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Industry support springs from all directions

As shop owners throughout the country struggle with finding skilled labor, it’s refreshing to know there’s an abundance of support through various facets of the industry, from automating to educating.

For starters, this month’s International Woodworking Fair will present a plethora of solutions to combat the labor problem, as well as address other issues shop owners face. Automated machinery will be as prevalent as ever, with some of the latest CNC and robotic machines on display. And, of the dozens of educational programs offered, there will be a heavy focus on how attendees can implement and benefit from such technology in their shops, particularly when help is hard to find.

Organizations such as the Woodwork Career Alliance, with its growing credentialling program for emerging woodworkers, is one of several exhibitors actively raising awareness about lucrative opportunities in the field through initiatives and programs that can help motivate younger generations to consider a woodworking career.

Less often discussed are the numerous philanthropic offerings from institutions and organizations for career-related programs through grants, scholarships, and fellowships, but they nevertheless serve to help increase interest and participation and should be duly acknowledged.

The Woodworking Machinery Industry Association awards scholarships to college students annually through its Educational Foundation, and to date has awarded over $500,000 to 260 students pursuing related coursework. In this issue, we cover recent scholarships awarded at the Krenov School of Fine Woodworking and fellowships given at the Center for Art in Wood.

This spring, The Furniture Society awarded educational grants to several of its members to promote excellence in the furniture field through professional development or special projects of an educational nature. In July, the American Home Furnishings Alliance awarded 12 educational scholarships through its unique program that offers parents and legal guardians working in the field a chance to further their education.

The Education Foundation of the Architectural Woodwork Institute awarded $50,000 worth of scholarships in June to 25 eligible students from eight academic institutions who aspire to have careers in the woodworking industry. The awards mark an impressive milestone for the AWIEF, resulting from a $1 million contribution from the Quality Certification Corporation in 2021 for annual scholarship funding of $50,000 per year for 20 years.

The list goes on. These examples are just the tip of the iceberg on what support is available to protect the future of the industry, and much more can be found through networking and some research.  

This article was originally published in the August 2022 issue.

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