Training and Mentoring

Sherbrooke Tree Service has worked with Registered Training Organisations and Government Organisations to deliver packages from the National Qualification Framework (NQF) for many years.
With some Government Organisations, we would work alongside and mentor workers to help gain experience. There has been discussion for many years to begin offering this as a service.

Our training and mentoring policies were formalised in 2009, and identified key areas not covered by the NQF.
We have been running this system internally ever since, and have been pleased with the outcomes.
We believe the policies, methods and philosophy have matured to a point that want to begin to offer them as an external service.

At this stage we are interested in expressions of interest, our assessment framework has been under review for some months – once that has finished we will be releasing a list of available courses.
Expressions of interest can be emailed to either (or both) Graeme and Angus, as listed on the contact page.

The conundrum

There is a general consensus amongst the tree industry that the current training framework is regarded as “entry level” and falls well short of the industry operational needs. Safety is compromised when a newly qualified person commences normal work to gain that experience. However if more complex tasks or specialised work is undertaken safety is further diminished. The chain of employment is exposed to scrutiny should an incident occur.

Graeme is regularly requested to assist in enhancing the safety and skills of other climbers and crew. He regards training courses as learner’s permits as they are unable to combine experience as an element of the current training outcomes. That is to say that any experience contained in such training outcomes is well below an operational standard.

Contractors cannot afford for their staff to gain experience through training courses as the duration for many to achieve an effective competency is not financially viable for private enterprise. Fortunate is the contractor that is able to mentor his own crew to service his work. The shortfall for employee safety is exaggerated when the tasking exceeds the experience of the operator. Often gaining experience is left to trial and error.

Unfortunately some tenders only require National Framework Qualifications for approval. From a safety aspect the comparison of respective tender’s fails to address the sometimes large variation in experience. In addition the hourly rates comparison further fails to enable fair comparison. The chain of employment is exposed to the consequence of serious accidents whilst individuals gain appropriate experience.

Experience & Development Program


Graeme McMahon has been working in the tree removal industry as a climber for nearly four decades. During this period, he has spent considerable years in forest operations as a high production tree faller for logging operations.

His company continues to specialise in large difficult removals and relief felling for logging. Safe production is the key to remaining competitive in this type of work.

Contracts of an arduous and repetitive nature also require careful selection of personnel to sustain safe production. Transmission line clearance in remote locations, felling for logging operations, post fire hazard reduction work and the removal of long term fire killed trees are examples of contracts that demand high levels of experience. Without the appropriate experience the safety of such operations is seriously compromised.

To ensure a safe high performance Graeme has always handpicked his team. These team members have been retained for their skills, teamwork, communication and awareness. Some have not demonstrated the required experience however shown potential. For this reason Graeme McMahon has conducted training and mentoring within his own company. This has assisted his highly skilled team to be recognised safe performers throughout the world whilst enabling employees to safely gain the essential experience.

Attendees will be mentored through tasks within the working environment. The focus is on efficient skill acquisition, teamwork, communication, identifying skill shortfalls and to increase comfort zones.

Graeme McMahon has a long standing company qualification system. Its standards are well in excess of any current training outcome and potential employees and subcontractors are assessed on holistic aspects of awareness, safety and how well they mesh with the other team members. If skill shortfalls are identified in the process they also can be addressed.

Training and Mentoring

The purpose of this opportunity is to aid industry to bridge the gap between training outcomes from the National framework and a general employable standard within industry. The advantage to a tree contractor or climber is that tasks can be completed safer and in a timely manner. Tree fellers and climbers can safely practice tasks that they believe to be outside their comfort zones or capability. Prerequisites are essential for this to be effective.

The first option is to assist a tree feller or climber to bridge the gap toward industry competence. The transferability of such training is limited as the “up skilling” of one person doesn’t always return to the workplace with authority to change workplace cultures.

The second option is to assist already competent crews to extend their skills into larger and more complex tasks that otherwise would elude them. This is the preferred outcome as all members of a crew are “up skilled”. Skill shortages and teamwork shortfalls are identified and safer simple techniques are practiced under the scrutiny of Graeme and his staff.

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