Coillte has launched a scholarship programme aimed at highlighting forestry as a prospective career pathway in the hopes of attracting people into the sector.

The scholarship that will be awarded in autumn 2024 will see two students get up to €20,000 for the duration of the degree programme to support with fees and living expenses.

The payment will be €5,000 per year, with each student receiving the support annually for the duration of the degree once the scholarship has been awarded.

Therefore, if the course is a four-year course, the total award per student will be €20,000 and if the course is a three-year course, the total award will be €15,000. The payment will be made in instalments in line with college term fees.

The successful candidates will be given the 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).

Projected labour shortages

Labour force analysis, conducted by Coillte and Forest Industries Ireland during the first half of 2023, highlighted the industry's need to create over 1,770 additional jobs over the next decade to meet the ambitions of the Irish forest strategy and increase levels of planting, timber production and processing output.

According to Coillte Forest managing director Mark Carlin, the expected labour shortages are causing concern, as there is a high demand for skilled workers in the sector.

“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,” says Mark.

By launching the Coillte scholarship, Mark emphasises that they are not only seeking to support young people who are choosing forestry as a career, but to drive awareness of the multiple benefits of forestry as a whole and its suitability to many.

Positive survey outlook

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. Some 45% of women surveyed considered themselves suitable to the forestry industry.

Almost six in 10 of those surveyed recognise the strong correlation between forestry and sustainability and the role the sector plays in tackling climate change.

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.

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“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,” explains Mark.

Application details

Applications for the Coillte scholarship programme can be completed online here. The closing date for receipt of applications is 28 April 2024.

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