One thing you learn from education, it was once said, is how little you know. I don’t know who said it, but I suppose that proves the point. The truth of the statement was also brought home to me at a special training exercise put on by Finnforest for journalists at its Timber Academy in Boston.

The event was actually held a while back now, so I could have mentioned it before, but the scar was still too raw. One element of the course was a grading exam, held in the bare undercroft below Finnforest’s all-timber Academy building. The location for the test was probably chosen to focus the mind. In my case, it failed to work, or the mind was beyond focusing, as – and I won’t go into the gory detail – I didn’t do spectacularly well. Making the memory still more painful is the fact that my colleague Sally got the class prize, a Finnforest key ring which she now only has to rattle for me to get that queasy flunked-exam feeling.

But, while it had its painful moments, the course was a very valuable exercise, underlining both the depth of knowledge required to succeed in what Finnforest describes as its ‘Introduction to Timber’ and what modern timber training is all about. Finnforest is among the leaders in this field, with customers sending students on its courses all year round. But there is a growing number of other companies putting increasing time and resources into training for their own

personnel and the wider and increasingly knowledge-hungry timber market place. Evidence of this is the healthy crop of high calibre entries we’ve had for this year’s TTJ Career Development Award, which is sponsored by another timber training front runner SCA. I know some companies are still reluctant to put forward their personnel for the Award for fear they’ll be poached. But that attitude seems to be changing, proof perhaps that overall timber training provision is on the increase and that more people accept the view, borne out by a CBI survey, that training actually increases staff loyalty.

Meanwhile, I’m heading back to my Timber Academy workbook. Next time, the key ring is mine!