VFA Virginia Forests Winter 2023

8 VIRGINIA FORESTS One of the biggest challenges in recruiting workers today is to break through the overwhelming f lood of information and messaging, and to meet potential workers “where they are.” Unfortunately, the forest industry is not only competing with every other industry for workers, but we are often fighting misconceptions about the nature of forestry jobs or the negative perceptions of our industry. That’s why ForestryWorks® utilizes every tool or approach available to recruit workers into the forestry workforce. Whether it’s a children’s book teaching a six-year-old about prescribed burning or face-to-face conversations with high school seniors about opportunities to pursue a low-cost technical education as a pathway to a well-paid forestry career, early and ongoing education and promotion is critical to building tomorrow’s forest industry workforce. Although developed in Alabama, ForestryWorks® was designed to easily adapt for use wherever forest industry workforce needs exists. Recognizing the differences that exist from state to state, FWTI works with state forestry associations to identify specific needs and resources available, and develop a state-specific strategy. Utilizing the ForestryWorks® franchise model, state associations can choose from a menu of available programs and strategies to implement as many or as few components as needed. Currently, ForestryWorks® is active in Alabama, Arkansas, Mississippi, and Tennessee, and the program is poised to expand into more states in the near future. To learn more about ForestryWorks®, visit www.forestryworks.com. Stephanie Fuller is director of promotions and economic development at ForestryWorks®, located in Montgomery, Alabama. CAREER PROMOTION Career Fairs – ForestryWorks® career kits, including job profiles, are utilized by staff and industry recruiters to promote careers in the forest industry. This early exposure at career events helps middle and high school students understand the wide variety of opportunities available. Marketing Campaign (@forestryworks) – ForestryWorks® conducts a continuous, robust campaign using digital and social media marketing to target multiple audiences ranging from students to adults searching for a new career path. ForestryWorks® Website (www.forestryworks.com) – A video-rich information website provides resources for students, job seekers, educators, parents and employers. Driver Recruitment Campaign – Utilizing digital and social media, the campaign targets long-haul drivers looking for jobs closer to home, matching them with logging companies seeking drivers. Job Board – Hosted on forestryworks.com, the job board provides industry employers a tool to use in their recruiting efforts as well as a place interested students can go to learn more about the employers in their area and the type of jobs they offer. TRAINING Logging Equipment Operator Training – Designed to prepare adults 18-years-old and older for a career in timber harvesting, the program teaches the basics of sustainable forestry, conservation practices, timber harvesting, and safety while providing as much “seat time” as possible to familiarize students with operating equipment. Professional Development Classes – ForestryWorks® provides in-person and online programs to upskill the existing workforce and provide opportunities for industry professionals to meet continuing education requirements. Workforce Development Forum – An annual event conducted by FWTI, the forum provides an opportunity for forest industry human resources professionals to discuss common challenges and learn about resources available for recruiting, training and retaining workers.