The British Woodworking Federation (BWF) is marking National Apprenticeship Week with a celebration of the wood industry’s commitment to apprenticeship training, and also a reminder to all joinery and woodworking firms of the continued need to attract the younger generation into careers in the industry.
Despite the economic conditions, BWF members continue to show their unwavering commitment to apprenticeship training. Professional joinery manufacturers and woodworking firms took on 550 new entrants in 2010 through CITB-ConstructionSkills alone, and expect the figures for 2011 to show a similarly strong performance.
Iain McIlwee, BWF Chief Executive, said, “Latest figures from CITB Construction Skills are a testament to forward thinking in our industry. Our members are recognising an apprentice can be a crucial factor in longer term business survival.
“The academic treadmill works well for many, but frankly choices need to be better presented. The wood industry is a dynamic and modern sector that is constantly evolving and integrating new technologies to meet ever changing and exacting customer demands. We need to draw in new talent to help with this development and can offer a rewarding career choice”.
Apprenticeships are the primary route for individuals to enter the woodworking industry, and with so many intent on setting up or running their own business can provide an effective route to significant business success.
Jon Gorf, MD of Parker & Highland Joinery Limited, is a prime example of how apprentices can progress within the industry to reach the heights of running a successful company.
Mr Gorf said, “I started my apprenticeship at the age of 17 where I gained my passion for industry. After many years of listening, learning and working hard, I struck out on my own and I’m now proud to be running a highly successful joinery company. The boot is now on the other foot and I am bringing in the next generation through apprenticeships. It’s been an enriching experience for me and I am learning from my apprentices who bring in fresh ideas and perspectives. I would encourage more to enter our industry with aspirations to progress to the top”.
According to figures from CITB Construction Skills, despite the high apprenticeship figures, the joinery industry still needs more entrants to sustain it in the longer-term.