the program offers a good alternative that acquaints students with the industry and allows them to continue on to jobs with a good foundation of knowledge and experience. The industry has numerous unfilled positions for qualified operators skilled in modern computerized logging machines.

"My goal is to have young people be able to operate these half-million-dollar machines and make a good wage with benefits, so that they look at this as a career," Jim Nicols, co-owner of Nicols Brothers Logging in Rumford, who assisted with the program's conception as a PLC board member, told Mainebiz toward the completion of last year's training program.

Other efforts are underway to recruit young job-seekers into the industry. In January, the Professional Logging Contractors of Maine launched a promotional video to publicize the Mechanized Logging Operations program. Graduates of the first class all received job offers from logging contractors before they completed the program, which works in tandem with the state's vocational training system. The video , available on YouTube or a downloadable high-definition version, combines interviews with students, instructors, industry representatives, wood consumers and logging contractors with footage of students harvesting wood and training in maintenance, safety, and forest health practices.


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