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Chainsaw Wisdom
Arborist of the Future
Payback Time:  Mentoring the Next Generation

In part 1 of this topic, the ISA’s perspective was shared on the “state of interest in the practice of Arboriculture”, particularly how data suggests that interest “has been on a steady decline over the last several decades”. I have witnessed dozens of coworkers beginning and ending their Arboriculture careers in 12 months or less. The common response I encounter from owners and managers is that these people were poor candidates, and they were plain and simple not cut out for the rigors of the biz. To those embracing this viewpoint and seeking only experienced recruits – the herd of unicorn master arborists has grown very thin due to unsustainable collective planning. Draining the talent pool while complaining about “the kids these days” or “high flight risk potential” as the primary reason for not refilling the talent pool may feel good now, but if it hasn’t bit your business already, it will soon.

We should all be asking questions along the lines of “what changes are being brought to our workplace to develop, integrate and retain inexperienced employees?”. Collaborating with our colleagues on these challenges is vital if we are going to get ahead of this growing issue: What is working? What isn’t working? What lessons have been learned? If we fail to attract new membership to the Arboriculture profession, the kind of professionals required to lead and maintain operational capacity will become the increasingly rare, and those that remain can enjoy increased workloads.

As I skim through heaps of job postings, one trend on the experienced-side of postings is problematic. That being the expectation that candidates are turn-key for the role through experience, education, and credentials (subject to a post-interview skills evaluation). While I wholeheartedly endorse the value and need for education, credentials, qualification and experience, the messaging from industry is “the successful candidate will do the heavy lifting on development somewhere else and come to us when they meet our benchmarks”. Those that live by that sword, will die by that sword as the best and brightest on their programs perpetually seek higher wages and benefits in the private or public sector.

These are a few examples of the kind of information missing from many job postings between requirements and the bottom line, and the kind of program culture change that will make a difference in your workplace (if a sustainable workplace matters to you).

  • Our workplace is a safe workplace, and we would like your involvement in continually making it safer.
  • Our workplace continually provides training opportunities on the job, at safety meetings, and through external arborist training/education events.
  • Our workplace is committed to maintaining employee ISA qualifications through CEU training opportunities within, and through regional external training events.
  • Our workplace recognizes the importance of developing future arborist leaders – new workers or workers without an Arboriculture diploma will be required to attend an approved Arboriculture diploma program at the earliest opportunity as a provided benefit.
  • Our workplace expectation is respectful, professional conduct that is free of discrimination, bullying, harassment, and sexual harassment.
  • Our workplace cares for your ergonomic health: Modern equipment maintained in excellent condition for accessing trees and moving material, provided arborist-specific PPE of the highest quality and comfort, gym membership benefits, a yoga space for morning warmups, and JOHSC (Joint Occupational Health and Safety Committee) looking for other opportunities to reduce impacts for the health of our team.
  • We recognize that our scope of work may be somewhat unique – an initial skills and knowledge assessment may be conducted to better deliver training for the successful candidate into the role.

- Gary Oaks