Woodwork Career Alliance reports record participation

Students at more than 140 high schools and postsecondary schools in the U.S. and Canada are able to use the WCA skill standards to enhance their woodworking programs.

LINCOLN, Neb. – The Woodwork Career Alliance of North America (WCA) continues to increase industry awareness and participation, while also developing new programs to help train the next generation of woodworkers. 

WCA issued a record-shattering 1,358 credentials in 2023, nearly 40% more than the number it awarded in 2022 (980) and double the 2021 total (686). The vast majority of the credentials were Sawblade and Core issued to high school and postsecondary woodworking students. A small, but growing number of Green, Blue and other credentialing levels were issued to woodworking professionals.

To earn a credential, the candidate must successfully be evaluated and tested on a variety of woodworking skills. The Sawblade Certificate, for example, covers layout and measurement, plus set-up and operation of a jointer, table saw, portable hand sander and drill press.

Woodwork Career Alliance Passport

The skill achievements and credentials are recorded in the individual’s Passport. WCA registered 1,391 Passports in 2023, down slightly from 2022 (1,423) but more than double that of 2021 (686). To date, the WCA has enrolled more than 6,000 Passport holders, nearly half of them in the last two years.

“The record number of WCA credentials in 2023 isn’t just a statistic; it’s a seismic shift in our industry,” said Scott Nelson, president of the WCA. “Each credential signifies not just technical achievement, but a dedication to quality and safety. For employers, it’s the golden ticket to a reliable workforce. For individuals, it’s a passport to career advancement, increased wages, and a sense of pride in their craftsmanship. This milestone isn’t just about numbers; it’s about building a brighter future for woodworking, one credential at a time.”

2023 also saw the WCA record modest gains in the number of participating woodworking educators, wood products manufacturers, and sponsors.

“We now have more than 140 EDUcation members and more than three dozen MANufacturing members,” Nelson said. “In addition, we ended 2023 with 28 Gold and 22 Silver sponsors. Twenty-eight of those sponsors have helped fund WCA programs for the last three years or more.”

More 2023-24 highlights
WCA concluded 2023 by initiating the development of online training modules that wood products companies will be able to use to supplement their in-house training programs. The online training courses, to debut early this year, are part of the WCA’s new emphasis to grow its MANufacturing membership base by offering new benefits to wood products manufacturers.

The WCA entered into a partnership with the National Woods Board (NWB), a new non-profit organization is developing a scalable curriculum to teach students woodworking skills that will make them workforce ready. The NWB’s education programs that incorporates the WCA Skill Standards and Passport credentialing system to teach students woodworking skills that will make them workforce ready.

SkillsUSA 2023 Cabinetmaking Compoetition
WCA will continue its partnership with SkillsUSA this year, including state and national cabinetmaking competitions.

Representatives of the WCA presented a well-attended half-day workforce development workshop at the AWFS Fair focused on helping woodworking companies establish or enhance in-house training programs. The WCA will conduct a similar workshop at the International Woodworking Fair this August.

WCA continued its involvement with the SkillsUSA Cabinetmaking competition on both national and state levels. The annual contest brings state SkillsUSA student champs from around the country together for the ultimate showdown.

WCA celebrated the awarding of its second Diamond credential ever to Lizzy Conley, new director of Madison College’s Cabinetmaking & Millwork program.

Finally, WCA continued to expand its industry out-reach through news releases and the quarterly Pathways newsletter. A new-look Pathways will debut in February.

The WCA’s new programs and industry promotions are made possible by its sponsors. They include:

Gold Sponsors
AWI QCP • Blum • Brown Wood Products • Cantek • Daniels-Olsen • Diamond Vogel • Eagle Woodworking • Franklin Intl • Friulmac USA • KCD Software • Kerfkore • Newman Machine • NBMDA • PantoRouter • Rev-A-Shelf • Richelieu • Roseburg • SawStop • SCM Group USA • Shaper Tools • ShopBot Tools • Smartech • Stiles Machinery • Thermwood • Titebond •Wood-Ed Table by Mimbis • Woodworking Network • Wurth Group

Silver Sponsors
Aiken Controls • Air Handling Systems • Black Bros. • Brookhuis America •
C.R. Onsrud • Castle USA • Colonial Saw • Daubert Chemical • Deerwood Fasteners • Dynabrade • Eagle Mouldings • GDP Guhdo • Gemini-Coatings • Hafele America • IMA-Schelling • Leitz Tooling • Lockdowel • Microvellum Software • PaintLine • Sorrelli Woodwork Consultants • Super Thin Saws • Weima America

Learn more about WCA membership and sponsorship opportunities.


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