The Woodwork Career Alliance of North America reports a record number of students enrolled in its credentialing program, signifying a growing interest in woodworking career opportunities, which has always been a top goal of the organization, according to WCA president Scott Nelson.
“This year sets a record. We already had 470 kids sign into the program this semester in January 2021, and that is a record number for us in one semester. We usually get about 500 a year at most and we’ve had 200 in the last two months,” Nelson said in June.
The WCA supports workforce development by providing a nationally recognized, standardized system that includes certification of training of new and existing woodworking professionals as well as students at both the high school and post-secondary levels. It offers opportunities for teachers at those schools to become certified evaluators of their students, and for manufacturing companies to train enrolled employees and reward them with credentials.
There’s also been strong interest in the Accredited Skill Evaluator training, moved online because of the pandemic, according to Nelson.
“Last year was an interesting year with Covid, but I think we came out of it better,” he says. “We had to change our training to online for the ASE for teachers that become accredited, and that process has been a much better process because they have to video themselves. We have to grade the videos, so there was a lot more one-on-one interaction with the teacher. I think it gives WCA a better view of the quality of the teachers we have out there.”
But remote learning didn’t work as well for the student certifications, which require passing a 40-question written test and machinery evaluations.
“Everybody was sent home around March 15 last year, so the teachers that had done testing before knew and had already done hands-on evaluations. The others were unable to because of Covid and consequently the students, unless they came back this year, weren’t able to finish their certificate,’ says Nelson.
For more about the WCA and its credentialling programs, visit www.woodworkcareer.org.
This article was originally published in the August 2021 issue.