I’m excited and I want to tell you about it, but I wonder if you’ll believe me. What’s more, when you hear what it’s about you may wonder why I got excited in the first place. Then again what’s even more exciting is that it’s actually three things, not one – oh for goodness sake, let’s get on with it!

Last year, a meeting was arranged in Scotland, where heads of the leading timber organisations began to think about ways for this industry to work together to all of our benefit – it was called the Norton House meeting. This initial spark led to another gathering last week in Newcastle where the focus was education and training.

A framework was proposed whereby all training across the timber industry would be National Occupation Standard (NOS)-approved. This could ultimately mean that anyone doing a course in the sector would get a qualification of a ‘currency’ recognised by government. That gives us three significant benefits.

Firstly, because all training would be NOS-approved, it will eligible for government funds – at the meeting we were told this could amount to millions of pounds.

Secondly, by 2010 when the next Public Sector Borrowing Requirement review takes place, if our sector has not got an approved training plan in place, the government will impose payroll levies and other methods of raising cash to pay for training which it will prescribe. The latest timber sector proposal resolves that issue.

Thirdly, the cross-industry discussions show that we can work together. There’s a real buzz in the air and it’s a fantastic opportunity for employees across the sector to gain qualifications with huge added value.

Who knows, from here we may recognise that we need to act in unison on other important pan-industry matters.

The national papers are awash with stories of McDonalds and their A level management course, giving young people a great opportunity to learn and receive a decent qualification. While some might snigger, it seems to me that this is what we need in our industry, where training is not always recognised and often poorly served.

So, isn’t this latest initiative exciting?