Small- and mid-size wood products companies represent a large employment base in rural communities, but the woodworking trade doesn't have an established professional pathway to help companies recruit new talent, or to train and measure the skills of their existing workforce. Today’s technology- based woodworking facilities need skilled professionals for a thriving, forest- based economy.
The Skilled Workforce Initiative will strengthen the wood products manufacturing industry by providing a training and credentialing system to ensure the industry has the highly skilled workers it needs to compete in a global market while also creating a career path for workers in the industry.
"As our workforce ages, businesses and our education system need to prepare a new generation of motivated men and women with relevant skills in this industry. This program can elevate interest in wood manufacturing as a potential career track for young people and help us recruit new talent.”
The Center is partnering with the national Woodwork Career Alliance (WCA), the Architectural Woodwork Institute, the Vermont Wood Manufacturers Association and the Maine Wood Products Association to pioneer WCA’s skill standards and credentialing program in Vermont, New Hampshire, and Maine.
Our program breaks new ground by working systematically with manufacturers, which is the key to building wide acceptance and achieving the program’s goals. We are also working with educational institutions to prepare students for good jobs in the wood manufacturing industry.
The Skilled Workforce Initiative will lead to a higher rate of job placement and job satisfaction for workers. The magazine of the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston covered the skills gap and how our program will help strengthen the industry.
More About Skill Standards
The Center has been working with the Woodwork Career Alliance (WCA) to adapt and implement its Skills Standards program for the region. WCA had worked closely with the wood manufacturing industry across the nation to develop Skill Standards for machines and tools important in wood products manufacturing. These standards serve as industry-accepted operational procedures for measuring performance and results produced by woodworking professionals.
In connection with the Skill Standards, WCA has also created a credentialing program, the “Woodwork Passport,” to provide a permanent personal record of a woodworker’s competency in tool and machine operations. For each operation on each machine, a worker can be certified at three levels: basic, intermediate and advanced. This is an important step in establishing woodworking as a profession rather than just a job.
The Center’s Skilled Workforce Initiative builds on WCA’s Skill Standards and Woodwork Passport program. To meet the needs of manufacturers in Vermont, New Hampshire, and Maine, we have doubled the number of machines with Skill Standards to more than 100.
The Center has also worked with WCA and a variety of foundations and agencies to make the Skilled Workforce Initiative very cost effective for companies and educational institutions in our region.