Do you know about WoodLINKS USA? I hope that you do. If you don’t, let me introduce you.
My buddy Dave is the Regional Director for WoodLINKS in the Pacific Northwest. He and I go way back. In fact, we go back farther than we even knew at the beginning. We came to find out that before we met face to face, we walked the same college campus during the same years.
Now, 30 years later, Dave and I have both left public school teaching. But you can take the teacher out of the class but you can’t take the class out of the teacher! In Dave’s case, he now works to promote WoodLINKS. And because he’s “retired,” I get to see quite a bit of Dave including at WoodLINKS events on the regional and national levels. He’s been to the AWFS Fair and IWF a number of times. Both events support and involve WoodLINKS.
WoodLINKS promotes cooperation on many levels between industry and education. That being said, the group focuses specifically on connections between junior and senior high school woodshop teachers and industry.
Why WoodLINKS Matters
Why??? Well, Mr. or Ms. woodworking business owner, where are you finding the qualified workers that you need to man your shop and do the level of work that you expect? Good cabinetmakers don’t just fall off of any old turnip truck that rolls through town. Those of you involved in hiring know exactly what I mean.
There has to be a really special turnip truck out there somewhere. And I’ll bet you anything that if you find it, the guy driving that truck is going to be the local woodshop teacher.
But school programs such as this are becoming a rare commodity in these days of tight school budgets and years of reduction in force needed to protect the “core curriculum” while balancing an ever-shrinking budget. I know all about that. You see, Dave and I met back in the '70s when things were quite different. I was the choir director and Dave was the new woodshop teacher. I loved woodworking and he loved singing. It was a match made in heaven. He’d help me with rehearsals during his prep period; I’d help him with whatever I could. We’re still helping each other all that we can today. Here I am, writing an article about another one of Dave’s passions. But the choral program and the woodshop program just aren’t the same today as they were then…trust me. That’s true.
Again, you, the shop owner, need to know about WoodLINKS. You have a need for workers trained in the art form known as cabinetmaking. You need both talented and trained employees. Likewise, the teacher in your town needs to know that there are well paying careers out there for kids who become trained in…shall I say…Industrial Arts?