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Fernando Campos

Director of Ponsse Latin America


A Brazilian model for training

The theme "the direction of mechanization versus the shortage of labor" is increasingly present in discussion circles in the forestry sector, as, on the one hand, it is possible to see that the sector demands the development of new technologies and, on the other, it is not easy to find available labor.

Forestry technology is constantly evolving and the global demand for sustainability increasingly challenges the development of solutions that emit less carbon, have greater energy efficiency and optimize operations, both in terms of cost and ergonomics, production methods and safety.

In this scenario, I see three challenges when it comes to labor:

1. availability or scarcity;
2. qualification and;
3. costs.

In the first point, it is noted that it is increasingly difficult to hire people willing to work in the field and good professionals are really sought after by companies. In the second challenge, we see several isolated workforce qualification initiatives, an effort with educational institutions, but a lack of structuring and adoption of integrated methodologies for preparing this workforce. The third challenge is the one that most impacts the total value of the wood harvested, as, due to an inflationary economic situation, the cost of labor has increased year after year.

Furthermore, with the advent of new technologies, the advancement of mechanization, the digitalization of processes, electrification of machines and, in the near future, we may have remote forestry operations; It is evident, then, that the profile of the forestry professional is also changing. We went from professionals who previously had a high demand for manual and heavy work to managers of machines and devices. Therefore, if we do not have adequate preparation for this professional, it will be very difficult for us to achieve this transition effectively.

Today it is possible to have up to three generations working in the forest, with different backgrounds and different skills. This brings numerous gains to companies. But, at the same time, everyone needs to have the continuous training necessary to act in the way the market demands. I have reflected a lot on the role of each agent in the forestry sector in training this specialized workforce. I see that we have isolated qualification initiatives.

Let me explain: forest-based companies invest in their own training centers, manufacturing industries also have their own investments to transmit knowledge and some educational institutions, such as the technical school in Ortigueira, Paraná and some courses offered by Senai, São Paulo, also have their qualification initiatives, aiming to increase demand in our sector.

However, I believe that the Brazilian market lacks a methodology for teaching and professionalizing the workforce for the forestry sector and, in this sense, I see that the path is collaboration.

A possible path forward: When I talk about collaboration, I want to involve all agents in the forestry market: associations and professional entities, companies, manufacturers, educational institutions, municipal, state and federal governments. We need to come together to organize the training of this workforce at a national level, just like the large forestry producing countries in Europe.

In my opinion, we can start by critically analyzing our Brazilian Occupation Code for Forestry Mechanization Operators, 6420-10. We need to envision the changes in the professional profile that I mentioned above and update the operators' duties, according to the evolution of the profession in the field.

From this, in my opinion, we should follow a path alongside the Ministry of Education, creating opportunities for technical and personalized courses so that people interested in the sector can have access to knowledge. All this political articulation could come from a class organization, through associations. Together we will have the necessary strength to achieve this important step in qualifying the current workforce and also for the future.

Brazilian forestry operator model: What would be the ideal model for moving away from isolated training centers? We should create a Brazilian model for training forestry professionals. As part of a manufacturing company, I know that we are available to send Brazilian delegations to learn about the European model.

For example, in Finland, where there is one of the training school models for forestry operators and mechanics, those interested stay in training for two to three years. In the first year, mechanics and operators have very similar training and, in the following years, they distinguish between the two professions.

Here in Brazil we experience a forestry reality that is very different from that of the Nordic countries, it is true. But, above all, it is urgent to adopt an effective teaching method that values the profession and that shows, not only to young people, but also to those already in the job market, that the forestry environment is extremely important for the future, that it involves technology and, above all, it is safe.

It is urgent because we know that, when we talk about basic education, it does not solve the qualification problem that exists on day zero of implementation. However, the longer we wait to create and apply this model, the longer we will have this gap in the training of these professionals.

The kickoff: We are very close to being able to implement our model and overcome the three challenges I mentioned at the beginning of the article. We have a strong political influence from a class association. With it, we have all the large companies that require this qualified workforce, whether forestry companies or machine manufacturers, all of which face the same challenge.

We have the capital. All companies involved in this process already have money being invested. If we do this in a structured way, perhaps using an educational institution, such as, for example, Senai (I mention Senai because it has reach and is practically in several municipalities where we have forestry operations), or another institution, we can have great success.

Therefore, if we conquer this organization, with the large cellulose producers, the forestry machine manufacturers, the political lobby that our trade association can have in Brasília; added to a possible partner, such as an educational institution, we will have all the necessary elements to overcome the three challenges.

Added to this, we also have European schools that are very interested in supporting initiatives like this and in transferring knowledge from the point of view of teaching methodology and teaching program. They are willing to provide consultancy to create a Brazilian model and also to learn more about our needs. With this I provoke: Are we going to organize ourselves and create a Brazilian model of technical forestry education?