The forest industry is an important part of the BC economy and will continue to be long into the future. In addition to the typical products produced from BC forests, new and innovative areas such as biomass, green building and carbon credits are creating opportunities for innovation and the creation of new forest products that will help B.C. fight climate change.
Currently 1 in 5 jobs in BC is related to forestry. The industry in B.C. is forecasted to be one of three industry groups to experience the fastest growth from 2007 to 2017—with an average annual growth rate of 1.7%.
Increasingly, the forest sector is demanding specialized graduates to replace a rapidly retiring workforce. In British Columbia alone, it is estimated that more than 30% of the current workforce will retire by 2020, creating job opportunities for the next generation of qualified forest professionals. Combined with employment demand generated through growth in the sector, the Forest Products Sector Council estimates that the B.C. forest sector will see a potential employment shortage of between 10,000 to 32,000 workers by the end of the decade (see full report Renewing Canada’s Greenest Workforce: A Labour Market Intelligence Report).
A Brighter Future
Canada is well positioned to capitalize on a strong global recovery led by the solid wood sector with demand for paper products stabilized, new products successfully introduced and a greater presence in emerging new markets. In the most optimistic of future possibilities, Canadian forest product enterprises will need to hire as many as 120,000 new workers by 2020 to meet demand. In a less optimistic future, the sector’s labour force demand will essentially hold its own in the face of continued macro-economic challenges. Even in this situation the industry will require nearly 40,000 new workers to fill demand (Forest Products Sector Council).
What does a Forest Professional do?
You could become a Forest Engineer and be responsible for tree harvesting or road and bridge building—using best practices to reduce harmful impacts. Or you could become a Planning Forester, creating operational plans following ecosystem-based-management. As an Urban Forester you can help to keep cities green. Combining your forestry credentials with further education, you could go on to become a teacher, accountant or lawyer. The options are endless.
The Association of BC Forest Professionals has created a detailed career section on their website.