Coillte launches new scholarship programme to promote forestry as a career and help tackle projected skills shortage in the sector
- 1,770* new forestry and wood processing jobs will be required to fulfil Ireland’s Forest Strategy, many realised by Coillte
- More than half of young people see themselves as suited to a career in forestry – RED C Research survey for Coillte
Additional RED C Research highlights:
- Men (61%) show higher suitability and consideration for a role in forestry, however a large proportion of women (45%) also open to a forestry role
- Tackling climate change and working with nature are key attractions when pursuing a career in the forest sector
- Almost 6 in 10 young people believe that a career in forestry supports a more sustainable future
- Less than 3 in 10 young people are aware of third level courses relating to forestry
Wednesday, 31st January 2024: Coillte, the semi-state forestry company, today launched its first ever scholarship programme which will give two students the unique opportunity to pursue a full-time, third level programme within the area of forestry at either University College Dublin (UCD) or South East Technological University (SETU). The scholarship will award two students up to €20,000 for the duration of the degree programme (€5,000 per year) to support with fees and living expenses.
The Coillte Scholarship programme aims to highlight forestry as a fulfilling career for both men and women and attract the foresters of the future into the sector. Forestry offers a broad spectrum of roles which focus on many areas including: sustainable wood production through tree planting and harvesting; promoting biodiversity conservation; implementing climate change adaption strategies in Coillte’s forests; as well as analysing environmental data to develop comprehensive plans for sustainable forest management.
Identified as a key enabler in the delivery of Ireland’s climate action goals, the forestry industry will need more than 1,770 forestry and wood processing professionals to realise the ambitions of Ireland’s Forest Strategy. Securing future talent is crucial to ensuring Coillte can realise many of these employment opportunities, focusing on delivering the company’s own strategy, to enable the creation of new forests, increase the area of forests managed for biodiversity, continue to produce sustainably grown wood, and double the number of outdoor forest recreation spaces across the country.
Launching the Coillte Scholarship Programme, Mark Carlin, Managing Director of Coillte Forest said, “The forestry industry is projected to experience an acute labour shortage in the near future, which is a significant concern for Coillte and the wider forest sector and something we are working hard to address. Our strategic vision, which supports Ireland’s Forest Strategy, highlights the importance of forestry in tackling climate change but we need skilled workers to enable us to achieve Ireland’s ambitions and those of Coillte. By launching the Coillte Scholarship Programme we are not only seeking to support young people opting for forestry as a career, we are also hoping to drive awareness of the multiple benefits of forestry as a whole and its suitability to many.”
Developing a more gender diverse forest sector – Spotlighting forestry as a career choice, a recent RED C Research survey commissioned by Coillte, revealed that a total of 54% of young people aged between 18 and 29 are open to considering a career in the sector. While 61% of men surveyed believe their suitability to the forestry industry, a large proportion of women surveyed (45%) also consider themselves suitable, which is encouraging as Coillte aims to attract a more gender diverse talent pool. Almost 6 in 10 of those surveyed recognise the strong correlation between forestry and sustainability and the role the sector plays in tackling climate change.
Forestry – championing sustainability – Among those who were favourable to a career in forestry, over half were attracted to supporting the environment and tackling climate change which they associate with working in the sector. A further half (53%) of survey respondents welcomed the opportunity to work in nature.
The research also highlighted that those who had already expressed a love of nature and an understanding of the work of Coillte had a greater propensity to consider a career in forestry.
Carlin added, “The research findings are reassuring in terms of the suitability and consideration for a role in forestry by both men and women. In recent years, we’ve focused on diversifying our workforce to achieve greater gender balance and we’re committed to increasing the representation of women studying and working in forestry in the years ahead. The interest indicated by both men and women in tackling climate change and recognising the role forestry plays in that ambition is also encouraging. Sustainability is at the heart of forestry today and technological innovation has transformed the forest sector. We want to ensure that a career in forestry is front of mind for young people when deciding which path they will follow and we’d encourage anyone interested in our Scholarship Programme to visit our website www.coillte.ie for further details.”
Each scholarship recipient will also be offered the opportunity of paid summer employment in Coillte for the duration of the scholarship and on completion of the degree, they will have the opportunity to join Coillte.
Applications for the Coillte Scholarship Programme can be completed online from 1st February at www.coillte.ie. The closing date for receipt of applications is 28th April 2024.
*Labour force analysis, conducted by Coillte and Forest Industries Ireland during the first half of 2023, concludes that the industry will need to create over 1,770 additional jobs over the next decade to meet the ambitions of the Irish Forest Strategy and increase levels of planting, timber production and processing output.
For further information contact:
Sabrina D’Angelo, Q4 Public Relations
firstname.lastname@example.org / 086 032 3397
Notes to Editor:
About the Coillte Scholarship Programme
Coillte will award two scholarships in Autumn 2024.
The award will be €5,000 per year, with each student receiving the support annually for the duration of the degree once the scholarship has been awarded. Therefore, if the course is a 4-year course, the total award per student will be €20,000 and if the course is a 3-year course, the total award will be €15,000. The payment will be made in instalments in line with the college term fees.
Each scholarship recipient will also be offered the opportunity of paid summer employment in Coillte from first year onwards. This work placement will provide award recipients with supportive practical experience to match the academic studies gained.
On completion of the degree, each scholarship recipient will be offered the opportunity of employment within Coillte. Details of the employment opportunity will be provided once third level education is successfully completed.
Forestry Roles within Coillte
Foresters manage various forest operational activities, including sustainable wood production through tree planting and harvesting, while also focusing on habitat conservation for environmental protection. They engage with local communities to balance and deliver the multiple benefits of forestry.
Forest Resource Planners use forest growth models and earth observation technologies to enhance the optimisation of Coillte’s forests. They analyse environmental data and incorporate these insights into comprehensive plans for sustainable forest management, making informed decisions about conservation, resource utilisation, and the long-term health of the forest.
Environmental Officers and Forest Ecologists play a crucial role in formulating and implementing environmental policies, evaluating the well-being of the forest ecosystems, and championing practices that protect the environment, promote biodiversity conservation, and implement climate change adaptation strategies within the forests.
Forest Harvesting Machine Operators operate cutting-edge tree harvesting machinery, prioritising log optimisation, utilising telematics for efficient operations, and emphasising environmental protection, safety, and adherence to quality standards.
Details on the RED C Research survey methodology:
- Research was conducted for Coillte using RED C’s online omnibus, the RED Line.
- Through an online panel of over 45,000 members, RED Line reaches a representative sample of the adult population 18+ across Ireland.
- Quota controls are used to ensure a nationally representative sample of ROI adults aged 18+, with interlocking quotas to provide extra confidence in sample profile.
- Data was weighted across gender, age, region and social class so as to ensure a nationally representative sample based on latest CSO projections.
- The sample consisted of n=515 respondents ranging from 18-30 years old took
- n=283 interviews carried out among 18-24 year olds, and n=232 surveys were carried out among 25-30 year olds
About Coillte’s Forestry Strategic Vision
Coillte’s forestry strategic vision, is focused on sustainably balancing and delivering the multiple benefits from Ireland’s state forests across four strategic pillars: Climate, Nature, Wood and People.
It is designed to optimise its contribution to Ireland’s climate targets and includes a range of actions aiming to capture approx. 28m tonnes of CO2 from the environment by 2050. Actions include:
- Coillte aims to enable the creation of 100,000 hectares of new forests by 2050, half of which will be native woodlands, thereby enabling the sinking of 18m tonnes of CO2 by 2050.
- Coillte will manage its existing forest estate to capture an additional 10m tonnes of CO2 by 2050.
- Coillte plans to produce 25 million m3 of certified Irish timber, to support the construction of 300,000 new homes in Ireland by 2030. It will also promote the use and benefits of wood products to increase the level of timber homes from 20% to 80% by 2050.
- Coillte intends to enhance and restore biodiversity by increasing the area of the forest estate being managed primarily for nature from 20% to 30% by 2025 and to 50% in the long term.
- Coillte plans to enable the investment of €100 million to create world class visitor destinations to support growth in tourism and recreation by 2030. In addition, it will double the number of recreation areas nationally to 500, to benefit local communities and peoples’ wellbeing.
- New strategic vision will be underpinned by Coillte’s commercially successful business and aims to enable the creation of 1,200 direct and indirect jobs in rural communities to support the just transition to a low carbon economy in Ireland.
Coillte is responsible for the management of 440,000 hectares of Ireland’s forests, which represents 7% of the country. Since its establishment in 1989, it has enabled the development of a vibrant forestry and wood products sector that supports rural employment throughout Ireland. While sustainability has always been central to the way in which Coillte manages the forest estate, Coillte believes that the climate and biodiversity crises, as well as societal demands for housing, jobs and wellbeing, are driving a need for greater change.
Among the actions that Coillte proposes to deliver as part of its strategic vision are:
- Enable the creation of 100,000 hectares of new forests by 2050, supporting the delivery of the national afforestation target; and create a carbon sink of 18 million tonnes of CO
- Manage its existing forest estate to capture an additional 10 million tonnes of CO2 in its forests, soils and wood products by 2050.
- Redesign 30,000 hectares of peatland forests by 2050 through a programme of rewetting or rewilding for climate and ecological benefits.
- Produce sustainable wood products that in 2050 displace 2.7m tonnes of CO2 per year from fossil-based products such as concrete, steel and plastic.
- Enable the generation of an additional one gigawatt of renewable wind energy by 2030, enough to power half a million homes in Ireland, via its joint venture company FuturEnergy Ireland.
- Enhance and restore the existing biodiversity on the estate (90,000 hectares; 20%) to improve its ecological value.
- Increase the area of its forest estate to be managed primarily for nature from 20% to 30% (an additional 44,000 hectares) by 2025.
- Transform and redesign an additional 70,000 hectares of existing forests, to create new semi-natural woodlands, providing valuable habitats, targeting that 50% of Coillte’s estate is managed primarily for nature in the long-term.
- Produce a sustainable supply of 25 million m3 of Irish certified timber that can help Ireland achieve its housing ambition of 300,000 new homes by 2030.
- Promote the use and benefits of wood products to help increase the level of timber homes from 20% to 80% by 2050.
- Develop innovative wood products to meet the growing demand for sustainable materials to support the bioeconomy.
- Support the creation of 1,200 direct and indirect new jobs in rural communities to enable the just transition to a low carbon economy in Ireland.
- Enable the investment of €100 million to create world class visitor destinations by 2030 to support the growth in tourism and recreation in Ireland.
- Double the number of recreation areas to 500 nationally, enhancing local communities and contributing to people’s wellbeing.