The last wood harvesting event ran two years ago in New Zealand. It was a sell-out.

Same story two years before this in 2015. Over 450 people met at both events in Rotorua.

Both also had the largest gathering of logging contractors, forestry managers, forest owners, suppliers and harvest planners seen in New Zealand.

It wasn't only the locals. Equipment suppliers, researchers, forestry companies and international contractors from throughout Australia, Canada, the US, Finland, Austria, Germany, Indonesia and South Africa also flew into Rotorua to attend the events.

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Two years on and logging contractors and key suppliers from around this region and from overseas will again be descending on Rotorua as HarvestTECH 2019 will be running again over two days on June 26-27.

Early indications are that it's going to be another huge gathering. Some larger groups of international suppliers and contractors have already indicated they'll be travelling to New Zealand to attend.

Exhibition spaces — inside and out the venue — have already been largely filled by major logging equipment and technology providers, six months before the event runs.
So, what's on offer this year?

Plenty of new technology, new innovations and some clever operating practices aimed at improving productivity and safety for wood harvesting operations are going to be showcased.

Another key theme this year is the real issue being faced by many at the moment — how to retain existing and attract new employees. It is a major issue. It's already constraining the forestry industry — here and overseas.

The population is aging — and it's aging rapidly. Around 300,000 workers in New Zealand are aged 65 and over and by 2041, up to 1.37 million people are expected to be aged 65 and over.

Trades and industries are targeting Generation Z, those born after 1995. There's around one million of them.

Lynda Coppersmith, CEO of New Zealand Young Farmers at a recent training event described them as "digital natives".

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"Their smartphone is an extension of their body, they're socially aware, they're independent and ambitious and they're looking for authentic and transparent experiences," she said.

For the forestry industry and harvesting contractors it means getting a handle on the drivers and motivations of these new millennials — Generation Y and Generation Z — to get a reasonable share of the available workforce.

Experience, contractors are told, is crucial for retention and educating and enlightening the sector employers is as important as attracting talent.

An insight into some of the key drivers to attract and retain this new workforce will be profiled at HarvestTECH 2019. This is going to provide some useful tips on how businesses are going to keep their machines and harvesting operations working into the future.

In addition to what buttons need to be pushed to resonate with youngsters since the last HarvestTECH event ran back in 2017, some exciting new initiatives have and are being rolled out to attract young people and new skills into wood harvesting.

What's now on offer, what is working and what potentially can be used in your region or in your own business will be a key part of the June 2019 event.

The New Zealand wood harvesting programme is extensive.

* Full details on the two-day event, HarvestTECH 2019 can now be found on the event website, www.harvesttech.events