Diversity brings opportunity

When he started as a Trainee Technical Forester back in 2002, Brodie Frost never imagined he’d hold his current position as Fire Management Coordinator with Sustainable Timber Tasmania.

“I’ve been fortunate enough to have worked in many forest management roles across a number of organisations over the past 20 years,” Brodie said.

It’s no surprise of course that over this time the industry has evolved and now more than ever, there is a need for its workforce to reflect this change.

As the Chair of the TFFPN Workforce Development and Diversity Project Reference Group, Brodie is committed to leading workforce development, diversity and inclusion in our forest industry.

Brodie discussing the importance of fire management with school students at Agfest.

“By focusing on being a diverse and inclusive industry, we can attract and support a wide cohort of employees from right across our community. We can tap into their skills, knowledge, experience and a diversity of ideas,” he said.

The Forest Industry Workforce Development Plan launched last year by the Tasmanian Forests and Forest Products Network has detailed four key goals relating to career and education pathways, workplace diversity and industry promotion, attraction and retention.

Brodie firmly believes that by connecting with our community and fostering a sense of belonging through being an inclusive industry, the Tasmanian forest industry can better share its story as a sustainable and modern industry.

“As an industry, we have the opportunity with this project to set up a solid foundation for growing our future workforce. We are providing a framework and starting the conversation around workforce, diversity and inclusion so we can gain an understanding of what it all means for us individually and as an industry.”

The Workforce Development and Diversity Project focuses on learning and provides tools to support people to be inclusive in their respective workplaces.

“We are all responsible for the culture of our workplaces and our industry. By being aware of our behaviours every day we can attract and retain a highly skilled, diverse workforce for our industry.

“We know that most people want to be inclusive in their workplaces and this project aims to provide the knowledge and tools for everyone, from CEOs to supervisors to workers.”

Brodie with daughters, Lucy and Maggie.

The project has steadfastly focused on the future forest industry workforce in an effort to determine what it looks like and what skills are needed for it to succeed.

Brodie is cognisant that workplaces are continuing to evolve and that the industry he first began his career in two decades ago will look very different to the one his daughters – Lucy and Maggie – will know when they enter the workforce.

“There are many external factors that are changing our workplaces—from globalisation to digital technology to changing social values—which will require both businesses and employees to adapt,” he said.

Brodie believes these changes bring with them opportunities for the forest industry to tell its story, to connect with our broader community and to build an industry that is representative of all Tasmanians.

“Our challenge now is to take ownership of this project as individuals, to keep the momentum going and get some perpetual motion moving forward so this work continues beyond the life of the project. We have a diverse Reference Group of nearly 30 members, who represent a great cross section of our industry and community. These individuals are actively increasing their skills in workforce, diversity and inclusion.

“The sky is the limit for this work and it is rewarding to be a part of the change.”

Information on the Workforce Development and Diversity Project can be found at Diversity Action Plan – Tasmanian Forest and Forest Products Network (tffpn.com.au). Members should reach out to either Brodie or the Network’s Manager Workforce and Diversity, Tracey Taylor,  to find out more.