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In the Ute with Dave Adams, Operations Manager, G White Logging

Dave Adams has had a long career in forestry, first working as a full time logger before turning his hand to safety and training management roles and operations / management. He is the current Operations Manager at G White Logging. FICA CEO Rowan Struthers recently had the opportunity to park up with Dave in his ute and talk training, including his take on the current state of training and his belief that the current qualifications are not broken. His belief is that if a couple of units were tidied up they would still be pretty much fit for purpose and is advocating for the delivery and funding to be the area for attention. Read on below. 

Dave Adams was a full-time logger until he turned 30 in the early 90’s. By then, he had completed a NZ Certificate in Harvesting (13 modules) and was classified as a senior logger. He left the bush to go back to school to complete his NZ Certificate in Forestry (NZCF), a three year diploma course in Rotorua.

It was tough to make ends meet during the period of study with a young family and mortgage. So, when John Gaskin approached Dave about working as a student part time at LIRA, Dave jumped at the chance. Dave assisted with tree felling work study and it wasn’t long before he was running the programme. In fact, Dave published a number of reports at LIRA.

Dave completed his NZCF in two years and was then offered a position at Forestry Corporation as a Researcher on $38K plus a ute. In his words, he was living the dream.

One of his first assignments was value recovery training and assessing logmakers followed by a move to the Safety and Training Managers role for the Corporation. In the following years Dave worked in a few senior roles in Safety and Training Management at NZ’s Largest Forest companies including Carter Holt Harvey Forests. For anyone who was around then, they were turbulent times with lots of change in terms of forest management and ownership.

An opportunity came up for Dave to join the Forest Industry Training and Educational Council (FITEC) team in 2008, where he went on to spend seven years.

Dave left after the merger with Competenz in 2013 to join Rotorua Forest Haulage (RFH) as Safety Manager where he stayed for five years. He then had a short stint at PFO as a Harvest Manager before starting firstly as G White Logging’s (GWL) Safety Manager three years ago then onto the Operations Managers role, where he still actively trains and assesses workers.

Dave is well qualified to talk about the current state of training and has seen much change. He is very clear it is the Contractors responsibility to train their employees. Dave often uses the analogy that ‘if you want a decent pig dog, get a good pup and train it’. GWL actively seeks ‘people with potential’ not necessarily forestry experience’, and where appropriate sign them into Competenz forestry apprenticeships.

Dave does not believe in the "unit for task” philosophy that many companies follow, so wherever possible, employees are signed into full National or NZ Certificate programs with Competenz.

Gareth White owner of GWL believes this gives him a competitive advantage in terms of his team being able to cover many roles, they are multi-skilled, multi-talented, and this was certainly an advantage during COVID.

"Dave is of the view is that the current qualifications are not broken and if a couple of units were tidied up they would still be pretty much fit for purpose. It is the delivery and funding that needs attention."

However with his knowledge of the system and the excellent working relationship he has with Competenz and its assessors he has no problem getting his team trained and assessed to a high standard. When the external assessors come to GWL they know they will get a full day’s work with workers ready to be assessed.

Download: Qualification for Task – A Discussion Paper by Dave Adams

Dave is sharing a discussion paper he wrote a few years ago titled ‘Qualification for Task – A discussion paper’. Download below.