Paul Bailey, BWF President
Paul Bailey, founder and managing director of European Doorsets, took over as BWF President in June 2019. He succeeds Sean Parnaby, managing director of West Port Timber Windows, who has been President of the association since October 2016. Paul has over 30 years’ experience in the woodworking sector. He established European Doorsets, manufacturers of bespoke performance doors, doorsets and associated joinery items, in 1990 and for a number of years has been an active member of the BWF. Paul has been integral to driving forward the BWF’s aims and ethos, having been a member of the association’s board of directors for 13 years and vice president since 2016.
Paul’s priorities as President – in his own words, June 2019
Political events continue to dictate the activities of businesses across all sectors and the uncertainty over Brexit has undoubtedly made it difficult to plan ahead, particularly for the joinery and woodworking industry. However, if any sector has the skills, experience and resilience to make alternative plans and get on with things, then it’s ours. I’m confident that with support from the BWF and overarching leadership from the Confederation of Timber Industries, the industry is well placed to build on the encouraging growth it has experienced over the past few years.
There are two areas in particular that I believe are fundamental to ensuring this progress continues; attracting the next generation of talent and communicating the benefits of wood to professional audiences and the general public.
Attracting and retaining talent
The latest innovations in wood manufacturing require a diverse range of new skills, including computer-aided design and programming, and we’ll be competing with other manufacturing industries to attract the best talent.
The BWF believes that ensuring a future workforce for the sector is built upon three key stages: promoting woodworking to young talent, ensuring apprentices quickly become work-ready and, finally, continuing to support career development to create the stars and leaders of tomorrow.
A series of BWF initiatives have been carefully designed to support each of these stages, and I’m looking forward to playing a part in their success.
The BWF’s “Wow I Made That” schools programme is designed to inspire and engage young minds – connecting education with industry to offer routes into apprenticeships. The BWF supports employers and develops apprenticeship standards to ensure they are fit-for-purpose for the modern and innovative manufacturing techniques that we increasingly use as a sector.
Apprenticeship schemes and grants available from the Construction Industry Training Board (CITB) are making qualifications a more realistic achievement for many. High quality-programmes and funding help to give young people a real chance, equipping them with the technical skills that they, and our industry, so desperately need.
Promoting wood as a building material
The BWF’s Build it Better with Wood campaign champions the many benefits of using wood as a building material, with sustainability, efficiency, safety and healthy buildings as the key drivers / messages. As an industry we must continue to communicate these benefits to a broad range of stakeholders, and I see this as a large part of my wider role as the BWF’s President.
Through my particular area of specialism within woodwork and joinery, I have long been an advocate of the virtues of wood as a safe building material. Amid uncertainly and inertia among local councils concerning the replacement of inadequate fire doors, products independently certified through the BWF’s Fire Door Alliance scheme can give building owners the confidence they have chosen products that are reliable and durable, and will perform as required in the event of a fire. I’m thrilled that this has now been definitively evidenced through independent testing of timber fire doors by the UK Government, which published its findings in July 2019.
The BWF’s Fire Door Alliance will be actively pushing this safety message over the coming months, culminating with the BWF’s flagship awareness campaign Fire Door Safety Week in September, which continues to gain influence year-on-year.
The BWF will also continue to drive forward its other highly successful initiatives – the BWF Stair Scheme and Wood Window Alliance. There is a fantastic opportunity for us to promote the benefits of wood staircases and window frames to both professional and consumer audiences, building on the growth that both sectors have enjoyed in recent years.
I’m excited about the future as I take on the role at such a critical time for our industry. United by a passion for wood, I’m looking forward to working with my colleagues at the BWF to raise the profile of UK woodworking, tackle the skills gap and drive innovation and growth throughout the sector.