Technological advances continue to transform how furniture, cabinets and other wood products are designed, manufactured, assembled and finished. In addition to developments like the advent of five-axis machining centers and robotic finishing lines, mainstay industry workhorses - table saws, moulders, sanders, etc. - have been improved to be more productive and safer to operate.
The woodworking technology revolution has spawned great career opportunities for CAD/CAM programmers, CNC operators and other essential skilled positions that are in high demand but short supply.
Enter the Woodwork Career Alliance of North America.
The WCA was established 10 years ago to help develop and grow a skilled woodworking workforce. The WCA has created more than 240 measurable woodworking skill standards running the gamut from accurately reading a tape measurer through operating a CNC router. The skill standards are being used to develop woodworking education curricula and industry training programs.
Complementing the Skill Standards is the WCA’s Passport credentialing program. The WCA Passport is a portable, personal and permanent record of woodworking skill achievements. The more than 1,600 students and professionals who currently hold Passports boost their career potential by earning points which are awarded each time they demonstrate their proficiency of specific woodworking operations covered by the Skill Standards.
More than 100 high school woodworking programs distributed throughout North America are EDUcation members of the WCA. Students enrolled at these institutions are eligible to earn a Sawblade certificate by demonstrating basic skills with a jointer, table saw, portable hand sander and drill press, plus passing an online test.
The Sawblade certificate provides high schools with a way to recognize and celebrate the achievements of their woodworking students. These students are well poised to advance through the credentialing process by accumulating additional Passport points and gaining industry experience.
Together, the WCA Skill Standards and Passport program provide a pathway for a woodworker’s professional development and earnings potential.
Learn more about the WCA and its programs at www.WoodworkCareer.org.
By Rich Christianson