MONTPELIER, VT – Eight Vermont teachers have earned a certification to award industry-recognized credentials to their students in woodworking and building trade programs. The secondary and post-secondary school teachers participated in a day-long training to gain accreditation for their programs to use the Woodwork Manufacturing Skill Standards as a formal evaluation tool in their classrooms.
“Vermont has a strong secondary wood manufacturing sector filled with talented furniture making, cabinetry and custom millwork businesses,” said David Bazis, a teacher at U32 High School in Montpelier and 15-year veteran woodworking instructor who hosted the event at the school’s design and technology lab. However, Bazis says the industry struggles to find younger people interested in pursuing work in the sector.
Teachers participated from Burlington High School, Canaan Memorial HS, Lamoille North Supervisory Union in Hyde Park, St. Johnsbury Academy, U32 High School in Montpelier, Vermont Woodworking School in Fairfax, and Yestermorrow Design/Build School in Waitsfield.
The Northern Forest Center is partnering with the Woodwork Career Alliance of North America (WCA), which developed the Woodwork Manufacturing Skill Standards, to deliver the program to businesses and educational institutions across Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont. The Vermont Wood Manufacturers Association (VWMA) is collaborating with the Center and other organizations to deliver the program in Vermont. WCA offers the program across the U.S. and in Canada.
Schools and businesses that participate in the skills program will train students and employees to meet standards that WCA has set for over 50 different woodworking machines and tools. Once a candidate successfully passes an evaluation, he or she receives a “tool stamp” to indicate proficiency with the tool.
“Participating students and industry employees collect the tool stamps in a Woodwork Passport—a portable, permanent record of their achievements that will help them gain employment in the sector and grow professionally over time,” said Collin Miller, director of wood products initiatives for the Northern Forest Center. Accredited Skill Evaluators award tool stamps as participants demonstrate competency at beginner, intermediate and advanced levels for each tool. All eight Vermont teachers are now qualified to evaluate students and award tool stamps.
“What this system provides us is a template with which we can teach skills and know that they are valued by the industry,” says Bazis. “Hopefully, we’ll be making some better connections with the job creators in our region’s woodworking sector and getting some students fired up about advanced woodworking as a potential career option.”
A grant from the Canaday Family Foundation covered the cost of certifying the teachers as Accredited Skill Evaluators and will, for a limited time, cover the participation costs for Vermont students who enroll in the passport program at their schools.
Burlington High School, Canaan Memorial HS, Lamoille North Supervisory Union in Hyde Park, St. Johnsbury Academy, U32 High School in Montpelier, Vermont Woodworking School in Fairfax, and Yestermorrow Design/Build School in Waitsfield are now WCA Accredited Training Facilities.
The state of Vermont recently approved the WCA system as a third-party, industry-recognized certification program. Miller said there are more than 50 skill evaluators in the U.S. and Canada and that this is the first major initiative to implement the program in the northern New England states.
Source: Northern Forest Center
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