CTI Blog - Timber industry: investing in young people for a brighter future

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CTI Blog - Timber industry: investing in young people for a brighter future

This blog post is by Dirk Vennix, CTI Chief Executive

Some time ago I was roaming around a village book fair when I stumbled upon the biography of Dr Carl Horst Hahn, chairman emeritus of Volkswagen Group. ‘From apprentice to CEO: Carl Hahn 40 years in Volkswagen’ was an inspiring, motivational example of what you can achieve with clear targets in mind and solid support from your employer.

Building a career like Carl Hahn did, step by step, is a huge challenge. Every year thousands of youngsters in the UK start their careers as apprentices looking for an opportunity to learn, earn and grow. And many businesses in the timber supply chain already offer apprenticeship places. According to the Skill Funding Agency report (December 2014), more than 850,000 people have been involved in an apprenticeship in a range of business sectors from 2013 to 2014. Their work contributed £34 billion to the UK economy in 2014.

We are talking about investing in the future. A concept which the companies working across the timber supply chain implement on a daily basis. Think about it for a few minutes and you will discover that the career opportunities are immense. From Forestry to Shipping; from Manufacturing to Distributing; from Printing to Energy Production, the Timber Industry is an endless source of possibilities.  Currently, timber related apprenticeships feature saw mills, wood machinists, boat buildings, carpentry and joinery, administration, sales, flooring, marketing, manufacturing and many more.

That’s why the CTI strongly believes that Education and Skills development needs to match these opportunities to ensure that Timber leads the way in 21st Century Construction.  On the 23th of September the CTI network will meet to set up a specific workgroup on this subject involving a range of organisations and companies across the Timber Industry. Firstly we need to answer some 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? How do we get specifiers, designers and contractors to increase demand for their skills?

Secondly, we must realise that educational programmes are win-win scenarios. For example, thanks to the apprenticeships scheme, young people now have more opportunities to learn as they earn, gaining a recognised qualification and growing their careers. On the other hand, employers also benefit from training their future managers, instilling company values and gaining their loyalty whilst strengthening mutually beneficial relationships with colleges and getting helpful grants.

Last but not least, we shouldn’t forget the current economic situation. In these uncertain times it pays to train and be open to creative solutions. Businesses that invest in their workforce are more likely to flourish again and survive in the long-term. As Gerald Chertavian, Founder and CEO of Year Up said: “Investing in our young people is not just a matter of economic justice, it’s good business sense.”