Woodwork Career Alliance reports record membership
February 21, 2022 | 12:22 pm CST
Columbia Early Prep College High School woodworking program

Columbia High School students show off their WCA Sawblade certificates.

NELLYSFORD, Va. -- The Woodwork Career Alliance of North America looks to build on the numerous accomplishments it achieved in 2021 despite the protracted COVID-19 pandemic.

The WCA entered the New Year coming off a year in which it enrolled 686 new candidates in its Passport Credentialing program. In addition, the WCA added 55 new schools as EDUcation members while retaining an additional 96 schools, bringing the number of high school and postsecondary woodworking programs belonging to the WCA to a record 151. The WCA also saw progress on the industry front in signing up seven new companies as MANufacturing™ members while retaining 15 others.

“2021 was an extraordinary year for the woodworking industry, our EDUcation members, and for us,” said Scott Nelson, president of the WCA. “We really weren’t sure what to expect and did our best to maintain a steady course against the strong headwinds of COVID. The fact that we managed to end the year with more EDUcation and MANufacturing members than we started with is a hopeful sign for the WCA and the industry that we serve.”

In addition to growing membership, some of the other 2021 achievements worth celebrating include:

Woodwork Career Alliance EDU Core credential

The WCA created two new credentials for students enrolled in EDUcation woodworking programs. The EDU Core and EDU Green credentials provide more serious-minded woodworking students with new opportunities to be recognized for expanding their skills and being better prepared to enter the woodworking workforce.

The WCA formally rolled out its online accredited skill evaluator (ASE) training program. This game-changing program allows educators throughout the United States and Canada to complete their ASE training at their own pace without having to travel, saving them time and money. The end result is that more woodworking instructors will be able to become ASEs to evaluate the skills of their students using the WCA Skill Standards, which have been vetted by the woodworking industry.

The Sixth Edition of Modern Cabinetmaking, the standard-bearer textbook for cabinetmaking and woodworking courses, was released at the end of 2021. It was authored by Patrick Molzahn, director of the Cabinetmaking and Millwork program at Madison College, and a founding member of the WCA Board of Directors. The content and lab workbook correlates to the WCA’s industry credentialing standard, which is why the WCA’s logo is prominently displayed on the book’s cover.

Woodworking Network and Woodwork Career Alliance Workforce Study

The WCA joined forces with Woodworking Network to conduct a benchmark study of the U.S. and Canadian woodworking workforce. The study revealed that the production worker shortage continues to increase at an alarming rate with no clear end in sight. In addition, the study found that only one-fifth of the respondents have a written in-house training program incorporating standard operating procedures. We believe the study’s results further validate the WCA’s mission to develop and grow a skilled woodworking workforce. We continue to encourage all of the industry to not only support our efforts, but also those of their local school woodworking programs, to spotlight career opportunities in the industry.

Speaking of spotlighting career pathways, the WCA partnered with the Association of Woodworking & Furnishings Suppliers and the Architectural Woodwork Institute to produce a six-minute video. The video, produced by “in Depth with Laurence Fishburne,” and filmed at Hollywood Woodwork, has aired on public television stations nationwide to create awareness of career opportunities in the wood products industry.

Learn more about the WCA, skill standards, credentialing program, membership categories, and sponsorship opportunities at woodworkcareer.org.
About the Woodwork Career Alliance
The Woodwork Career Alliance of North America was founded in 2007 as a 501(c)(3) non-profit corporation and is governed by a volunteer board of directors. The WCA’s mission is to develop and administer a unified set of Skill Standards for the wood products industry. Since 2011, WCA has developed observable and measurable performance standards and assessments for more than 300 woodworking machine operations. In addition, WCA has issued over 4,000 Passport credentials, a portable, personal permanent record documenting each holder’s record of woodworking skill achievements. More than 150 high schools and post-secondary schools throughout North America are WCA EDUcation™ members and a growing number of woodworking companies have joined the WCA as MANufacturing™ members. To learn more about the WCA and how to get involved with its programs, including sponsorship opportunities, visit WoodworkCareer.org.

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About the author
Rich Christianson | President/Owner/C-Level

Rich Christianson is the owner of Richson Media LLC, a Chicago-based communications firm focused on the industrial woodworking sector. Rich is the former long-time editorial director and associate publisher of Woodworking Network. During his nearly 35-year career, Rich has toured more than 250 woodworking operations throughout North America, Europe and Asia and has written extensively on woodworking technology, design and supply trends. He has also directed and promoted dozens of woodworking trade shows, conferences and seminars including the Cabinets & Closets Conference & Expo and the Woodworking Machinery & Supply Conference & Expo, Canada’s largest woodworking show.