In order to save joinery apprenticeships, the British Woodworking Federation (BWF) in the UK has taken its fight to the House of Commons’ Sub-Committee on Education, Skills and the Economy.
Speaking alongside the Confederation of British Industry, the Trades Union Congress and the Local Government Association, BWF chief executive Iain McIlwee gave evidence as part of the committee’s inquiry into apprenticeships.
He highlighted the benefits that woodworking apprenticeships were bringing and the high level of take up within the industry, but questioned new funding arrangements.
The inquiry gave BWF an opportunity to air the sector’s views on areas such as trailblazer apprenticeships, new industry-led standards and government proposals that could discourage joinery companies from taking on apprentices.
Mr McIlwee raised concerns that commercial pressures on colleges were leading to short-termism.
“If we’re forcing colleges to behave like businesses, we’re forcing them to think in shorter periods of time, fundamentally upsetting the relationship we have,” he said.
“How does it cover the capital investment of the equipment required? How does it fund woodworking as a course when you’re looking at the cost between a work bench and a workstation?”
“We’ve seen the erosion of woodworking in schools, and now we’re starting to see the same in colleges.”
Source: Timber Trades Journal