For more than 15 years, ForestWorks has assisted retrenched workers and local businesses in regional forestry industries via our Workers Assistance Service.
Business closure is a important part of economic progress and regeneration. However, mass job losses in a concentrated geographical location or regional area can have profound effects on the economy and the community.
The Workers Assistance Service was developed to look for hidden employment opportunities in regional areas, assisting retrenched workers in finding re-employment. It also supported emerging or growing regional industries and business.
Since its development in 2000, the model has assisted over 1,400 forestry workers and many businesses in regional areas of Tasmania, Victoria, South Australia and New South Wales. In Tasmania alone, from 2012 to 2014, 95% of workers actively seeking re-employment were able to find new work, assisting over 500 businesses in gaining new skilled employees.
The secret to its success was the specialist Workers Assistance Coordinators and the one-on-one support they provided to retrenched workers and the services they offer to businesses with employment needs. All were former workers from the same industry, who had first-hand experience of retrenchment. Their ongoing advocacy for individuals in the job seeker process generated employment and training outcomes that would not otherwise be possible.
Participant success stories
Ty Little had been employed for 12 years at Kelly’s Timber Sawmill at Dunalley. As a local who grew up in the area, not having to travel too far to work was an added bonus. Ty had undertaken many tasks and roles at the sawmill, and enjoyed the work and the people he worked with.
Unfortunately on Friday 4 January, tragedy occured when Kelly’s Timber Sawmill was burnt to the ground, along with 200 other structures, leaving its owners with no option but to retrench the employees.
Ty secured some short-term employment with Hazell Brothers during the time it took to clean up the properties affected by the bushfires. Then, when the Hazell Brothers work came to an end, Ty registered with ForestWorks and a JSA. Workers Assistance Coordinator, Rick Birch, began to seek out employment opportunities that would suit him.
Ty was fortunate enough to be offered employment on a local oyster lease at Dunalley. Although he did enjoy the work, he wanted something a bit different. Rick had been talking with local building company owned by Brett and Annette Perry, who were helping with the rebuilding in the Dunalley community. Brett had discussed with Rick that he was keen to secure Ty as an adult apprentice builder as he knew of his excellent skills and work ethic.
Rick was also able to help connect Ty and Brett to an Australian Apprenticeship Centre to discuss all options and assistance available for apprentices and employers. Ty’s JSA also helped with some of the tools he needed for his new career.
Ty has now officially signed up as an apprentice builder with Brett and Annette and is enjoying his new career pathway with helping rebuild new homes in the Dunalley and surrounding area.
Craig was interested in starting a business and becoming a driving instructor. His Workers Assistance Coordinator helped him research the role and what it would involve, as well as the types of training he may need to carry out his new aspiration.
Craig has now completed a Certificate IV in Car Driving Training, Certificate IV in Training and Assessment and is now also a member of the Australian Driver Trainers Association (ADTA).
With the aid of his dual control car, Craig can now provide lessons to learner drivers or those wanting to brush up on their pre-test skills.
When Craig Twining was retrenched as a cable operator in native forest harvesting in May 2011, he found new employment with Venarchie, contracting at St Helens, as a civil operator.
Craig already had forest industry licences in excavator operation, but required civil endorsements to further his career with Venarchie. Through Skills Tasmania’s Rapid Response Skills Initiative and ForestWorks’ Workers Assistance Service, he was able to undertake training in a set of skills that fitted him for work with his new employer, including excavator civil endorsement, road roller licence, chemical certification, workplace first aid, forklift and wheel loader licence.
Craig’s training was possible thanks to the support of his employer, the guidance of Mark Blackwell at Forestworks, and funding subsidies coordinated by Mike McGee from the Rapid Response Skills Initiative. Craig is already using his new skills and can now work in other areas of the Venarchie business.