Coillte, the state company responsible for forestry, employs 900 across rural Ireland and will be promoting its 2016 graduate development programme at the Farmers Journal and open eir Agri Careers Fair writes Mary Phelan:
Coillte owns over one million acres of land, or 7% of the land cover in Ireland, most of which is forested. There are in excess of 900 people working for Coillte, between the land solutions business, the panel business and the forestry business.
Coillte’s 2016 graduate development programme will open for applications in March 2016. This ties in with the Farmers Journal and open eir Agri Careers Fair on 3rd March in the RDS at which Coillte will be exhibiting.
Register for free here to attend the AgriCareers Event
Coillte takes up to six people per year on its graduate programme and the 2016 graduate programme will be its fourth intake.
Coillte is looking specifically for graduates within forestry. Coillte takes applications for the programme before final-year exams in May. After students have completed their exams they are called to do second and third-stage screening. The testing is competency-based - candidates do ability and psychometric tests. Then there are final interviews and the graduates start working at the end of July/start of August.
Michael Lally, HR Business Partner with Coillte notes that forestry graduates tend to have good technical forestry skills and are very strong environmentally, but they also need to have strong commercial skills and be more skilled in the area of technology. “That will become very important for us” says Michael . “We are early adopters of forestry technology. We are currently investing very heavily in a bespoke forestry management system.”
The graduate programme generally receives 120-150 applications from around the world – from America to Scandanavia. Coillte is keen to improve diversity – in terms of gender, nationality, and background. Coillte says there are not enough women applying to work with them – for example in each intake of the graduate programme there will be a maximum of one-two girls.
Successful candidates will be offered a three-year fixed-term contract. They will experience two to three work placements in a management, frontline supervisory or business support role within the Coillte Forest Divison.
Coillte try to ensure that graduates coming out have a whole mix of skills. The programme focuses on resource optimization analysis, planning, harvesting operations management, customer supply management and financial planning and analysis.
Coillte also recruits as business needs arise – which is frequent in a company of its size, and Coillte doesn’t just need people in forestry.
Coillte also recruits to fill positions in the area of ICT, procurement and finance. For example, every two years Coillte takes in a small number of trainee accountants and supports their training and development. For its land solutions business, Coillte has a lot of windfarm projects in construction and needs project managers for that.
Michael Lally also notes there’s a huge opportunity for people to provide services to Coillte. “Our harvesting operation is largely outsourced and significant proportion of our planting programme is delivered through our contractor service partners, so real opportunities to work for external contractors and service providers exist” explains Michael.
“People are often suprised by how fast-paced we are, the role technology plays in our business, and how commercial the company is” continues Michael. “But we are aiming to be the best forestry and land solutions company in Europe, and it is within our reach.”
Experienced Forestry Professionals
Michael says that Coillte is always interested in experienced forestry professionals aswell (“we do have opportunities, there’s no question about it”). Such people are encouraged to approach the Coillte stand at the fair for a chat and it might so happen they’re the right fit for the business.
“The front line supervisory roles are generally for graduates” says Michael. “The industry is so regulated that to operate in that environment you need that knowledge base. It’s quite a technical role.
“We’re interested in encouraging those on the practical and operations side of forestry to develop themselves in machinery operations – in the training of machines operators” continues Michael. “It’s very specialised and there’s a gap in terms of training and development in this country. Our industry has a steady requirement for highly-qualified machines operators.”
Skills and Qualities
In terms of the personal qualities and competencies sought in employees by Coillte, the organisation wants those who have commercial awareness and environmental and social skills, as the organisation works hand-in-hand with other land users and its broad range of stakeholders.
The CareersPortal Team