5 Feb 2017 | Japanese worker shortage leads to more forestry colleges

Japan is suffering a severe shortage of forestry workers at a time when many trees planted after World War II have grown enough and now need to be cut down.

Demand for domestic timber is expected to grow partly for use in facilities related to the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics.

With Japan facing an urgent need to train industry-ready workers, the number of forestry colleges is increasing across the country. Until fiscal 2011, there were only six forestry colleges, run by prefectural governments. But the number now stands at 14. In fiscal 2017, which starts in April, new colleges will open in Iwate, Hyogo and Wakayama prefectures.

In April 2012, Kyoto Prefectural College of Forestry was established in the town of Kyotanba in Kyoto Prefecture as the first forestry college in western Japan. The college offers a two-year program for up to 20 students. It includes the country’s first course for students to learn how to use advanced forestry machinery. Students will also be given the opportunity to obtain qualifications.

Fifty-eight students have so far graduated from the college, and about 90 percent of them are working in the forestry industry. “Graduates of the Kyoto forestry college are actively sought in the industry,” an official of the Forestry Agency said.

Tomonaga Nakashima, a Forestry Agency official, said many forestry companies have weak management bases and face difficulties developing human resources. “This is why these companies want to hire people who have basic skills,” he added, projecting that the need for forestry colleges will grow further.

Source: Japan Times