Western Silvicultural Contractors’ Association Rumour Mill RoundUpDate

March 24, 2016
Volume 16, Issue 6

Warning: Some of the facts contained in this article may be more interesting that important.

Clearing Saw Workshop to Review Removing Safeguards And Other Habits

toy vegetation

For years many operators have removed safeguards on their clearing saws to make them more productive, and, in their opinion, safer. This practice sets up some tension between the OH&S Regulation (4.3 – Safe Machinery and Equipment), the manufacturer’s warranty, and operators who may remove blade guards, or tinker with the spark arresters to get more buzz out of their saws and prevent them from jamming with debris. Since manufacturer’s presumably spend a lot of time engineering their products to handle load effectively, and operate safely for a variety of conditions, the situation with clearing saws raises some questions: Have the manufacturer’s failed to design their products properly?  Are operators’ modifications actually justified, or just bad habits that have become accepted? These and other questions around worker training, productivity and how clearing saws are built will be asked at a meeting in May comprising major manufacturers’ product managers, forestry contractors and licensees. The goal of the session will be to arrive at some constructive guidelines around equipment design, acceptable practices, and expectations on brushing projects where clearing saws are used. Interested contractors and licensees can contact the WSCA.

The Demographic Crossover: What Does It Mean To The silviculture Sector?

demographic table

The above graph compares the number of young workers entering B.C.’s workforce over time compared with the number of older workers leaving it. This representation shows that in the past there have been many more young workers entering than older ones leaving. Notwithstanding the historical higher unemployment rate for younger workers—usually around 3% higher than the provincial rate—the wave of new workers fills positions created by retirement, or the new jobs the economy generates. But now the projections look different. Soon (maybe now) there will be more older workers leaving than younger ones entering the job market. The BC workforce was estimated at 2,460,000 in 2015 out of a total provincial population of 4,680,000. This is the first time this has occurred in B.C.; something being repeated in all economies driven by the baby boom. It could mean opportunities for young workers in the job market coming soon. Or it could mean something drastic like a stumbling economy because factories and worksites can’t fill positions. And those are the simplistic observations that don’t take into account complexities like what we are seeing as young people leave the Interior and migrate to the Lower Mainland where there may be jobs, but no homes they can afford. And so on. It does get complicated; something that preoccupies people at the Ministry of Jobs Tourism and Skills Training whose job it is to get out ahead of these trends.

What Has This Got To Do With Gen Y (Millennials)?

Of course a similar chart of the demographic churn in the silviculture industry would look completely different. It took us years of labour market research to come up with a reasonable estimate of the size of our seasonal sector, its gender composition, Its age, and general disposition towards work. We are some ways from generating any finer detail on the sector and its reaction to larger demographic and workforce trends. Things are not made any easier by the observation that most of our workers may be Milllennials, but they are not normal ones. That meaning they don’t universally fit the profile of Millennials as cell phone-addicted young people who don’t wear watches, think it’s normal to live at home until they’re thirty, and expect to get a ribbon for finishing twelfth. The fact that the silviculture industry is doing well with Gen Y suggests something else is up. We had a chance to speak with the The Gen Y Guy Jason Ryan Dorsey a Millennial himself, entrepreneur, TV celebrity, and author of books like Y-Size Your Business: How Gen Y Employees Can Save You Money and Grow Your Business. According to this expert, tree planters tend to “self select” ensuring the industry attracts people more suitable to the task at hand. We then asked why Millennials were so fascinated by pictures of 70s hippie tree planters as evidenced by the thousands who followed Nahanni Arntzen’s Instagram postings of her father’s tree planting crews back when Aquarius dawned, and the subsequent success of her crowdfunded print publication of those slides. He said, guru-like, “Millennials are attracted to authenticity.” Now we have it. Keep it real and they will show up; self-selected like.