Karl D. Forth
How do you measure proficiency in woodworking? An industry group is working to establish standards for woodworkers, and you can be a part of it.
National skills standards of excellence for woodworking are being developed by the Woodwork Career Alliance of North America. The standards of tool
skills and evaluations are being written by volunteers.
Architectural Woodwork Institute has been a leader in this effort, doing an initial
study and serving as secretariat for the program. AWI’s Greg Heuer told me recently
that the alliance is trying to establish objectives and outcomes.
Standards will be used to measure performance and results, and will include a
voluntary assessment program that allows woodworkers to demonstrate skills and
earn credentials recognized throughout North America.
The alliance hopes to help identify skills required by employers, recognize accomplished skills, establish benchmarks for performance, establish a foundation for
credentials and validate accredited training programs.
Scott Nelson, president of Central Plains Woodwork in Lincoln, Neb., is serving
as president of the alliance. He pointed out that woodworking is one of only a few
industries that does not have skill standards to help evaluate, educate and compensate its workforce.
You can help
Standards and credentials are goals
Heuer says that by the end of this year, the alliance wants to have a pilot program
written that includes skills for about 15 common tools in the U.S. and Canada. As a
pilot testing program, companies will evaluate employees against these standards,
and create a framework for the skills standards.
Starting at AWFS in July 2009, Heuer says the group wants to expand the pilot
program to include a much broader range of the woodworking industry to include
upholstery, components and other markets. Then, by the end of 2010, they want
to issue a completed program with the exception of the actual credentialing arm.
Heuer says they hope to have the credentialing process in place by the end of 2013.
In addition to AWI, the non-profit alliance is working with the Wood Education
and Resource Center, Northeastern Area State and Private Forestry, Forest Service
and U.S. Dept. of Agriculture.
Heuer says one of the areas that can use immediate help is in adding expertise.
Go to skillstandards.wikispaces.com, and join as an editor or an author for tools for
which you have particular expertise or experience. If you have a lot of experience
in band saws, for example, sign on and look at what’s been written already, and add
your expertise to the information on the band saw. Someone else might be good on
moulders or edgebanders. Interested people can also visit woodworker.org
“At this point in the project we are seeking out contributors who are willing and
eager to share their expertise and experience to keep our industry strong and professional,” Nelson said. “We invite everyone to become involved.”
Your time contribution could be small, but the end result could have a large
benefit for the industry.