04/05/2013 05:52 EDT | Updated 06/05/2013 05:12 EDT

B.C. seeks new markets for wood products; addresses need for skilled workers

PRINCE GEORGE, B.C. - The B.C. government will spend $8.4 million to help identify new markets for wood products, and will work with the forest industry to find more skilled workers.

Premier Christy Clark says the spending builds on the government's efforts to diversify B.C. timber exports, pointing out wood shipments to China have increased by 3,500 per cent over the last decade.

Much of the money, $6 million, will go to nine associations to promote B.C. wood products in areas like China, Japan, South Korea and the United States.

The rest of the money will support B.C.'s Wood First program, which encourages the use of wood in construction projects in the province.

Clark was in Prince George, B.C., Friday to address the Council of Forest Industries convention, where she announced an agreement with the industry to address the need for skilled workers.

NDP leader Adrian Dix was at the convention Thursday, where he also spoke about skills training and the need for a better inventory of the province's timber supply.