STERLING, Va. – Richard Memory, an apprentice woodworker at Jefferson Millwork & Design, was recently awarded the red credential from the Woodwork Career Alliance of North America. He is the first professional woodworker to achieve the red credential, the third level of the WCA’s credentialing Passport program.
Memory, who previously earned his green and blue WCA credentials at Jefferson Millwork, successfully completed evaluation testing on a variety of woodworking operations and designed and made a fabric storage rack to meet the project requirement for the red credential. He has now amassed more than 120 tool points, all of which are documented in the online registry maintained by the WCA.
“I’m very honored and pretty proud of this achievement,” Memory said. “I definitely like the structured approach of the WCA program. It sets measurable objectives that allow me to point to actual things I can say I have done, especially when it comes to the fabric rack that I built for the shop. It’s also great the way Jefferson has structured raises for me based on growing my credentials.”
Chuck Buck, shop foreman of Jefferson Millwork, a member of the Architectural Woodwork Institute, lauded Memory for his dedication to learning new skills and the progress he has made since he began participating in the company’s apprentice woodworker program.
“I guided Richard through removing all guides and bearings,” Buck said. “He cleaned, inspected and replaced bearings as needed. He learned how to choose the proper blade and install it correctly including adjusting it to proper blade tension, adjusting the camber to seat the blade properly, and setting all of the guides and bearings to proper alignment. By the time he completed the skill assessments for the bandsaw, he had a better understanding and respect for the versatility of this machine.”
Buck said Jefferson Millwork began structuring its apprenticeship program around the WCA’s industry-wide recognized skill standards just over two years ago. “I honestly remember going into this being a little skeptical,” said Buck, who supervises a crew of 20 production employees. “I was worried it was going to be a time dissolver for me. Instead, I found that using the WCA skill standards and credentialing system has really helped me evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of individual employees. Because the skill standards are written out, it allows me to focus my concentration on training and evaluating the skills of individual employees. I don’t have to reinvent the wheel.”
“When Richard completes his gold credential, he will begin earning a bench mechanic wage,” Buck added. “It’s a win-win for the both the employee and the company.”
Memory said he is motivated to go for his gold credential and now looks at woodworking as a career instead of just as a job. “I appreciate the aggregate skills I have learned about different types of machines and woodworking in general. It has made me more confident to do things on my own. I’ve even taken up woodworking as a hobby. It’s suddenly a fulfilling and interesting thing to do.”
Scott Nelson, president of the WCA, applauded Memory for his achievement and Jefferson Millwork for being an early adopter of the WCA’s credentialing Passport program. “I want to congratulate Richard for being the first woodworking professional to earn the red credential and thank Jefferson Millwork for making it happen,” Nelson said. “Jefferson was one of the first companies to sign up as a MANufacturing member when we created that category a few years ago. Hopefully other woodworking companies will take note and see the benefits of integrating the WCA skill standards and credentialing program to not only train, but retain employees by offering them a pathway to rewarding woodworking careers.”
About the Woodwork Career Alliance
The Woodwork Career Alliance of North America was founded in 2007 as a 501(c)(3) non-profit corporation and is governed by a volunteer board of directors. The WCA’s mission is to develop and administer a unified set of Skill Standards for the wood products industry. Since 2011, WCA has developed observable and measurable performance standards and assessments for more than 300 woodworking machine operations. In addition, WCA has issued more than 2,500 credentials, a portable, personal permanent record documenting each holder’s record of woodworking skill achievements. More than 100 high schools and post-secondary schools throughout North America are WCA EDUcation™ members and a growing number of woodworking companies have joined the WCA as MANufacturing members. To learn more about the WCA and how to get involved with its programs, including sponsorship opportunities, visit WoodworkCareer.org.