The UK’s largest integrated timber and forestry business, BSW Group, is gearing up for a busy end to 2022, with its commitment to supporting STEM development continuing as students return to school.

Throughout the 2021-22 academic year, BSW Group members BSW Timber and Tillhill, along with associated partners, hosted secondary school students at sites across England, Scotland and Wales to enhance their understanding of the timber industry, with an emphasis on attracting young talent to the sector in the coming years.

Tony Lockey, BSW Group Learning and Development Manager, stressed the importance of engaging with young people as they prepare to make decisions that could shape their future careers. He said: “What we offer at BSW is a fully rounded training package for our apprentices, not just study in the classroom but hands on experience with a range of jobs and opportunities. We build our teams through robust succession plans and choose the right individuals to take our business onwards”.

BSW Timber and Tilhill have worked closely with the Scottish Council for Development and Industry (SCID) and Young Engineers and Science Clubs (YESC) to deliver industry insights through the last 12 months. In April, 50 young people from primary and secondary schools descended on Aberdeen Science centre for a Regional Celebration of STEM in partnership with BP and Shell U.K. Limited, and a further 90 students attended Dundee Science Centre for a Celebration of Engineering.

In Carmarthenshire, students from Rhayader Primary School at DCWW Elan Valley visited a Tilhill client, Foresight Sustainable Forest Company, to plant trees of their own. A workshop on biodiversity and conservation was delivered before silver birch and sessile oak trees were planted, while Long Mead Community Primary School in Tonbridge also planted 60 mixed broadleaf trees with the help of Kent Tree and Pond Partnership, and Trench Ward Community Tonbridge.

Youngsters in Scotland were given an insight into how the timber industry can positively impact the environment, while also being given the opportunity to visit a Tilhill harvesting site at Bainloch and the BSW Timber sawmill in Dalbeattie. The students were studying land management and forestry as part of their new Rural Skills course and were hosted for the day by Tilhill and BSW Timber.

Harvesting manager Iain McMurtrie and Tilhill colleagues were able to give students an insight into the planning and preparation that goes into managing a working forest, and how harvesting can be carried out safely and effectively. There was time to get a close-up look at the modern machinery involved in this work and to talk to the team who were on site. Students were also shown how decisions are made about re-planting. At BSW Dalbeattie the group found out more about the high-tech sawmilling operation and how a tree is processed into sawn timber products.


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“These chances to get out of the classroom and to see the real world – to meet people doing real jobs – are vital for our young people today,” commented Helen Patterson, trip-leader from Dalbeattie High School. “Several of the young people have commented to me that they can really imagine themselves doing jobs like these in the future now they’ve seen them close up.”

Over the last year, Tilhill has also been working with Moray Council and Lhanbryde Primary School in North East Scotland to fell and restock a small wood in the school grounds. It was a project that proved challenging operationally, but it was a hit with the children.

Senior Forest Manager Phil Whitfield said: “We spent a lot of time talking about safety around work sites, but there was also a lot of interest in helping us with the replanting.”

Tony Lockey, of BSW Group, added: “A recent promotion saw several new Tilhill graduates sign up for STEM Ambassador status. This is a fantastic way to promote our business to a wide range of individuals and inspire future timber and forestry workers. This often promotes the roles that are available through site visits and demonstrations, bringing young people face to face with exciting new opportunities that many had never thought they would explore.”

To find out more about BSW Group, visit

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