Contractors focusing on the future

The Australian Forest Contractors' Association, with support from PF Olsen Australia and a number of other industry players, has been running a series of highly successful seminars around the country focused on the theme "Business is Different Now".

The one day conferences are open to all forest industry participants and bring together a range of industry players and advisers to present on issues ranging from innovation and company director responsibilities through to shifts in business management trends and all important industrial relations issues relevant to small and medium-sized enterprises in the forestry sector. The day is wrapped up with an hour and a half panel session with five industry experts responding to targeted questions of interest.

Col McCulloch, CEO of AFCA, noted that some strong themes have emerged from the discussions at the workshops, including:

    1. Developing strategies to deal with the shortage of skilled technical and professional labour

Identifying regional solutions for different parts of the supply chain to work collaboratively on key logistics issues in order to generate greater efficiencies

The need for business owners to find time to step out of the day-to-day pressures of managing budgets and short-term crises, and focus on strategic and people management issues

The whole sector needs to step up and take responsibility for management challenges, rather than relying on third-party or policy-based solutions

There is also a strong theme emerging about the opportunity for a more formal business and professional development framework to be developed for contracting businesses, focused on issues such as training and re-training, productivity opportunities, environmental standards as well as economic standards and honing businesses skills and acumen.

This kind of focus bodes well for the Australian forestry sector whose strength and viability will only be enhanced by improving contractor business capability.