Special Feature

Three years after launching his own forestry training scheme Balclutha contractor, Mike Hurring, is seeing progress at last.


Initial resistance from other contractors to allow a “competitor” access to their apprentices has given way to a general acceptance that the idea has merit and the programme is now on its third intake.


“We’re getting a few runs on the board now, which is good,” says Mike, who kicked off the school when he decided to purchase his own simulator and make it available to novice loggers from outside his own crews to learn the basics first before going onto real machines.


Frustrated with the lack of proper forestry training opportunities in his region, Mike set up a training facility at his company’s 12ha property on the outskirts of Balclutha. A fully equipped training room now has two simulators, including a portable version based on a laptop that can be taken on the road. Once they’ve done time on the simulators, the trainees can practice loading with an excavator and truck/trailer on the property. A forwarder has also been purchased for similar training experience and harvesters can be made available from time-to-time.


The course, which is run in conjunction with Competenz, takes place over five one-week blocks, with numbers limited to eight trainees.


“We can’t put them through in one 5-week stretch, so they come in and do a week and then go back to work and return, eventually completing the course over 10 months,” says Mike.....


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