Here at Rocky Mountain Forest Products, we like to keep a finger on the pulse of our industry. We are finding that, among many economic sectors, companies are struggling to hire employees. Currently there are logging industry workers needed, and the lumber industry is drastically being affected by this struggle. Additionally, keeping workers long term is proving to be difficult.
This is mainly because the logging industry is centuries old and somewhat antiquated and does not appeal to a young work force. The Great Recession caused most of the mature and experienced loggers to leave the industry. Even though the logging industry has implemented many of the technological advances that make logging easier it does still need machine operators, but millennials are just not having it.
As the environmental focal points for logging have changed over the past several years from Canada and the Pacific Northwest to the Southeast there are little to no generational loggers in these new harvesting areas.
Finding New Logging Industry Workers
These shortages have specifically impacted the OSB and plywood market across the nation. Because of this and the fear of any new problems many mills in the Southeast and logging businesses have joined forces with the Forestry Works Program to entice new loggers.
The Forestry Works Program is banking on technology to be the ace in their pocket. Industry experts are hoping that new logging machinery like the “Forwarder” which are highly advanced and even luxurious inside will attract younger generations of loggers that are not drawn to the rough life of the working in the forest.
The Forestry Works program is also working with safety engineers to remove the dangerous and difficult conditions that loggers experience to make it more appealing. The high death rate among loggers appears to be the biggest deterrent to young lumberman entering the logging industry.
Every year the Bureau of Labor Statistics releases an annual census on the deadliest jobs. In 2016 truck drivers had the most fatalities with 885 deaths and logging was a close second! For this reason, parents just have not encouraged their children to follow in their footsteps like in other generational industries.
Although many things in the logging industry can be changed and improved upon to lure young loggers there are some issues that cannot. For instance, stricter harvesting restrictions on public land have caused a decline in logging towns in high work areas making it almost impossible for loggers to have families due to extensive travel and numerous days away from home at a time. Since people are getting married and having children younger again logging is not an industry that supports this. Today logging is for the lone wolf who is dedicated strictly to his work.
Experts in the logging industry do estimate that after a few more years of implementing changes more young lumbermen will begin to enter the industry. Logging is still a very necessary and lucrative trade so more organizations need to ban together to get it thriving again.
If you’re interested in supporting the logging industry by purchasing some lumber, give us a call!