CTI Blog

CTI Blog - CTI putting timber industry back in the spotlight

This blog post is by Dirk Vennix, CTI Chief Executive

We witnessed another memorable moment last week. For the first time in the history of the timber industry more than 40 parliamentarians announced that they would form a group to help grow the use of sustainable timber and develop more vibrant industries across the whole timber supply chain.

On 9 February fifteen parliamentarians attended the first meeting of the new All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) for the Timber Industries and had an initial discussion about tackling key issues such as business growth, sustainability and skills shortages. They unanimously elected a cross-party officers group consisting of Chairman Ian Paisley MP for North Antrim in Northern Ireland (Democratic Unionists), Joint Vice Chair and former minister Cheryl Gillan MP for Chesham and Amersham (Conservatives), Joint Vice Chair Stephen Hepburn MP for Jarrow (Labour), Treasurer and Chair of the Wood Panel Industry APPG Steven Paterson MP for Stirling (SNP) and Secretary and Chair of the Furniture APPG Stephen McPartland MP for Stevenage (Conservatives).

All members of the new group have voiced their willingness to promote the use of timber UK wide but also support local timber related companies. The MPs are really very keen to meet with constituency businesses and as a result the CTI has around a dozen visits in the pipeline already.

The first took place on 12 February when APPG member Pat McFadden MP for Wolverhampton South East went to see CTI supporter John Grimes Sawmills in Wolverhampton. The MP was elected at the 2005 general election and served as Minister of State in the Department for Business in the Tony Blair government. He was also a shadow minister for Europe on the Labour front bench. Pat McFadden was welcomed to the site by Arvid Nielsen, Operations Director of John Grimes Sawmills Ltd (JGS Ltd) and John Dibble, Managing Director of the Building & Plumbing Supplies Group, which are the parent Company of JGS Ltd.

Arvid (pictured below with cap on) runs the manufacturing wholesale business, which has been based in Wolverhampton for over 30 years.  Arvid has been hands on in a variety of wood trade related fields for over 38 years.  Being a third generation wood trade member, he keeps his grandfather and father’s name present in the timber industry as well as trading with some sense of traditional ethical values. JGS Ltd specialise in the production of quality fencing panels which are supplied to fencing contractors and builders merchants all round the country. Arvid gave the MP a tour of the site which is proud to employ 20 staff and manufacture in excess of 10,000 panels per week with yard stock capacity of over 70,000 panels. 

Given his background as a former business minister Pat McFadden was impressed with the manufacturing capability and pleased to hear that the company has plans to expand. Arvid told the MP he is keen to stay in the local area and provide further opportunities for employment and training. John Grimes Sawmills already employs a number of apprentices and is keen to encourage more young people to start a career in timber manufacturing. Pat McFadden said he was happy to help the local business in any way he can.

The launch of the new APPG and the MP visit were good examples of how the CTI is raising the profile of timber industry within the parliamentary world and we are keen to help other supporters to connect with their local MP. Do get in touch if you are one of them.

Pat McFadden MP visit to John Grimes Sawmills
12 February 2016, Wolverhampton

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

CTI publishes three year strategic plan

This blog post is by Dirk Vennix, CTI Chief Executive

In June 2015 30 organisations came together to launch the CTI. Six months on, the Confederation has doubled in size, providing the CTI with an even bigger platform to deliver its vision: one campaigning voice which will help develop a vibrant and increasingly prosperous industry.  

In order to make this all happen the CTI Board recently had a look at where the industry is now and could be in the next few years. Today the CTI publishes its strategic plan for 2015-2017 which is going to address four strategic themes: stakeholder engagement, growth, skills and sustainability.

Stakeholder engagement

It is fair to say that the timber supply chain is pretty fragmented and up to now has not had a single industry voice on policy issues that matter. The CTI will engage with Governments and parliaments to help build support for issues such as growth, skills an sustainability. In 2016 activities include our inaugural stakeholder conference with contributions from ministers, parliamentarians, industry executives and other key stakeholders as well as events which are being planned by a new parliamentary group for the timber industries. Watch this space!


So far industry dialogue with Government on incentives for growth has been quite limited whilst the various sectors in the supply chain have had to deal with tough economic times and are only just starting to show some growth now. In order to help grow the use of timber the CTI will publish a report assessing the markets and start developing new incentives, local government partnerships and alliances with construction and manufacturing sectors.


If the industry is going to grow this will exacerbate the existing skills shortages and gaps in the education system. Not enough young people are looking for work in the timber industry. On top of that, the provision of further and higher education courses is fairly minimal across the country and there are not enough apprenticeships in the supply chain. The CTI has commissioned Proskills to assess industry needs in 2016 and where required will support the launch of new timber related courses for young people as well as help increase the number of apprenticeships. We will also encourage more young people to go for a career in the sector by helping to develop an ambassadorial schools network across the supply chain.


Last but not least, the Board’s stocktake found that the sector could do more to develop a credible place at the forefront of the low carbon society. The CTI will publish a report which further develops the case for low carbon footprint and further contributions to the UK’s carbon reduction targets.  We will also help CTI members in their quest to ensure consistent application of existing certification standards and improve implementation of timber related regulations in the EU.

Next steps

Needless to say there is a lot of work to be done in the next few years. In the short term, the CTI will publish and present the Board’s initial findings and recommendations to Government on growth, skills and sustainability at our inaugural stakeholder conference in May 2016.

It will take a while for the CTI to develop further but the building blocks have been put in place and we have made substantial progress with the strategic plan which you will find on our website. Not even in my wildest dreams did I picture an industry landscape with such a high degree of support after six months. I hope more organisations will join the CTI network and help us to continue to take baby steps to a brighter future for the benefit of the whole timber supply chain.

Download CTI Strategic Plan 2015-2017

CTI Blog - Global sustainability issues require global and innovative solutions

This blog post is by Dirk Vennix, CTI Chief Executive

Can Economic Growth and Sustainability co-exist? This question has been debated for decades and is at the core of the UN Climate Change Conference (COP21) taking place this week in Paris.

Preserving Earth’s resources implies not only the switch to a low carbon, sustainable and long-lasting economic model, but also the engagement of all the productive sectors. In other words: global issues require global and innovative solutions.

The challenge is huge but the timber industries are ready to tackle it head on. Timber is the only true renewable construction and manufacturing material and we want to reinforce this message. Flexible, mouldable and low-energy processed, timber-based products could really contribute to a low carbon economy, helping UK to achieve its carbon reduction targets.

Several research studies show that increasing the use of wooden products from sustainable managed forests would have beneficial implications on the environment: - replanting of harvested trees [1]; - storing carbon in timber products [2]; - promoting woodland expansion all over the world [3]; - reducing emissions and air pollution [4].

If the equation is easy to understand - more trees planted = more CO2 absorbed – we still have a long way go to spread this message to key decision makers and opinion formers. The Confederation of Timber Industries will do its share in promoting this new approach. With the help of our supporters including timber supply chain companies and environmental organisations, we are going to publish a report on growing the use of sustainable timber in May 2016.

The aim will be to report on the future of timber as the only truly sustainable material and how the sector could develop a credible place at the forefront of the low carbon economy. Replenishing natural resources, both domestically and globally, is our responsibility, as well as enhancing a sustainable and prosperous model business model.

The CTI Board has already agreed clear objectives in its strategic plan (2015-2017) which will be covered by the report,  including: - develop the case for low carbon footprint in the domestic market; - ensure there is consistent application of standards through established certification schemes; - improve application and enforcement of timber related regulation in key EU member states.

To expand on the last objective the report will include an analysis of the EU’s review of the European Union Timber Regulation (EUTR). Although it represents a valid tool to tackle illegal logging and trade, its effectiveness is clearly undermined by loopholes and exceptions [5]. Similarly we believe the implementation of the EUTR should be more closely aligned with other related policies such as CITES (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora) and FLEGT (Forest Law Enforcement, Governance and Trade).

The CTI welcomes the application of consistent standards, clear due diligence requirements and fair competition between companies in different member states. There is substantial scope for improvements to the EUTR and the CTI strongly supports the WWF and trade associations who are already campaigning on the issues surrounding timber regulation in the EU.

The more united we stand, the more chance we have to make an impact around the decision-making tables. 



[1] “In managed European forests there are five trees planted for each harvested”, Timber Accord, 2014

[2] “Roughly one tonne of carbon is stored for every metre cubed of timber used. If we build 200,000 new houses in timber it would store around 4 million tonnes of carbon dioxide every year”, Wood For Good, 2014

[3] “Europe’s forests have increased by almost 13 million ha - about the size of Greece - in the past 15 years through new planting and natural expansion of forests,” Forest Europe report, 2011

[4] “By increasing the UK’s forest cover from 13 to 16%, we could reduce around 10% of our national CO2 emissions by 2050”, Timber Accord, 2014

[5] For instance, the EUTR excludes seat products (including chairs and sofas) from its scope alongside musical instruments, soft furnishings and toys. The TTF has estimated that the EUTR currently only covers approximately 40% of products by value that originate from forests 

CTI Blog - CTI Scholarship, nurturing a new generation of Architects

This blog is by Adrian Jabonero, architect and MSc Timber Industry Management student at Edinburgh Napier University

When I received the news that I had been awarded the CTI Scholarship to study MSc Timber Industry Management at Edinburgh Napier University, I thought I was very fortunate. Since the first moment, I was conscious that developing my profile studying at one of the most prominent universities on the Built Environment in the UK was a great opportunity. In addition, Edinburgh is a great place to live in.

From my perspective as an Architect, I am conscious of the increasing engagement in terms of environmental and social responsibility in the built environment. This must be encompassed with an efficient management and proper technical knowledge. The MSc Timber Industry Management course is focused on Construction Project Management, Sustainable Design and, of course, Timber Construction. The MSc in Timber Industry Management is unique as its curriculum joins up these key connected subjects allowing to develop the Sustainable Construction Industry for the future.

So far the Strategic Management module has given me the chance to get in touch with the Timber Industry’s reality. Studying the case studies of some featured companies and drafting a strategy for the forthcoming years is stimulating.

The Project Management module provides theoretical and technical base for future Project Managers in Construction, highlighting the development of critical thinking skills and the acquisition of managerial competencies.

The Sustainable Building Design module offers another approach to the industry. This module drafts a vision on environmental issues, involving social and economic aspects as well. It challenges the students with projects on sustainable housing and public buildings in disparate locations.

Thus the course and the city of Edinburgh are exceeding my expectations. ENU enjoys a vibrant student activity, promoting a hands-on approach in a new technologies focused atmosphere.

Moreover, the CTI scholarship supported by the TTF  is unique, giving me the chance to know from within the industry how featured companies work. It is our aim to provide regular updates on site visits through the CTI Blog.

Again, my sincere gratitude to CTI, TTF and ENU for such opportunity.