New Course for CMETB

New Forestry Forwarder Training Course Launched

Cavan and Monaghan Education and Training Board (CMETB) in conjunction with Teagasc Ballyhaise Agricultural College has launched a new Forestry Forwarder training course. The course is supported by Skills to Advance, a national initiative by SOLAS that provides upskilling and reskilling opportunities to employees in jobs as well as equip them with the skills they need to progress in their current role or to adapt to changing technologies.

Forestry Forwarders are specialised machines that are used to collect cut lengths of timber and transport them from the forest to a roadside stacking area on harvesting sites.  Forwarder operators manoeuvre through the forest following the route of the harvester, extracting felled timber to the loading area before arranging log assortments for collection.   Forwarder machine operators are required to have a broad technical ability and knowledge alongside safety, environmental and organisational skills.

At the launch Dr Anne-Marie Butler, Head of Education at Teagasc outlined how staff in Ballyhaise Agricultural college have worked closely with forestry harvesting contractors in recent years and together have identified skills gaps and the need to invest in their workforce by providing education and training to staff. Furthermore, Dr Butler reminded those present that the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine has supported this area of training by funding the development of the course content and the purchase of a simulator which is a key component of delivering the course.

Speaking at the launch of the new course, CMETB Chief Executive, Dr Fiona McGrath said ‘CMETB work with industry to provide courses relevant to the needs of employers. CMETB met with the forestry-harvesting contractors and identified that the Skills to Advance programme was ideal to meet the skills gap that employees have in the forestry-harvesting sector. We have signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Teagasc that ensures the skills, expertise and knowledge of both organisations are utilised in delivering this training programme’.

Employees enrolling on the course will receive training using the forwarder simulator at Ballyhaise Agricultural College. They will attend one day per week via face-to-face and online classes in college along with completing industry visits relevant to the course. They should also be participating in on the job learning on these machines facilitated by their employers to ensure they become proficient operators during the timeframe of the course. On successful completion, employees will receive a QQI level 5 certificate.

The launch of this course was hosted by Coillte on one of its active sites in Co Laois with both a harvester and forwarder on display. Coillte, Ireland’s semi-state forestry company, will support the forwarder course by providing working sites for field trips that are scheduled throughout the course.

Eamonn Kenny, Operations Director at Coillte explained that the harvesting industry needs employees that are certified with up-to-date skills to work in this sector. “As well as being competent at operating these machines, employees must have in-depth awareness of health and safety and protection of the environment, to ensure that harvesting operations are effectively carried out” he said.

This training programme is subsidised through the Skills to Advance initiative. Companies can receive a subsidy of up to 100% towards the cost of the training programme. The level of subsidy is in the form of state aid and depends on various factors relating to your company. The ETB advise you on this contribution which may result in no fees.

For more information, please contact Ballyhaise Agricultural College, Tel: 049-4338108 Email:


Picture Caption L-R:

Sinead McKenna (Training Services Manager, CMETB), Marianne Lyons (Assistant Principal, Ballyhaise Agricultural College), John Kelly, (Principal, Ballyhaise Agricultural College), Dr Fiona McGrath (Chief Executive, CMETB), Cllr. Carmel Brady (Chair, CMETB Board), Eamonn Kenny, Coillte, Operations Director, Kay Maguire, Learning and Development Manager, Eileen Roddy (Workforce Development Officer, CMETB), Dr Anne-Marie Butler, Teagasc Head of Education, Colm Brophy, Forest Manager, Coillte, Joe McGrath (Chair, CMETB FET Board)