Finding woodworkers with job-winning skills seems to be the challenge of the day. It's impeding cabinet makers and custom wood shops of all types from growing as quickly as they could during the recovery.

I'm bringing this up once again because I've had it delivered to my inbox multiple times in the last few days. Chip Yawney at A Cut Above Woodworks noted that he had a devil of a time keeping a good finisher on staff.

Then Bernie Bottens struck a chord with his blog about the travails of Joe, a VP at Custom Source Woodworking in Olympia, WA. Since his 24,000 square foot shop opened five years ago, Joe figures that he’s fired about 280 cabinetmakers - for a 2.5% retention rate. (Since he started started hiring his local WoodLINKS program school and hires their best grads - and has

So Dean went to work and by the school year’s end, he had ten kids for Joe. They started working last summer. Five remain. Joe hopes those five never leave and Joe is looking for more. Now, let’s not forget. We’re up from 2.5% to 50% retention!

And the latest case is the story of Tischlerei-Fine Woodworking. Owner Olaf Gerhardt had to move the company 90 miles, not to capture business, but to retain employees in a more livable area.

Our recommendation is to get involved with WoodLINKS. The program is centered around a proactive approach to partnering local educational systems with furniture factories, woodshops and cabinetmakers in the surrounding area.

By getting involved directly with your local school, you can help steer educators to maintaining or even expanding woodworking instruction. And by getting the school involved in WoodLINKS, you help it link up to other similar schools around the country, and to receive valuable support and suppliers through  WoodLINKS USA.

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