Following the publication of a survey showing that of Britain's forests, Scotland has by far the largest volume of coniferous timber (211 million cubic metres), Scottish Cabinet Secretary for the Environment Richard Lochhead welcomed the news of an £840,000 boost to Forestry Commission Scotland's (FCS) skills programme from The European Structural Fund.
During a visit to Laiken Forest, near Nairn, Mr Lochhead said that forestry was reckoned to contribute £670 million to the Scottish economy every year, and provided vital rural employment. It was important, he added that people were equipped with the skills needed for the industry.
The FCS skills programme will be using the funding for the first forestry apprenticeship scheme, providing a three-year opportunity for 34 entrants to the forestry industry.
24 of those entrants will be supported through the apprenticeship programme while the other ten will gain work experience while receiving industry-related training.
FCS's skills programme manager Ashley Woodhouse says the funding enables the commission to build and run bespoke apprenticeships programmes.
He says: “Our aim is to provide them with the skills sets required to address industry demand, and give them the confidence and all round tools, to help them on their forestry career path.”