The Institute of Carpenters (IOC) and Timber Development UK (TDUK) partnership for the IOC’s ‘Timber Industry College Hubs’ initiative is well under way across the country. This innovative programme establishes connections between timber supply chain businesses, colleges, tutors, and woodworking learners and apprentices in various regions.

The primary objective is to spotlight the numerous employment opportunities within the UK and international timber supply chain. The emphasis is on career paths in carpentry, bench joinery and where it can take these new craftspeople, from careers in production management, shop¬tting, timber merchants, to historic restoration, timber frame design and manufacture.

The Timber Industry College Hubs are integral to the IOC’s Mentoring Champions scheme, offering a platform for timber supply chain businesses and the construction industry to connect with colleges, tutors, and students.

These hubs showcase employment opportunities through presentations by specialist speakers, providing students with insights into how their quali¬cations and training can be applied in real-world scenarios.

The success of the ¬rst two Timber Industry College Hubs delivered at Lincoln College in June 2023 and at Building Crafts College (BCC) in London, in November 2023, demonstrated the initiative’s impact.

Now moving to South Wales and Neath Port Talbot College (NPTC), head of construction Annie Davies welcomed students and guests during the February event. Geoff Rhodes outlined the IOC agenda to a room packed with over 70 carpentry and bench joinery students and tutors, with the American Hardwood Export Council (AHEC), the Construction Industry Training Board (CITB), NPTC careers advisers, Historic Wales – CADW and Axminster Tools supporting the initiative with displays.

The event featured informative sessions, including a construction employment regional overview by Ross Baker and Peter Carey from CITB, highlighting various opportunities within the industry. Diverse career paths were explored; Richard Hawkins from So Modular, an offsite construction specialist, offering the potential for career advancement within the industry, and a National Association of Shop¬tters (NAS) presentation gave a glimpse into the work of the shop¬tting sector.

Nick Boulton from TDUK and the Truss Rafter Association, Roly Ward from MEDITE SMARTPLY, Neil Summers from AHEC and Steph Evans from CADW shared valuable insights into timber supply chains, certi¬cation, the importance of risk assessment in international timber sourcing, and the signi¬cance of woodcraft in restoring historic buildings in Wales.

The ¬nal speaker was Wayne Probart, sales development director at Ante-Holz UK Ltd. As a former bench joinery student at NPTC more than 30 years ago, he gave a passionate insight into the career opportunities for the students that are available to be explored.

The next sequence of IOC Timber Industry College Hubs will be held at West Suffolk College in Bury St Edmunds on March 18, followed by Inverness College, Scotland on April 23 and New College Durham on May 21 with more to follow across the UK in 2024/2025.