The Professional Logging Contractors of Maine and Northern Maine Community College announced recruiting is underway for the Mechanized Logging Operations and Forest Trucking Program, an expanded version of the highly successful logging operations certificate program that will now include Commercial Driver’s License training.
The program will run for 20 weeks, from June 26 to Nov. 9. The majority of training will take place at an active timber harvest site northeast of Old Town.
The opportunity to earn a CDL-A permit and receive preparation for the state driving exam is a significant addition to the program Dana Doran, executive director of the PLC, said.
NMCC’s Commercial Driving Academy began in the late 1980s and now provides commercial driving training throughout the community college system. “We’ve recently expanded the Academy to support other campuses, including EMCC in Bangor and YCCC in Wells,” said NMCC Assistant Dean of Continuing Education Leah Buck. “We have a great reputation for delivering quality education and training professional drivers. Joining together the CDL and MLO program presents a tremendous opportunity not just for our graduates, but also for the employers hiring them.”
“This program already has a proven track record of addressing Maine’s shortage of qualified logging operators in an efficient and affordable way,” Doran said. “The addition of forest trucking to the program will further prepare students for today’s logging industry, giving them advanced skills to haul loads and move equipment in the Maine woods. This will enable employers to have multi-skilled operators who can efficiently haul timber, haul equipment, and operate the equipment needed to harvest wood in today’s forest.”
Students enrolled in the post-secondary training program will harvest timber and operate trucks using sophisticated state-of-the-art machines like those they will encounter in the logging industry. The hands-on experience students gain operating equipment is an opportunity unavailable anywhere else in Maine and neighboring states and will prepare them for in-demand careers with logging contractors throughout the state of Maine. A report released by the University of Southern Maine in 2019 documented that up to 2,000 positions in timber harvesting and trucking will be available in the next decade.
The program includes a strong emphasis on safety as well as giving students an understanding of the variables of timber growth, tree species, and markets. Through a grant from the Harold Alfond Center of Advancement for Maine’s Workforce and the Maine Jobs and Recovery Plan, students pay no tuition or fees, and the program provides all personal protective equipment.
The program was created in 2017 by three Maine community colleges, the PLC, and industry partners. This year’s class will be the seventh since its launch, and dozens of graduates are working in Maine’s logging industry today.
Approximately 95 percent of logging in Maine now relies on mechanized equipment. The industry also relies almost exclusively on heavy trucks to move wood. With the majority of logging operators and forest truckers at or near retirement age, the demand for new workers in the logging industry is high and most students in the previous certificate program have had job offers before graduating.
Anyone with an interest in the program should contact Holly Grant at Northern Maine Community College at 207-768-2856. Information may be found online at maineloggers.com
Maine’s loggers are a vital part of the state’s forest products sector, which is worth an estimated $8.1 billion annually. Logging contributed an estimated $582 million to the state economy in 2021.