A new initiative is helping employers secure public funding to recruit more young people into the forestry industry.

Under the Growing Rural Talent initiative, forestry companies are being encouraged to take on new young staff through subsidies.

The initiative and other support for prospective employers were highlighted in the recent Forestry Jobs Summit, organised by the Industry Leadership Group and attended by Rural Economy Secretary Fergus Ewing and key forestry organisations.

Already, Tilhill, Egger and James Jones & Sons are providing new young recruits with a first step into forestry. During the summit, a further two companies confirmed their plans to offer opportunities for new starts.

Mr Ewing said: “The forestry sector in Scotland is a success story. It generates around £1 billion to the economy each year and supports around 25,000 jobs. Timber production levels are increasing and in the years to come we will need to have a young skilled workforce in place to meet demand.

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“I am pleased that both Scottish Forestry and Forestry and Land Scotland have doubled their intake of opportunities for young people.

“This is a great start and I’m very encouraged to hear that two other companies have confirmed their plans to take on young people.”

A partnership between Dumfries & Galloway Council, Skills Development Scotland, Scottish Forestry, Lantra Scotland and Forestry and Land Scotland will align the Growing Rural Talent initiative with national funding.

The initiative is funded under Kickstart and the Young Person’s Guarantee. It will provide up to 100-per-cent financial support to private sector employers for the first six-month period, and then at a rate of 50 per cent for a further six months, dependent on an actual job opportunity.

There is also a training budget for each person of £1,500 which will help to prepare them to work in a forestry situation. To take advantage of the financial support, companies should register their initial interest with Dumfries and Galloway Council before 8 January.

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