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Spotlight on Forestworks

June 7th, 2015



Every Australian relies on the products made by employees in the forest, paper, timber and wood industries. Forestworks supports these employees and helps advance their industries.

Forestworks is an industry skills council representing more than 120,000 people, including everyone from seedling planters to truss and frame builders. Its aim is to bring industry, government and the vocational education and training sectors together to improve skills and support workforce development.

A key part of that goal is encouraging ongoing innovation to bring better results for both employees and consumers, says Forestworks Chief Executive Officer Michael Hartman.
To this end, Hartman is leading an industry-wide Innovation Skills Program to support businesses face the challenges of today’s economy.

However, government funding for the program will soon end. Despite this, Hartman says Forestworks hopes to continue the program, which has been running for two years and used by more than 1500 people.

The Innovation Skills Program works with business owners and operators to teach them new skills and develop practical solutions to increase business value and productivity.

“It’s a four-step process where we do awareness raising seminars and talks,” Hartman says.
“We explain what innovation is and how it can help your business and what are some of the things you have to do as a leader or manager to behave in an innovative manner.”
“One of the points we make is you can’t force innovation, you can only create the environment where innovation can occur.”

The program has given business leaders a better understanding of how to foster innovation in the workplace, Hartman says.
“When we first started the program people confused technology and research with innovation,” he says.

“The point we try to make is research is a way of spending money to find out knowledge, innovation is the way of taking knowledge and increasing value – so turning knowledge into money is what the aim of innovation is.”

Hartman represents Forestworks as an observer of the Forest Industry Council Advisory Council, which was set up by the Federal Government in October 2014. The council, co-chaired by Senator Richard Colbeck, aims to provide advice on a wide range of issues facing Australia’s forestry sector, including initiatives to foster investment, growth and sustainability.

Earlier this month (June 5), the council finalised submissions for its discussion paper, which will explore the opportunities and challenges for the nation’s forest products sector over the coming decades.