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‘‘We’re being told funds have dried up or we don’t fit the funding model. How are we supposed to plant the Government’s two billion trees if we can’t train the workers?’’ she said.
Forestry Pathways helped many young people stay in training or head directly to employment when they were finished with school, Ms Allan said.
‘‘Our organisation and relationships work extremely well, so we believe there’s no need to restructure all of that just to be eligible for funding.
Otago-Southland was the second-biggest forestry industry area in New Zealand and one local contractor required at least 20 new employees next year for planting alone, she said.
The industry remained a key funder of the programme but covered only 50% of costs.
To make up the shortfall, she had become an ‘‘expert funding seeker’’, Ms Allan said.
However, the programme would become ineligible for government funding at the end of this year.
Forestry Pathways programme tutor-assessor Alistair McKenzie said he was thankful for the Otago Community Trust’s recent grant of nearly $20,000, but it would only only cover tools and equipment.
The course took year 11 to 13 pupils on a two-day-a-week basis for 32 weeks, where they divided their time between theory and practical experience of all aspects of the industry, he said.
‘‘Over a quarter of our students stay in forestry or MPI [Ministry for Primary Industries] industry or training, from the practical types who move into harvesting or silviculture ... to the science-minded who can get into engineering or genetics or do a forestry degree.’’
- By Nick Brook