College feeling chipper after industry boost for carpenters

1 April 2021

A college has teamed up with an industry big hitter to help support students prepare for a fine finish when it comes to getting a career in carpentry and joinery.

West Suffolk College agreed a partnership with the Institute of Carpenters (IoC) 18 months ago.

The deal has seen all level two and level three learners get free membership into an organisation that calls itself “the home for professionals working in the wood trade”.

This year, 89 students have taken advantage of the offer that gives ongoing support and careers advice.

IoC president, Geoff Rhodes, recently hosted an online session with the college, to welcome the new members to an organisation that was first set up in 1890.

“Our organisation is all about encouraging next generations, raising standards within the industry and offering support to our members throughout their careers,” said Mr Rhodes. “Therefore, we are delighted to be working with West Suffolk College who share these values.”

“In addition to the free membership for our students, we also get to speak regularly with colleges in other parts of the UK to share knowledge and we are also looking to work with the IOC by promoting carpentry as a career to primary schools,” said college lecturer, Brian Tunbridge.

“The industry is definitely in need of more recruits and is going through a positive surge at the moment – so having prestigious links with the IOC will hopefully encourage more people to consider carpentry, joinery and woodworking careers.”

“We are delighted to be working collaboratively with the IOC representatives (Geoff Rhodes and Alan Creasey) who gave students a valuable insight into their own personal experiences of working in their trades and some useful tips,” said Debbie Coombes, executive director at West Suffolk College.

“Both Geoff and Alan are inspirational role models and highly regarded in their respective areas and West Suffolk College would like to say a huge thank you to them for their support.”

“The IOC supports many businesses develop, and also helps members get to where they want to go,” said carpentry student, Tristan Cork. “I’m grateful for their support.”

West Suffolk College currently has around 200 students studying on wood trade programmes.

Last year, former West Suffolk College student, Alex Howe was chosen to represent the country in a competition called WorldSkills – a global event that sees students from different countries take part in a skills contests against other nations.

Unfortunately, he was unable to take part in the competition because of lockdown. However, he is helping current students from West Suffolk College prepare for the 2021 event.

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Geoff Rhodes
Brian Tunbridge
Tristan Cork