Have you ever thought about becoming a woodworker? One of many cool career paths in the wood products industry, woodworking is a rewarding hands-on profession, and right now, there’s a big demand for fresh recruits. In a recent Woodworking Network survey, 80 percent of professional woodworkers polled said the company they run or work for is having trouble finding laborers, and over 65 percent of them say they’re raising starting pay to help drum up interest.
Sign on bonuses, extra vacation time, sick days and boosts in benefits are other draws many woodworking businesses are beginning to offer. Plus, they’re lowering their hiring standards, accepting many applications who would have previously been ruled out due to factors found in common background checks.
According to the pros who responded to the poll, all of these industry vacancies can be attributed to the rural locations of many shops, the country’s current low unemployment rates, a lack of skilled and unskilled labor and even “millennial low interest and work ethic,” including slow productivity and an inability to put down their smartphones. But that definitely doesn’t mean these businesses aren’t willing to hire youth. In fact, they’re leading a significant push to reach out to high schools and community colleges, educating students about opportunities that are available and how they can get started.
Many professionals in the wood products and timberland industries have noted that schools these days just aren’t doing enough to expose students to the trades, putting pressure on them to go to college instead. But plenty of trades are booming, offering challenging paths with plenty of forward momentum for people who are willing to start low on the rungs and work their way up into management positions. Many businesses are willing to train new applicants from the ground up, offer accommodating schedules and provide financial incentives to employees who refer new workers.
As we’ve noted before, reaching out to younger generations is essential to the future of the wood products industry. Some forestry colleges, like the one at Oregon State University, are starting new programs that visit high school classrooms to talk about professional opportunities and educate the public – one student at a time – about how logging and other aspects of forestry have changed in recent decades. They also talk about how many different career tracks a forestry undergraduate can choose from, including science & engineering, marketing & management, art & design and advanced wood manufacturing.
Check out the details of this poll at WoodworkingNetwork.com.
Top image via Dale Simonson/Flickr CC by 2.0