Coillte launches new scholarship programme to promote forestry as a career

by Gazette Reporter
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Coillte, the semi-state forestry company, 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.

Larissa Delazari, Resource Analyst and Mark Mahon, Forester, pictured together as Coillte today launched its first ever scholarship programme Picture Robbie Reynolds

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.

Pictures Robbie Reynolds

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