Around 80 school students visited Dipple Farm, close to James Jones & Sons Ltd’s sawmill in Mosstodloch, last week to find out what career opportunities exist on their doorstep in land-based industry across Moray.

Organised by the Land Based Sector Group as part of the Moray Skills Pathway, an initiative ran with local employers and education which supports Developing the Young Workforce in Moray (DYW). The full-day ‘Growing Your Future’ event gave students the opportunity to participate in interactive, land-based industry-related workshops and to meet with companies and individuals who work within land based industry.

Sectors represented on the day included trees and timber, agriculture – livestock, agriculture – arable, environmental conservation, land management, fisheries management, game and wildlife management, land based engineering, green keeping and production horticulture and veterinary practices.

James Jones took along the latest addition to its Mosstodloch-based haulage fleet, a Volvo FH six-wheeler incorporating VR technology that enables drivers to control their crane from inside the driver’s cab. Students were given a demonstration and then given the opportunity to take the controls themselves to see what it’s really like to load and off-load timber. Colin Thomson Harvesting also provided one of their harvesting machines for the day, so students were also able to experience the excitement of controlling a 14-tonne timber harvesting machine.

Tree surgeons from Forres Tree Services attended the event and gave demonstrations of the various chainsaws, harnesses and mulching machinery that they use on a daily basis and they also talked through the many safety measures that they adhere to in what is an especially varied part of the sector working across sectors such as forestry, agriculture and domestic.

Budding mechanics and engineers were also give the opportunity to handle and talk about many of to the tools and equipment used to keep the machinery of the forestry and timber industry moving as The Forestry Commission attended with one of their fully-loaded mechanics trucks.

Other organisations supporting the event included Dipple Farm, Colin Thomson Harvesting, Pitgaveny Farm, Agrii, Glenrinnes, Savills, Scottish Land Estates, Spey Fisheries, North Highland College, Ravenhill, SRUC, Scottish School of Forestry, Norvite , Moray Council and Moray Coast Vets.

Speaking of the event Neil Petrie, Senior Site Manager at James Jones’ Mosstodloch sawmill, said: “Giving the students the opportunity to get hands-on with some the timber sector’s latest technology is fantastic and allows us to show them that forestry and sawmilling is as technologically advanced as any other sector out there. As a company we really need to find the next generation of harvesters and sawmillers and working with DYW on this event and other initiatives moving forward is very important not just for us, but for companies working in land-based industry companies.

“The students seemed genuinely excited by what they were allowed to do at Dipple Farm, one student even said that controlling the crane using the VR headset on our timber lorry was even more fun than playing on his Xbox. If we can get young people to recognise and experience the broad range of exciting and rewarding careers they can pursue here in Morayshire then we can ensure that we’ll have a strong committed workforce long into the future in our region."