For young people, getting the right start in life is not always easy. But with the right support, guidance and training, fantastic career opportunities can be carved  out– and that’s exactly what’s happening at Didac’s Woodwise Academy in Bristol.

Proskills’ managing director Jonathan Ledger recently took a trip down to see all the fabulous work going on at the Woodwise Academy and was blown away by the high class skills training, fantastic facilities and superb support that is delivered to students by a really committed team of industry focused trainers. Jonathan along with Proskills’ Wood and Furniture Industry Lead, Lisa Williamson, met with directors Martin James and Jon Gibson to discuss how partnership activities will be shaped in the future.

The wood, furniture and merchanting industries benefit from strong employer support and have a wide range of training courses, qualifications and apprenticeships at their disposal. However there remains difficulty in reaching some employers so that they can realise the benefits of using all the existing skills system to their maximum potential. In a world where the skills system is being challenged to deliver advanced level and higher quality training and skills to employers, it’s clear that we don’t need more new initiatives  or facilities or training providers.

Jonathan Ledger, managing director at Proskills UK Group said: “We all need to maximise the existing skills system and facilities so that we get it doing what employers want; and if what’s already there doesn’t quite work in the way that industry would like, then employers need to get involved to help repurpose and enhance it.”

“Part of this comes down to us continually informing the industry of what’s out there; part is about helping employers and individuals access the right part of the skills system so they get the very best from it. Of course part of the responsibility falls on to employers – who just need contact us as Proskills UK continues to develop the wood,  furniture and merchanting skills system led by employers, but is always seeking more employer involvement. So get involved!”

Martin James, co-founder and director of Didac added: “This year has seen the launch of several new qualifications developed exclusively for our sector. This has had an immediate positive impact on demand from employers because the new qualifications are just what the sector needed, which is hardly surprising because seasoned executives from the wood, furniture and merchanting sectors were heavily involved in the development of their qualifications.”

“The training, facilities and support that Didac provide for the industry is essential for its future success, ensuring we have the right skills in place to make the industry safer and prosperous. The Woodwise Woodworking machine competence programme is one example, where they are delivering the skills needed to ensure  that both employees and employers meet the HSE requirements in making the industry a safer place to work and more productive.”

Lisa Williamson, Proskills Industry Lead for the sector said: “This year has seen the launch of several new qualifications developed exclusively for our sector.  All of them currently attract Government funding, but it’s a case of use it or lose it, so I can only reiterate Jonathan’s comment – get involved, otherwise funding will migrate to other sectors.”