After helping people gain forestry qualifications for the past three years, a local training facility has the highest number of students it has ever had.
Mike Hurring Forestry Training started in 2015. Mr Hurring runs it alongside his business, which has around 50 employees.
Mr Hurring has been involved with the forestry sector for more than 32 years, and said there had always been a high demand for workers.
He started the course with the aim of helping train the future generation of forestry machine operators, as well as having skilled workers to hire.
Last week, another eight students started their apprenticeship, taking the total for the year to 13 students.
In 2013 Mr Hurring purchased his own training simulators and set up at his work site in Balclutha. He also had property nearby which allowed for hands-on experience.
Although the cost of the training is $5000, it was free for students due to subsidies from local logging companies, Mr Hurring said.
Over his time in the industry, Mr Hurring had noticed a big change in the environmental and health and safety standards, and said there was a big push for individuals to be responsible.
“It’s important they [students] get educated from the start.
“It’s great to have young keen people coming into the industry,” Mr Hurring said.
The apprentices will come together for five one-week training blocks over the next 10 months.
Mr Hurring said they would learn skills from health and nutrition, basic machine and chainsaw operation to large machinery operation.
“The industry has changed so much over the years. It’s not just a job, it’s a career, and we need skilled people to do it.”
Following the training, those who pass the course will finish with two level 3 qualifications, basic machine operator, and manual processing.
The course is targeted at males and females of any age, and those who take part may already be working in the industry or just starting out.