The wood industry is recruiting in all directions

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A red line for those intended for cutting. A “chamois” circle (dark orange) for those who will stay. This Monday morning, pots of paint and brushes in hand, Martin Auswald’s mission is to “hammer” plot 32 of the Bois de Sainte-Apolline. Objective of the technician of the Yvelines National Forest Office: to delimit the land promised for sale and to mark the oaks that the loggers will be authorized to cut in the coming year.

A morning that sums up the primary mission of forest professionals: to ensure its renewal while preserving the most beautiful trees and to supply the downstream wood industry, sawmills, carpentry, coopers, or other stationers.

From seed to packaging, the French wood forest sector thus accounts, according to the France Bois Forêt interprofession, for 378,000 full-time jobs, or 1.4% of the active population. And what diversity within this group with no less than 23 professional organizations!

Foresters are divided into several groups: foresters (experts, technicians, forest managers, operators), who plant, select species, care for, clarify, maintain biodiversity and shape the forest of tomorrow; forestry contractors (loggers, longshoremen, loggers, etc.), who cut down, log, and harvest trees. Finally, the logging companies who market the wood, buy it “standing” from the owners and resell it to the primary processing industries (sawmills, paper mills, firewood).

All this is done either within the framework of the ONF, which manages public forests, the largest employer in the sector with its 9,100 employees, or within forestry cooperatives or forestry work companies that abound in France.

“Very few of the 3.5 million private owners exploit their forests themselves,” explains Richard Emeyriat, forest engineering consultant at Forêt Logistic Consulting. The sector, which is very fragmented, is made up of 80% of VSEs which employ less than 10 employees ”.

A young graduate will start at 2300-2500 euros per month

FranceBoisforêt lists 60,000 companies in the sector, a third of which is devoted to forestry. “We are very easily our own boss,” says Mylène Gabaret of Apecita, the equivalent of Apec (Agency for the employment of executives) for the agricultural world. And the positions that open are as well intended for young holders of the CAPA or a BT as for holders of BTS or pupils who leave a large school.

The sector is hiring all over the place. Forest workers (minimum wage at 2,000 euros per month), loggers and machine operators (1,800 to 2,300 euros) are in great demand. “In 2019, 13% of forestry work companies had difficulty recruiting,” said Franceboisforêt. But the profiles of experts and engineers are also valued.

The Grande École Agroparistech in Nancy, which trains in forest management, receives 10 to 20 job offers each week from the Association for interaction between foresters. A young graduate will start his career at 2300 – 2500 euros per month.

“We are seeing an increasing attraction of wood in construction”, analyzes Arnaud Godevin, the director of the Higher School of Wood (ESB), which trains engineers for construction, furniture or green chemistry. Sign of the times: the future village of the Olympic Games, at Plaine Saint-Denis, will be built mainly of wood.

Local communities as well as the private sector are seduced by this ecological material, 100% recoverable and naturally renewable. “Environmental concern moves the lines. Wood contributes to cleaning up the planet ”, summarizes Arnaud Godevin, who noted an increase of 30% of the candidatures to the contest of the BSE in 2019 and 2020.

“The offers come from all over France, even from overseas, and the demand is not met,” notes Myriam Legay, director of Agroparistech. France still uses Belgian and German graduates ”. Finally, underlines Mylène Gabaret, “the majority of positions are permanent jobs”.

What studies to do?

To be a worker, machine operator or forestry technician, one can opt for an agricultural CAP in forestry work, or a BPA in forestry work (specializing in forestry work, logging work, driving forestry machinery). You can then continue with a Bac pro Forêt, a Bac STAV (Sciences and Technologies of Agronomy and Life) or a Professional Certificate (BP) responsible for forest sites.

To be a contractor for forestry work, one can aim for a BTSA in forest management or a BTSA technical-commercial specialty in forest / wood products. There is also a professional license planning, management and marketing of wood products.

If you are aiming for an engineering career, you must apply in the few highly sought-after high schools in the sector: AgroParisTech (in Nancy) or Bordeaux Sciences Agro for forest management, the École supérieure du bois (ESB) ) in Nantes, the ENSTIB in Epinal, Ensam Cluny, Ecam Bourg-en-Bresse, the Purpan engineering school in Toulouse, or the Enise Saint-Etienne. You can also take a master’s degree in Forest Management.

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