Two initiatives have been launched to improve training and education in the timber and forest products sectors.

On January 23 the first meeting took place of the UK Wood Chain Group (UKWCG) which brings together the main timber and related industry trade bodies to assess the current provision of training, how it can be improved and better funded.

The organisations involved are the Institute of Wood Science, Timber Trade Federation, UK Forest Products Association, the British Woodworking Federation, Timber Decking Association, Wood Panel Industries Federation, TreeLine UK and the Mid & North Wales Training Group.

At the first meeting, the organisations agreed to “map” current training practices and needs in their sectors and identify best examples of best practice. They will also evaluate whether funds or other support can be accessed from government skills councils.

“We have to take action if we are going promote our industry as one with an attractive career path to potential trainees,” said IWSc director Jim Lumsden.

Following the launch of this group, the TTF also convened its new education, training and careers committee. This drew together representatives of individual companies, the Forest Education Initiative, wood. for good, the IWSc and education establishments, including Bucks, and Imperial Colleges and the University of Wales. Its members will also evaluate training available in the trade and how it can be improved through greater collaboration, new funding and improved communication.

“There are many valuable initiatives under way, but they are fragmented,” said TTF president Geoff Rhodes. “We want to establish a conduit that brings all the strands together.”

He added that theTTF committee will liaise closely with the UKWCG.