Woodshops see business picking up, with companies serving new home construction experiencing a nice bump in projects.

Looking for help hadn’t been a priority for most businesses until last quarter, when requests for bids and orders started arriving. We’ve received a steady flow of inquiries from readers about finding employees. Woodworking schools tell us their grads are spoken for long before classes end. Custom millwork firm Dovetail Gallery even posted a press release seeking cabinetmakers as its business blossoms in 2013.

The wood industry worker supply chain is tightly linked. Woodworkers in furniture and cabinet factories often move to custom woodshops or remodelers, and back. If furniture maker Lee Industries’ Hickory, NC, plant says it would hire more workers, but can’t find them, it’s relevant to us all.

Likewise, the fact the construction industry added 48,000 jobs last month as housing permits rose 38 percent. Home completions, with all that flooring and cabinetry, are held back by labor shortages, say builders.

I propose we work together to address labor supply and education, supporting the Woodwork Career Alliance, which certifies woodworking skill competencies. WCA now has an expanded role in education and training since taking on responsibilities for WoodLINKS USA, the wood industry education advocates. You’ll be hearing more about this. But let’s plan now to work together to develop the next generation of woodworkers that businesses already need.

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