Industry News

British Woodworking Federation appoints new President

Cliff Thrumble, Managing Director of Boyland Windows has been appointed new President of the British Woodworking Federation (BWF).

Mr Thrumble built his career at Boyland Joinery over 20 years, starting as a labourer before completing an apprenticeship as a bench joiner and working his way up through the company via design, estimating and surveying before becoming commercial director and then managing director at 35. He has also managed the Timber Window Accreditation Scheme and been heavily involved with the Wood Window Alliance.

Mr Thrumble takes on the BWF presidency after three years of leadership by David Pattenden, managing director of Specialist Joinery (South) Ltd.

The new BWF President said: “I owe a debt of gratitude to David who steps down as president having led the BWF through its most successful years yet. The BWF is now in excellent shape, with more than 700 members, subscriptions increasing, a clear strategy and a powerful voice with policy makers.

“My most urgent priority in my time as president will be about helping to tackle the ongoing skills crisis, both in terms of increasing awareness of joinery as a secure and rewarding trade to bright school children and career changers, and increasing the commitment to training given to joiners, machinist and installers. This is a critical part of the BWF’s action plan for the success of the industry.

“It is also very much about ensuring the BWF talks to the wider industry, and our members talk to us. We have a strong trade body, but we need to do more to grow membership and engage as many as possible in our work. This means meeting the needs of all members and adding their voice to ours. A key part of my role will be in helping the BWF team to keep our feet on the ground while we look to the horizon.”

Iain McIlwee, Chief Executive of the BWF, commented: “Cliff has the woodworking industry in his DNA. He has already contributed a huge amount to bringing the BWF to where it is today. He gets the practicalities and can help us to shape the changes we need to deliver to support an evolving sector in a new economic environment.

“We live in interesting and exciting times. The years of Cliff’s presidency are likely to be among the most critical in the history of the woodworking industry, and we are looking forward to meeting the many changes head on.”

The appointment of the BWF’s new president took place at the AGM and annual Members’ Day which attracted 150 representatives from joinery manufacturing businesses across the country.


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BWF joins the Sustainable Traditional Building Alliance

The British Woodworking Federation (BWF) has joined the Sustainable Traditional Buildings Alliance (STBA).

The collaboration between the two not-for-profit organisations aims to establish a forum for sustaining and improving traditional buildings in the UK. 

Formed in late 2011, the Alliance draws its support from three main sectors – Heritage, Industry and Sustainability. ‘Heritage’ in this context does not confine itself to historic and protected buildings, but refers more broadly to any pre-1919 traditionally-constructed building. 

The STBA promotes and delivers a more sustainable traditional built environment in the UK through high-quality research, education, training and policy. It also produces short and usable guidance (e.g.Planning Responsible Retrofit of Traditional Buildings) based upon best current research and practice.

"We will be working with the SBTA to provide better access to information on windows and we very much hope to develop joint training for conservation officers and to highlight the issues", BWF commented.


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BWF Chief sends letter to Chancellor asking to tackle skills gap

Iain McIlwee, Chief Executive of the British Woodworking Federation (BWF), has sent a letter to the Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne underling problems and opportunities within the UK woodworking sector.

The letter - written ahead of the Government Budget announcement on March 16th - focused on four main themes:

  • Bad payment practice continues to undermine the market
  • Supporting UK Manufacturing 
  • Cost of doing Business
  • Nurturing the skills needed to meet demand

"The UK wood products manufacturing sector is a vital part of the UK economy supplying furniture and products for the construction industry, adding over £3 billion to the UK economy every year", said Mr Mcllwee. "Carpentry and joinery also represents the third largest sector of employment in the construction industry and brings skilled jobs to both rural and urban areas."

"Thanks to growth in construction and a realisation that renewable material is intrinsic to a sustainable built environment, we are optimistic about the future of the timber sector. Despite this we remain concerned that the benefits of this growth may not be fully realised in the UK and are not shared equally or in a timely fashion through the whole of the supply chain", BWF CEO warned.

Mr McIllwee particularly pointed out the problem of skills gap in the Woodworking sector, as already stressed by the BWF Joinery State of Trade Survey Q4 2015: "We should be looking at clearing systems for apprentices in order to prevent wastage and also help to target interested parties with information and informed choice.  Developing a meaningful and scalable interface with schools is a priority as adequate careers guidance in schools is now non-existent. This is not the fault of schools as they are being pushed towards academic subjects but there is a fundamental failure to help young people to understand the choices they have, let alone prepare them for them."

Read the complete letter here.


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BWF Survey: Labour availability is main concern for UK Joinery manufacturers

The British Woodworking Federation (BWF) has recently issued the Joinery State of Trade Survey Q4 2015.

The consultation underlines that sales expectations for 2016 remain optimistic but labour availability and the cost of appropriately skilled labour still represent main concerns for the joinery sector.

Respondents also state they will keep on investing in product improvement and manufacturing equipment with order books looking encouraging for early 2016.

"The survey showed a slightly lower increase in sales volumes and plenty of confidence in terms of expected sales over the next quarter and year. Although this is encouraging, the risks to businesses remain with many joinery companies finding it tricky to recruit the right staff and many contracts taking place in an unbalanced supply chain where major contractors rarely take on the risk", commented BWF Policy & Communications Executive Matt Mahony.

"One of the main challenges to the sector is labour availability and costs. Looking forward, April’s introduction of the National Living Wage, could have a critical effect on remuneration structures in parts of the country where wages are lower. With plenty of work available, and the industry coming out of a recession, it is perhaps less of a surprise to see labour availability replace demand as the most likely constraint on activity”, Mr. Mahony added.

Find out more here.


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Joinery apprenticeships risk to disappear, BWF warns

Apprenticeship numbers in the joinery and woodworking industry could suffer “catastrophic collapse” if the CITB was abolished, according to a policy response this month from the British Woodworking Federation (BWF).

The BWF has submitted views to the Government’s consultation on a new apprenticeship levy, explaining a catalogue of concerns about the future funding of apprenticeships and the support available for wider training initiatives.

Iain McIlwee, chief executive of the BWF, said: “The joinery and woodworking sector delivers a third of all apprenticeships in construction, the highest ratio in all the specialist trades. The joinery apprentice is the lifeblood of this industry and the flow of new apprentices has been fundamental to delivering skills to our sector."

Find out more here.