News & Events

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 - Engaging with politicians both nationally and locally

This blog post is by CTI Chairman Roy Wakeman OBE. It originally appeared on the CTI Newsletter Winter 2017-18.

 

Whilst politicians come and go, their influence is continuous and so it is vital that the timber Industry engages fully with their local and national politicians and representatives.

It is so because our Industry whilst large, adding over £10bn to the UK economy and creating overall employment in direct and indirect trades of nigh on 500K people, has serious competition. This in the form of competing materials who display more aggressive lobbying techniques than we traditionally do.

Yet our message is fundamentally in today’s age stronger, whether for environmental issues, commercial advantage, productivity and if home grown timber was favoured in R&D, a positive on the UK economy and trade imbalance.

Sometimes it is easier for us to concentrate on our own Company or individual industry issues while, in the wider world, events can be more influential to our growth and success.

I mentioned the home grown timber Industry where some politicians might just think of this as a Scottish out post cottage industry or some historic way of delaying and maybe avoiding tax. But if invested in a radical way so that the species of timber to be grown can be proven to have a secure market to replace imported goods then the UK benefits both for employment and the balance of trade.

In vogue, today is the housing shortage and affordable housing for our future generations. We have a strong off-site production capacity that could be helped with a major investment that targets “kit-houses” designed for onsite erection with low costs.

Our imbalance of trade in the joinery industry is such that we need to address the reasons for our uncompetitive base and to explore with our politicians these reasons and thereby addressing the areas of need for investment and training. We consume more doors per capita than anywhere else in the world due to our history of small houses with lots of rooms and have become a natural target for global manufacturers based overseas to direct products at the UK.

We developed the factory assembled door set and in the case of fire door sets all that is necessary to obtain the third-party certification necessary to guarantee performance. We need to keep the pressure on government to make third party audits and certification part of the building regulations and not just a side document to make sure that when buildings get built all the necessary safety features are built into the design. Also, to go further and through the insurance industry and financial instruments that fund buildings make regular Inspection schemes, part of the conditions.

All these areas are not new to us but we do seem to have the habit of dropping the batten. It needs a war of attrition so that all of us every day call for the action and keep the pressure up on our law makers to improve the health of our Industry. Only this new, collaborative approach will really help keep our people housed and safe, using what is and has always been the world’s best and truly renewable building material: timber.

 

[News URL: http://cti-timber.org/content/cti-blog-engaging-politicians-both-nationally-and-locally]

CTI releases its Winter 2017-18 Newsletter

The Confederation of Timber Industries (CTI) has released its Newsletter for Winter 2017-18.

This interactive e-news collection - downloadable here - features some of the most recent activities and initiatives undertaken by the CTI along with news from the entire UK Timber Supply Chain.

In this edition we have focused on four key-themes (Politics, Skills & Education, Housing and Sustainability) giving voice to four different Timber Industry leaders. 

You will also find articles on:

- Relaunch of the All Party Parliamentary Group for Timber Industries

- DEFRA recognises benefits of building homes with timber

- CTI urges Government to restore confidence in the market and boost investments

- Upcoming major Construction and Architecture events 

.... and much more!

 

[News URL: http://cti-timber.org/content/cti-releases-its-winter-2017-18-newsletter]

CTI Newsletter Winter 2017-18

CTI Newsletter Winter 2017-18

In this issue:

- Interviews with four Timber Industry leaders about Politics, Skills & Education, Housing and Sustainability

- Relaunch of the All Party Parliamentary Group for Timber Industries

- DEFRA recognises benefits of building homes with timber

- CTI urges Government to restore confidence in the market and boost investments

- Upcoming major Construction and Architecture events 

DOWNLOAD FILE

Staircraft makes Sunday Times Virgin Fast Track 100 League

Staircraft has achieved number 51 in the 2017 Sunday Times Virgin Fast Track 100 league, an index which ranks Britain’s fastest growing private companies.

Staircraft's Managing Director Andy Hamilton founded the Nuneaton-based company in 1985 using innovation through design and manufacturing to reach today’s position of Europe’s largest staircase manufacturer, supplying 1000+ new-build homes every week.

The proposition has grown significantly, now offering ‘fully integrated solutions’ in the design and manufacture of staircase, i-joists, floor-kits, MDF painted profiles/mouldings, with door-kits on the horizon.  The extended range also positions Staircraft as Europe’s only i-joist and floor-kit manufacturer.

In 2017 Staircraft added 5 manufacturing facilities, ending the year with 8 facilities with more planned in 2018. 3 units were opened in Hinckley supporting the main stair factories and providing capacity for future product areas.

Andy Hamilton, Staircraft Founder & Managing Director commented: “Nothing much has changed since i-Joists were invented 48 years ago, until now!  Our investment in a high technology, bespoke production line, enables us to take i-joist performance to a new level. Our new capability will enable us to significantly increase performance by eliminating web joints, the weakest area, greatly improving the web/flange connection strength. These innovations will future proof our offering to the market”.    

“Of course our success would not have been possible without the support of our customers and suppliers who we recognise as our extended team, helping us achieve greater market share.  Lastly, and most importantly, I want to place on record my sincere gratitude to each and every member of the 300-strong Staircraft team. Their hard-work, flexibility and dedication through a significant period of improvement and change has been truly admirable."

 

[News URL: http://cti-timber.org/content/staircraft-makes-sunday-times-virgin-fast-track-100-league]

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