Wood and Timber Industry (Wales)

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Framework details

Framework ID: FR02803
Issue number: 4
Issued: 30 July 2014

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Wood and Timber Industry (Wales)
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Contact name: Lisa Williamson
Telephone number: 01235 432030
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The Wood industry is of significant importance to the UK economy, particularly in the supply of end products for residential and commercial living and work places. The industry has an annual turnover well in excess of £7.3 billion.

The Wood and Timber industries are traditionally segmented into the following:

  • Sawmilling and planning of wood, impregnation of wood
  • Manufacture of veneer sheets; manufacture of plywood, laminboard, particle board, fibre board and other panels and boards
  • Manufacture of builders carpentry and joinery
  • Manufacture of wooden containers
  • Manufacture of other products of wood
  • Manufacture of articles of cork, straw and plaiting materials
  • Wholesale of wood, construction materials and sanitary equipment.

Proskills identifies that the total size of the Wood sector in the UK is currently around 75,000 people in 7,500 companies. Approximately 85% of the industry is made up of micro companies operating with less than 10 employees. Around 98% of the industry employ fewer than 50 people.

The production of wood products has traditionally involved skilled crafts and, although becoming increasingly automated, the industry still classes more than a quarter (26%) of its workforce as being employed in “skilled trades”. Plant/Process Machine Operatives and Managers are the next largest occupational groups, each accounting for around 21% of the total industry workforce.

Recent Labour Force Survey data shows that 94% of the wood industry workforce is full time and 86% are male. Skill gaps within the existing workforce are reported by around 16% of companies and are having an adverse impact on business.  The gaps are most highly concentrated in skilled trades, process operatives and elementary occupations – the frontline and technical roles.

Over half of employers with skills gaps say that these gaps have a negative impact on their businesses, mainly in increased workloads for other staff.  These lead to inefficient working practices (54%), increased operating costs (41%) and difficulties meeting quality standards (15%).  The most common response to dealing with skill gaps is training - of companies in the Wood industry who reported having skill gaps, 58% are increasing training activity to overcome the problem.  Around a fifth of companies in the sector (20%) recognise that the need to increase workforce skills will be a key issue over the coming three years.

Successful companies in the Wood industry rely heavily on the skills within their workforce to meet the highest of quality standards. It is vital to ensure the presence of appropriate training for the Wood industry to help them prepare their employees for the future and to maintain and improve their productivity, competitiveness and sustainability - only by doing this can the required high standards be achieved and maintained.

The industry also needs to improve efficiencies by tightening up processes to tackle the issue of rising energy costs and the need for more energy efficient machinery and processes. Legislative compliance and Health & Safety and Environmental Management also presents challenges and place legal responsibilities upon the industry.  Global competition has had an impact on Wood manufacturing companies in the UK and the need for raising skill levels across the whole sector will be necessary to maintain and improve productivity and competitiveness. Low carbon and sustainability will also continue to be key drivers in terms of process and product improvement, renewable and recyclable materials and end-of-life procedures.

The Wood industry is currently not attracting, in sufficient numbers, applicants from females, black and minority ethnic groups or those with a difficulty or disability. The Wood industry recognises that it is not making the most of the pool of talent that is available – this is untapped talent which could help to meet their skills gaps and shortages, thereby contributing to increased productivity and competitiveness. The industry employs a relatively high proportion of young people but needs formal qualifications and frameworks to ensure they get the training they need.

The Level 2 Foundation Apprenticeship has been designed to help fill skills gaps and shortages, and to attract younger people into the industry and provide them with the skills, knowledge and experience which employers are seeking to recruit and retain. In addition, the framework provides a progression route which will help to upskill the existing workforce to meet future economical, environmental and technological changes within the Wood industry.

This Apprenticeship framework provides a suitable structure that will ensure that training and assessment is carried out systematically and meets with the requirements of both the employer and the Apprentice. It may also, where appropriate, provide positive progression from an Foundation Level 2 Apprenticeship to an Level 3 Apprenticeship or to higher-level work within the industry.

The component parts of this framework will help meet the current and future needs of the industry: essentially a sound understanding of the complexities of all the manufacturing processes including the relevant knowledge that is fundamental to the wood industry. This is underpinned by the appropriate skills, competencies and principles in the framework that industry need. Apprenticeships in the Wood and Timber Industry provide and nurture an environment in which individuals are able to develop a host of skills and personal attributes – all of which will contribute to the success of the industry and to the wider UK economy.

This Apprenticeship framework can help offer solutions to the current and future economical, environmental and technological challenges highlighted above and will help to create stability in the demography of the industry. Apprenticeships will help fill the current skills gaps and shortages and provide a sound preparation to help fill more senior positions in the near future.

The proposed framework offers not just young people, but also older workers the opportunity to upskill and undertake continual professional development as they progress in their careers. Training alone will not deliver the learning required by the current workforce and timely succession planning, for workforce development and replacement, is necessary. Apprenticeships will form a vital component of any succession planning action plan. The following shows job roles that are relevant to the industry where the proposed apprenticeship framework can add value to any employer.

Process, plant and machine operatives
Assemblers and routine operatives, Plant and machine operatives, Production/productivity, Job specific, , Process operatives, Technical, Non job-specific, , Supervisory, Customer service, Mobile machine drivers and operatives

Skilled trades
Production related, Job specific, Supervisory, Speed of work/meeting deadlines, Technical, Engineering, Motivation, Quality and customer care, Sales

The training and assessment described by this Apprenticeship framework are acknowledged as a mechanism to help provide a workforce that is able to take forward innovation and change and to help industries to drive business performance improvements to increase national and global competitiveness.

For more information about the Wood Industry, please visit www.proskills-academy.co.uk/wood/. This website shows information on careers available, new emerging jobs, transferability of skills career paths and opportunities for progression. There is information on pay scales, how to enter the industry and what qualifications are available.

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Wood and Timber Industry (Wales)
(PDF document 5.06 MB)