The Forest and Wood Training Council has reinforced the importance of vocational training at its national training awards.
Chief executive Ian Boyd says 150 students at eight secondary schools are working towards forestry qualifications and FITEC hopes to extend that to 12 schools next year.
He says promoting primary sector industries in schools, gives students alternatives to academic careers.
Mr Boyd says the benefits of vocational training are seen in the forestry apprentice of the year award, won by Stormy Merritt. She works for her father as a machine operator and has ambitions of running the business one day.
He says the qualifications are well received by employers in the industry.