Wadkin will host the event on March 29 at its headquarters in Leicestershire, a traditional stronghold of wood products manufacturing, where the Learning Company scheme will be rolled out to the industry. Qualifications from apprenticeships to higher degrees will be available.

UK Woodchain, the sector body, is leading the initiative, supported by all of the 20 major trade and professional bodies. “Despite the absence of occupational standards and qualifications, the sector has established its ability to compete in difficult markets,” said chairman Peter Harland.

“Market conditions will not get any easier, however, so it is essential to develop our people and the level of support we can provide jointly.”

As well as unveiling the sector’s first occupational standards and launching the learning scheme, the group will also announced the first business to be accredited for its e-learning materials.

“More will follow during the year, creating the basis for the whole sector to be equipped with qualified staff by the end of 2010,” said Mr Harland.