While new plastics and other materials have been developed, the need for wood products remains strong in good economic times. Retirement of woodworkers has opened the market for woodworkers. Both of these situations make the outlook bright for those considering a career in woodworking. However, several new trends are affecting the employment outlook for woodworkers.
Training and Education
Most woodworkers trained with a relative, a mentor, or through an apprenticeship program. Achieving certified, skilled woodworker status takes at least two years beyond a secondary school graduation diploma. The best woodworking positions exist for those with experience in computer aided design (CAD) andthose who can operate computerized numerical control machines.
Woodworkers are employed in industries that make wood products or sell wood for production. These include sawmills and plywood mills, furniture factories, manufacturers of kitchen and bathroom cabinets, musical instruments, and other fabricated wood products. Woodworkers are also employed in small craft shops that produce architectural woodwork, furniture, and specialty goods.
Process woodworkers convert raw products such as logs to pulp, lumber, shingles, trusses and other usable wood forms.
Production woodworkers are responsible for setting up, operating, and monitoring woodworking machines including: power saws, planers, sanders, lathes, jointers, and routers. In manufacturing facilities where wood products are made, woodworkers must decide the best way to shape and assemble components by studying blueprints, supervisor’s directions, or sketches they created. Knowledge of computer-aided design and computer-set computer-controlled machines is almost mandatory in today’s woodworking businesses.
Specialty craftsmen are woodworkers who create one-of-a-kind wood articles such as: cabinets, tables, chairs, beds, and dressers. They are usually self-employed or they are employed by a small specialty shop.
Changes in the Woodworking Industry
The jobs of woodworkers have changed due to technological advances especially in computer-controlled machinery. Such innovations have done much to increase productivity. A single operator can monitor several different machines. Using computerized numerical controls (CNC), an operator can program a machine to carry out a series of functions automatically. Thisimproves both precision and reliability.
Computerized machinery has increased production speed and capabilities. Preparation and maintenance tasks have been simplified. However, these innovations have made workers with computer skills an absolute necessity.
Advancements in technology havealso created innovative robots and CNC machinery. Companies have increased productivity rates while decreasing the number of woodworkers
As imports increase North America will lose more and more jobs. Companies will move operations off shore to take advantage of cheaper labor.
Increasing use of alternate materials like metal, plastic, and fiberglass as substitutes for wood will result in fewer employment opportunities for North American woodworkers.
Environmental measures limiting pollution created by woodworking operations will adversely affect employment growth.
Many publications like newspapers, magazines, journals and catalogues are being read on handheld devices and laptops. Books have been replaced by e-Books. This trend toward electronic versions of written publications has resulted in a decrease in need for pulp and paper products.