CTI Blog

CTI Blog - The Timber Skills Funnel: Unlocking potential

This blog post is by BWF Chief Executive and Member of CTI Board of Directors Iain McIlwee. It originally featured in the CTI Newsletter Winter 2017-18.

 

Currently a third of construction apprenticeships are employed in the wood trades, but this is just the tip of the iceberg for timber. The opportunities to work in the timber sector are manifold, currently employing 350,000 people, the £10 billion integrated supply chain is actively engaging talent in developing pre-manufactured buildings and components for construction, seeking foresters to support our vibrant forestry sector, creating new roles to support digitalisation and logistics in the complex and evolving supply chain, employing ever more engineers, technicians and product designers to support our modern manufacturing units and requires high-level craftsmen to produce bespoke furniture or deliver complex restoration work fundamental to preserving our heritage. Whilst we remain optimistic about the future, we have some fundamental concerns about the education and training landscape

The Confederation of Timber Industries through the Wood Industry Training Group is looking to ensure that these opportunities are communicated and the infrastructure in place to support sector growth. At the top of the skills funnel (attracting people into the industry), the Makeit Wood Campaign is an exciting initiative, reaching into schools across the UK. This educational program fits into the Design and Technology curriculum in years 9-12. We have plans to scale this work up, however have concerns that Design and Technology is a subject in decline

Despite being a practical subject that engenders a vital understanding of our manufacturing industries and the fundamentals of product design, skills so critical to any industrial strategy, it is seen as somehow less important than the more academic sciences.  he decline in GCSE entries in this subject (from 440,000 in 2004 to just 185,279 in the last academic year) is a real concern for the UK industrial sector. Teacher recruitment in this discipline is also at an all-time low (less than 50% of the target DfE set in 2016) making the subject unviable in an increasing number of schools. As part of any overhaul of the Technical Routes for education Design and Technology should have equal status with the sciences on the National Curriculum. 

As an industry, we are optimistic that the Apprenticeship Levy and resulting reforms provide greater flexibility and suitable incentive to deliver positive change. In readiness we have developed new Apprenticeship Standards covering manufacturing, processing and furniture production and we welcome the control that these standards hand back to the employers, however, the process needs urgent attention. It is taking too long to develop new standards and the goal-posts set by the Institute of Apprenticeships seem to be a moving target.  Delivery is also a challenge, with FE Colleges under increasing financial pressure and limited support for the capital investment and additional space required to offer many of our courses. 

The timber industry is working hard to support these vital institutions through the BWF Centres of Excellence initiative. As we develop ever closer relationships it is clear that more needs to be done to address the inherent competition between schools and FE Colleges.  Developing a focus for Technical Qualifications through a UCAS equivalent system is also a priority that should focus on post 16 learners and ensure that all training and apprenticeship opportunities are presented to all students without prejudice. This process should also support a “clearing” system to minimise wastage, recycle opportunity and support informed choice. Every effort must be taken to ensure that the Technical Routes are not seen as the lesser option.

Higher level apprenticeships and the traditional academic routes also have a strong role to play to support innovation and the implementation of cutting-edge technology and as a consequence similar initiatives are being set up with Universities across the UK. The timber industry needs a constant flow of graduates in disciplines such as wood science, product design engineering, process engineering, mechanical and materials engineering as well as business, IT and logistical focussed subjects to support the digitalisation and ‘service-ification’ of manufacturing and construction. It is for this reason that the CTI and our respective Trade Bodies are working with Universities around the UK and exploring the opportunity of setting up an Innovation Council to better support innovation through collaborative networks across the UK.  

Timber is very much seen as the emerging material of the 21st Century with huge global potential. To ensure the UK economy is well placed to benefit from the clear obvious opportunities that timber offers to develop, from forest through to factory a profitable supply chain capable of delivering to support the UK economic and sustainable targets, it is critical that we continue to work to ensure that schools, colleges and universities are engaged with industry.

This means collaborating to develop our rising into work ready pioneers that can help to support the UK in building a modern and sustainable and world-leading industrial sector, capable of harnessing digitalisation, leading manufacturing 4.0 and ensuring the timber industry is a jewel in the UK industrial crown. 

 

[News URL: http://cti-timber.org/content/cti-blog-timber-skills-funnel-unlocking-potential]

CTI Blog - CTI gets great response from Industry on skill shortages in Timber Supply Chain

This blog is by Dirk Vennix, CTI Chief Executive

You will recall the CTI launched the largest employer skills questionnaire ever undertaken in the UK's Timber Industry Supply Chain in January. We got a very good response with nearly 150 senior executives and other company representatives giving us their views on a wide range of topics related to skills, schools and further and higher education. The survey results are being collated in a skills policy report being produced by Proskills and kindly sponsored by International Timber.

Proskills have now produced the first draft to be published in the Spring of 2016. The CTI will present the findings to skills minister Nick Boles and Government officials in order to shape the political agenda on education and skills as indicated in our recently published strategic plan.

As I said in my previous blog about skills the CTI strongly believes that Education and Skills development is critical to ensure that Timber leads the way in 21st Century Construction. Members of our skills working group agreed last year that to start with we need to answer some basic questions:

  • Where are the skills shortages and skills gaps?
  • Do colleges and universities engage with timber businesses?
  • Does the industry want to take on more apprentices? What are the policy barriers?

Thanks to a very good response from businesses in the timber supply chain we have now received a wide range of answers to these questions which will help us to reflect what you need in the workplace. Initial findings indicate that several sub sectors already have plans underway to tackle skills needs but in other places the industry still needs to articulate the requirement for increased demand for timber-specific content. Equally, Government clearly still has to provide more support and make a stronger case for investment in training across the timber supply chain.

Thanks to International Timber’s generous support the CTI has been able to ask Proskills to put your views on key policy issues in a report which they will present at the CTI's inaugural industry conference, kindly sponsored by premium sponsor CIFS Nexus, in the Spring.

If CTI members are interested in a preview of the draft report’s provisional findings the CTI’s Skills and Education working group will be meeting again in London on 25 April to discuss the initial outcomes. Do get in touch with the CTI if you would like to attend.

 

[Blog URL: http://www.cti-timber.org/content/cti-blog-cti-gets-great-response-industry-skill-shortages-timber-supply-chain]

CTI Blog - CTI launches largest ever survey on skill shortages in timber supply chain

This blog is by Dirk Vennix, CTI Chief Executive

I am really pleased to announce that the Confederation of Timber Industry (CTI) has published the largest employer skills questionnaire ever undertaken in the UK's Timber Industry Supply Chain. The views of businesses on skills and education will be summarised in a policy report to be published in the Spring of 2016. The CTI will present the findings to Government and key stakeholders in order to shape the political agenda on education and skills as indicated in our recently published strategic plan.

As I said in my previous blog about skills the CTI strongly believes that Education and Skills development is critical to ensure that Timber leads the way in 21st Century Construction. On the 23th of September 2015 the CTI network set up a specific working group on this subject involving a range of organisations and companies across the Timber Industry. We agreed that to start with we need to answer some basic questions: where are the skills shortages? Where will the supply come from? What is needed in terms of funding and infrastructure? How do we get the next generation to want a career in the timber sector?

The last major employers’ survey for the timber sector was conducted by Proskills in 2011. We now need up to date research which identifies the current level of skills shortages and gaps in education provision within the whole Timber Industry Supply Chain, from timber traders to timber frame manufacturers and builders’ merchants. It will be distributed to businesses through trade associations, training providers and other interested parties operating in the UK.

The CTI has commissioned Proskills to map current education providers delivering to the sector, highlighting gaps between supply and demand. Similarly, the research will identify areas of strength and excellence offering a catalyst for the engagement of the industry in improving skills, recruitment and training. 

Succession planning for an ageing workforce and gaps in provision are issues which need to be addressed. Few young people decide to choose timber as a career option, as repeatedly outlined by trade organisations, training providers and companies. This issue is exacerbated by the limited offer of further Education courses, apprenticeships and craft qualifications that affects the growth of the whole sector. It is time to turn the page addressing the problem with focused measures.

The launch of the survey represents a great opportunity for the timber industries to express their views about skills needs. Everyone is keen to encourage young people to go for a career in the timber sector. Depending on the outcomes of the survey the CTI could raise the profile of the industry with young people by supporting the launch of new timber related courses as well as helping increase the number of apprenticeships and developing an ambassadorial schools network across the supply chain. But first of all we need to hear your views so please help us to reflect what you need in the workplace by filling in the survey below.

The survey is accessible online or through a printable version, downloadable here.

Deadline for submissions: 5 February 2016