Mechanized Logging Operations Certificate Program
Maine’s first post-secondary training program for future operators of mechanized logging equipment launched this summer thanks to a partnership between three Maine community colleges, the Professional Logging Contractors (PLC) of Maine, and industry partners.
The 12-week certificate program began June 26 in Millinocket and will rotate to other locations around the state as each class completes it. The supervised training is hands-on, putting students in modern equipment, in the woods, under actual logging conditions to better prepare them for good paying careers in the logging industry.
“This program is critical to the future of Maine’s logging industry and it is equally critical to let young people know that despite the transition of the forest products industry, there is in fact a future for this industry,” PLC Executive Director Dana Doran, said. “Most skilled equipment operators are now at or nearing retirement age and there is a shortage of skilled operators even despite the market retractions that have taken place recently.
The new program is working in tandem with the state’s current vocational training system and is expected to draw many of its students from within the logging industry itself as well as from Maine’s four high school vocational logging programs. For the first time, logging operators will be trained similarly to other advanced trade occupations with a high school and postsecondary approach.
The training will give students a broad overview of the most common mechanical systems found in modern timber harvesting equipment, and an understanding of the variables of timber growth, tree species, and markets. It will also include a strong emphasis on safety.
Approximately 95 percent of logging in Maine now relies on mechanized equipment including feller bunchers and harvesters, delimbers, grapple skidders, and forwarders. It generally takes at least a year of training and experience before an operator becomes skilled enough to run this equipment safely and efficiently. The cost for companies to train these operators themselves is approximately $100,000 each.
It was for this reason that the PLC partnered with the Maine Community College System and industry to create the program. It has been jointly developed by the PLC and Northern Maine Community College (NMCC), Eastern Maine Community College (EMCC), and Washington County Community College (WCCC) with generous support from Milton CAT/CAT Forest Products, Nortrax Inc./John Deere, and other industry partners.
Logger Gary Voisine of Voisine Bros. Inc. of Fort Kent, and a PLC Board member, says the graduates of the program will be vital for replacing retiring operators, and will come to companies with enough skills to greatly reduce the time it will take to bring them up to speed as operators.
“It’s going to save us a lot of money in the long run,” Voisine said.
For More Information on the program contact: Don Burr, Program Coordinator at (207) 356-1541or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Operators in demand
Approximately 95 percent of logging in Maine now relies on mechanized equipment including feller bunchers and harvesters, delimbers, grapple skidders, and forwarders. Most operators of this equipment are now at or near retirement age. Job prospects for new operators are strong.
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