CTI Blog - Speaking with one voice to grow UK Timber Industry
This guest blog post is by David Hopkins, CTI Director and Managing Director of the Timber Trade Federation (TTF)
This feature originally appeared on the Timber Trades Journal
Recent months have certainly seen major political upheaval. But, with this comes great opportunity.
The “un-democratic” nature of the European Union has been rejected and in its place we have a new Prime Minister appointed by a handful of MPs from one ruling party, without all that bother of voting or asking the electorate. It’s certainly efficient.
One thing is for sure, we can no longer use Europe as an excuse for inaction in our own economy and our own society. As we enter a new phase of trading arrangements, our politicians will have to show, very clearly, what they are doing and how their policies are making a positive difference right here at home.
As I write, the new Prime Minister is assembling a new team and putting forward a new agenda for Government. So far, the mood music sounds good with housing, skills and an industrial strategy at the centre of her opening speech.
With the policy ground shifting beneath our feet, it is important that the timber sector stands up to make its own voice known in this debate. We have a lot to offer. But, to do this effectively, we must stand together as a united timber supply chain.
That is why it has been so important that BWF has now joined the Confederation of Timber Industries (CTI) as an equal partner with STA and TTF. Working together we will be using the umbrella of the CTI as a focal point for our public affairs work, to promote the opportunity that the timber sector offers as a high-performance, low-carbon growth sector.
Each trade association is already leading on a variety of issues, together we can present them as a single voice.
The TTF will be leading on sustainable procurement, responsible sourcing and international & domestic trading issues. We are a proud trading nation with great links to producer countries across the world and are already working with DfID on a number of projects to aid links with key supply routes. The TTF will be ensuring that whatever the future looks like outside the EU, we maintain our international outlook and sustainable credentials.
The BWF has been leading on skills development, helping create ‘Centres of Excellence’ across the country. This is vital if we are to campaign to put skilled trades back at the heart of the UK economy and at the heart of every community. There are currently around 2,000 woodworking apprentices in the UK, the highest ratio of apprentices in construction for any sector. If we are to grow the sector we need to grow the pool of skilled labour it requires.
The STA has been doing sterling work in improving productivity throughout its expanding manufacturing base in the UK, as it works to take even greater market share and help deliver much needed sustainable housing across the country.
Together these actions – and others – will help us grow the £10 billion supply chain in the UK and gain the political recognition we deserve as a vital trade and manufacturing sector.
The first focal point for this will be our Parliamentary Conference and drinks in November. I look forward to seeing you there.