The Shortage of Skilled Woodworkers

October 9, 2013

A major setback many companies are facing is the shortage of skilled woodworkers; but there are programs available to avoid or solve this dilemma.

For the last 30 years, a career in the woodworking industry has been considered a last resort for most people. The school systems in the country have been designed to guide everyone to attend college. As a result we have an aging workforce with fewer and fewer younger people available to take the place of retiring employees. This situation is further complicated by the production equipment becoming more and more technology oriented.   Managers are having a difficult time finding someone qualified to operate a $200,000 machine.

To address this situation the Regional Woodworkers Consortium and the Woodwork Career Alliance (WCA) are operating a new credentialing and training program in a limited number of states. When a worker satisfies standards for a particular machine or tool this is added to the woodworkers "Woodwork Passport", which serves as a portable, permanent record that can be used for career advancement. The overall goal of this program is to encourage younger employees to enter the woodworking environment and provide them with the tools required to make a living wage. It will also help employers to locate valuable, skilled workers for their facilities. This is a program that WPMA fully supports and hopes many companies will take advantage of.  This program is working to help provide a partial solution to this major problem.

According to Collin Miller, of the Northern Forest Center, "this program provides a professional pathway we've needed in this industry for a long time.  We believe the program will lead to a higher rate of job placement and job satisfaction, and it will build and help sustain a skilled workforce so that wood products manufacturing can remain a vibrant part of the forest-based economy."   "Providing this training program should help workers in their careers and help the industry remain competitive." Collin Miller is also the co-sponsor of the program.

To learn more about the program please contact Collin Miller at 603-229-0679 ext. 110 for more information. Or visit: www.northernforest.org/skilled_workforce_initiative.html

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