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WMC by Richard Lipman
Richard Lipman is president of the Wood Manufacturing Council. For more info email rlipman@wmc-cfb.ca
High school teachers across Canada have had to leave the friendly confines of their wood shops and switch to delivering online learning to their students. The Wood Manufacturing Council (WMC) has been speaking to school boards and teachers who are looking for resources to work with during their current reality and we are pleased to offer them access to various materials online.    
Our wood-specific essential skills assessment materials offer a valuable base of practical questions that teachers can take advantage of. Based on industry input, we developed these materials for such skills as Numeracy, Reading Text, Thinking Skills, Document Use etc.
There are multiple levels of complexity available in most of these areas to meet the varying needs and abilities of the learners. Provided are questions that could be encountered in a wood manufacturing business, in the office or on the plant floor, to teach and enhance these critical basic skills, which industry tells us regularly are important and could be enhanced within the workforce. The option of self-assessment by students or formal testing by the instructors is available.
This material is available at www.wmc-cfb.ca/resource/essential-skills/.  Employers as well can take advantage of these materials for training their staff or evaluating prospective employees.
WoodLINKS is a high school curriculum for woodworking that can lead to industry-recognized certification of graduates. During the current challenges and resulting school closures, we can provide participating instructors with access to the Core and the Sub-Sector Module Curriculum documents, as well as all the chapters of our WoodLINKS Study Guides.   
The Core Curriculum contains the fundamentals for entry-level employment in the industry, such as fundamental woodworking, safety, essential skills and technical skills. The curriculum prepares students in both work readiness and wood manufacturing competencies. The program places a great level of importance on safety. It has value beyond training those students who don’t go on to post-secondary programs and has served to generate students’ interest in moving on to wood-specific apprenticeship training, community college and university programs. Some institutions award academic credit or recognition to students for passing the WOODLINKS program (ie. Conestoga College and UBC).
Traditionally, WoodLINKS is a flexible 240-hour (normally 120 Introductory-level, 120 Advanced-level) certificate program for teaching industrial woodworking to Grade 11 and 12 students (typically). Teachers determine what grades they wish to teach it in. It provides a valuable tool for preparing students for careers in the wood industry. It offers students theoretical knowledge and hands-on skills acquired through the completion of exercises, class projects, using tools etc.  
The curriculum is accompanied by comprehensive study guides.  The study guides contain numerous relevant sections, which in most cases include self-tests, to monitor learning as students work their way through.  Answers to the tests can be provided directly to the students as part of their home learning experience or can be stripped out, so the tests can be used as assessments by teachers. Upon the successful conclusion of the program, interested students can challenge for a certificate that attests that they have met the industry standard (minimum grade for certification is 70%) for entry-level employment in the wood manufacturing industry.   This allows students to receive an industry credential to go along with the education credential they receive from the school.  
With funding from the British Columbia government, WoodLINKS was originally created in 1996. It was made possible through a cooperative development process involving representatives of the B.C. wood products manufacturing industry and secondary and post-secondary educational institutions. The high school teachers were looking for material for students who would benefit from practical and 
hands-on skilled trades learning and industry was looking for more good quality entry level workers.  Eventually, when the provincial funding was no longer available, the WMC and WoodLINKS joined forces and the program became an integral part of our suite of human resource products. When we assumed ownership, we were fortunate to receive the benefit of the years of experience of 
the program administrators 
and users. We subsequently updated and reorganized the curriculum, thanks to subject matter experts from industry and education. The updated curriculum offers revamped core learning requirements and prepares students for the four pathways for success: workplace, apprenticeship, college or university.
One of our big additions was the development of sub-sector modules.  Teachers select a sub-sector module in one of ten disciplines, including: Furniture, Windows and Doors, Cabinets and Millwork, Fine Woodworking, Manufactured Housing, Entrepreneurship, Remanufactured Wood and Panel Products, Lumber and Pulp and Paper. The skills to be developed with these modules were again identified by committees of educators and manufacturers from the various product groups being covered. The sub-sector modules allow schools to tailor their program to local industry, ensuring that the curriculum and training received by the student will pay dividends once the student is ready to search for work.
WMC is pleased to be amongst those supporting and assisting teachers that have had to leave their shops and transition to teaching from a distance, in these unusual times. It is great to see that the vision of the industry champions who created WoodLINKS and the essential skills materials continues to contribute and help develop the future generation of entry-level skilled graduates for our sector and for the related post-secondary programs. 
Even in a short time, the feedback we have received from teachers on the benefits and value of the materials online, along with good suggestions 
on possible enhancements, has been very useful.    
If you are in contact with your local high school, we would be pleased to outline the benefits of the WoodLINKS program to them. Please contact Richard Lipman, President, Wood Manufacturing Council, rlipman@wmc-cfb.ca.
Please stay safe and healthy.

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