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Experts lead wood-specific management training this fall

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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
We have seen recently how wood educators have had to shift their focus to online learning with their students, and in many places that will continue in the fall.
During recent Zoom calls I have participated in, with both industry representatives and post-secondary educators, there have been several conversations about how more online workplace training will flow from the COVID-19 situation. When it comes to workplace skills enhancement, online training is a solid option right now. Industry stakeholders have spoken of training that was cancelled or postponed because of the virus and about existing plans for in-person training that may now be delivered online.
Others have talked about scheduling new training, either to assist people who are taking on new responsibilities or for staff who have professional development opportunities in their annual plans. While not the case for everyone, it has also been mentioned that if there are situations where things are somewhat slower right now, as markets return to some version of normal, putting some investment into yourself and your staff, to keep people focussed, engaged and learning is good for them and good for your business both now and in the future.     
One great option coming this September, the UBC Centre for Advanced Wood Processing (CAWP) will deliver three modules of the Wood Manufacturing Council’s (WMC) Management Skills Training Program (MSTP).
This program was designed to be very flexible, so people can either take just one or two individual courses to fill a particular interest or gap in their knowledge, or they choose any six modules (or five plus a supervised individual project) to obtain a WMC Management Certificate qualification. It is important to stress that courses can be taken individually and that it is not requirement to do the entire program.
These are not academic courses and the skills learned can be immediately applied in the workplace. The program’s development was funded by the WMC and participation is open to all.    
The MSTP program takes the form of a set of nine short, affordable online training courses. Each module has email and phone support from a tutor, who is a subject matter expert on the course being offered. The course modules each require approximately 35-45 hours of study over a six- or eight-week period, depending on the module.
They are written specifically for the wood-products industry and include numerous case studies and industry examples. Graphics and diagrams are used extensively. Each module is normally offered at least twice a year and learners move through each course together, interacting and sharing information and experiences with people from other companies from across Canada, all under the guidance of their tutor.   
The MSTP was developed in response to the need to address the sector’s management capacity in both the short and long-term. The joint industry-education committees that oversaw the program development made sure that it was well suited to a variety of audiences; including wood products entrepreneurs who need to learn about and implement various management systems in order to delegate responsibilities and focus on business growth.
Management or supervisory-track employees within woodworking companies, of all sizes, who need to gain new skills to move into positions of greater responsibility can benefit, as can employees who need to understand specific functions within their company in order to do their own jobs more efficiently (e.g. salespeople who need to understand how production decisions are made and vice versa). It is also an excellent tool for people from non-wood products backgrounds who are preparing to take on supervisory or management roles in our industry - this program can provide great industry-specific training for them. Each course module contains a variety of key learning outcomes, that were identified by the many volunteers who committed their expertise, experience and time to the development of the program.

Here is what is in store 
for September 2020
The Business Finance module is aimed at management-track employees that do not have formal financial training, who need a basic grounding in financial concepts so they can manage budgets, analyse return on investment of new acquisitions and produce forecasts related to sales or operational costs, etc. It may also be useful for small business owners and entrepreneurs wishing to refresh or upgrade their knowledge. At the end of this course, successful participants will be able to generate accurate raw accounting data and they will have knowledge of financial options, sources of capital, basic accounting skills and an understanding of financial statements (balance sheet, income statements, statements of cash flow etc.).   
Richard Bruckeder will lead the Production Planning module, which introduces various tools and techniques for planning and managing production activities and includes discussion of modern production management philosophies such as lean manufacturing and continuous improvement. The emphasis is on working with systems and documents that can be implemented right away in participants’ workplaces to improve operational efficiencies. Learning outcomes include the ability to develop detailed data collection sheets to conduct time and motion studies. Students become familiar with production management techniques and how they relate to types of products (standard, custom); types of processes (projects, batch production, mass production, continuous production) and fixed versus variable costs. Students learn to describe lean manufacturing methods and explain the various types of production documentation (route sheets, bill of materials, product structure sheets, etc.). They use tools for break-even analysis (e.g. payback, operating costs, etc.) and explain key measures such as labour productivity, yield, and units per hour. They can also explain important factors in Make versus Buy decisions (outsourcing) and become familiar with the capabilities of production scheduling software.  
The Quality Management and Control course module takes students through the process of establishing a quality management program to track and eliminate product deficiencies, monitor quality performance and reduce the costs of material, customer service, rework and other non value-adding activities that typically erode profits of manufacturing firms. The emphasis is on introducing and working with tools that can quickly be implemented in one’s own production operations to improve quality and efficiency.   
Jason Chiu, managing director of the Centre for Advanced Wood Processing will be the tutor, and participants learn how to develop quality goals, systems to track quality costs and tools to reduce quality costs.  Learners use statistical analysis tools (spreadsheets, check sheets) and graphing tools to 
monitor critical areas.  
They also develop acceptance testing methods for critical materials, analyze and illustrate QC data and describe key aspects of a successful QC program implementation. For this course too, MS Excel spreadsheet skills are required.  
We know from the feedback from participants who have completed various modules over several years that there is much value and much to be learned from this program. Students appreciate the flexibility to choose the times and days that they study and the fact they do not have to travel to attend the courses. It is recommended learners set aside about 6 hour per week to read the online course notes, complete assignments and communicate with their tutor and fellow learners. The online learning portion should not be considered to be independent study, because students will exchange opinions and experiences with each other via online discussions and will be asked to contribute to the course and share information and original work with tutors and fellow learners in various ways. The resulting learning experience will be more robust because of the active interaction amongst the group members and the unique perspective and experience that each learner brings. They can continue to network with classmates well after the course is over. For those that have never taken an e-learning course before, all you need is some general familiarity with a computer, email and the internet (though some modules require MS Excel ability). Participants will become quickly accustomed to 
the user-friendly course website and 
all of its features.
To register, contact Jason Chiu 
at CAWP, at jason.chiu@ubc.ca  
For a copy of the program brochure, email wmc@wmc-cfb.ca.

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