The Timber Industry College Hubs are part of the IOC’s Mentoring Champions scheme, supported by CITB. These hubs showcase the array of employment opportunities through presentations by specialist speakers, providing students with insights into the massive potential their qualifications and training can give them.

Head of School for Construction at NCD, Ashley Deane gave an exceptional welcome, congratulating the 60+ joinery students and apprentices on putting their career first. IOC president Geoff Rhodes outlined the agenda, which featured a construction employment overview by Sharon Bew from CITB, highlighting various opportunities within the industry; Megan Bradford from MEDITE SMARTPLY, Nick Boulton for TDUK and the Trussed Rafter Association, and the American Hardwood Export Council (AHEC) providing insight into forest resources, processing and opportunities.

Practical tips and career paths were colourfully described by both Geoff Jackson of Langley Furniture Works in Hexham, Northumberland and Stephen Flynn, managing director of RoseBirch Fit Out Solutions, member of IOC collaborating partner, the National Association of Shopfitting (NAS). Geoff “The Joiner” Jackson encouraged the audience with some fundamental advice: be respectful, be brave and ask questions, be keen, and be on time, preferably with a sharp pencil, rubber and tape measure! Stephen Flynn brought some fresh energy to the room with his realistic reflection of effort and dedication needed as well as the opportunities and rewards there for those who earn them.

Florence Salberter from Historic England closed the session with a glimpse into the importance and scale of heritage work, from the re-fit of a nation’s ageing housing stock to the restoration of the many and varied ancient buildings across the UK.

The overwhelming success of the IOC’s Timber Industry College Hubs reflects a shared commitment to fostering collaboration between industry and education. With the support of CITB, the initiative continues to pave the way, attract and retain a thriving and skilled workforce in the construction industry, providing a bridge for enthusiastic carpentry and joinery trainees to embark on promising career paths.

The next IOC Timber Industry College Hub will be held at Leeds College of Building on September 26, with more to follow across the UK.