SKILLING WOKERS: A timber training centre will open in Maryborough.
SKILLING WOKERS: A timber training centre will open in Maryborough. Adam Hourigan

New timber training centre to skill jobseekers

A TIMBER company will open a training centre in Maryborough after struggling to fill vacant positions because of unqualified applicants.

Sunchip Group managing director Mark Blackberry said roles offering a yearly salary of $80,000 and a work-life balance were difficult to fill.

"We are really struggling to find forestry workers as there are not enough skilled people to drive our machines," Mr Blackberry said.

"The timber industry is sustainable and we are needing more people to realise that.

"Some of the machines cost $1 million each, and we need to be confident in the people driving them."

The training centre, which hopes to skill people for the timber industry, is predicted to open halfway through this year.

It will also offer courses in mechanics.

Mr Blackberry said the shortage of skilled timber workers was a national trend, and those who train-up in Maryborough could also take postings in other parts of the country.

Maryborough MP Bruce Saunders said the difficulty to fill positions in certain industries due to local workers not possessing qualifications is was one of the reasons why the Wide Bay region has some of the country's worst unemployment rates.

"We have to re-skill people, and get people skilled," Mr Saunders said.

"One of the problems we have is when jobs come up, nobody has the skills."

Mr Saunders, who helped secure a new timber fire station that will be built in Howard this year, envisions the timber industry to be an even more vital player for the Maryborough economy moving forward.

"We are planning to also expand the laundry (Wide Bay Group Linen Services), which is for unskilled workers, to eventually double what it is now," he said.

"And biofuels is going to be huge.

"We'll need extra people to grow more cane, workers at the mill and the agriculture industry."