WCA President Talks Training, Credentialing and More

The Woodwork Career Alliance of North America heads into the 2020s building on the solid foundation of its Passport credentialing program that is widely recognized throughout the United States and Canada.

In a recent free-wielding phone interview, Scott Nelson, president of the WCA, discussed the North American wood product industry’s ongoing challenge to recruit, train and retain skilled employees. He also provided his thoughts on how companies can use the WCA’s credentialing program to meet those multiple challenges and discussed plans for rolling out WCA 4.0 to accredit employees who work in manufacturing cells.

Rich Christianson: Since its inception in 2007, the Woodwork Career Alliance has developed more than 300 woodworking skill standards and grown its database of registered Passport holders to nearly 2,600. At long last, the woodworking industry has a credentialing program to rival metal working, automotive, welding and other skilled trades. With those accomplishments as a backdrop, what do you view as the WCA’s biggest achievement in 2019?

I am extremely gratified by the increased use of the WCA credentialing program.

Scott Nelson: I am extremely gratified by the increased use of the WCA credentialing program. Last year we added a record 507 new individual Passport members. Even more telling, we issued 418 credentials representing a 50 percent increase. It’s fantastic that we’re finally starting to see the number of new credentials approaching the number of people who are issued Passports. That means a greater percentage of Passport holders are being tested to the Skill Standar

Christianson: Who were these credentials issued to last year?

Nelson: The vast majority of the credentials were awarded to high school students for earning their Sawblade Certificate. But we’re also seeing a smaller, yet still healthy, increase in professional accreditations.

On the high school level, we’re seeing more woodworking teachers starting to test their kids. It’s one thing for instructors to just sign up their students for WCA Passports, but it’s another for them to take the time to administer the skill evaluations, record the individual student’s tool points and see that their qualified students take the online test to ultimately receive their Sawblade Certificate.

Christianson: Why do you think more high school woodworking instructors are making the effort to test their students now? What’s changed?

Nelson: First, I think more teachers are prioritizing evaluations and testing for the Sawblade Certificate as part of their lesson plans and schedules. It takes time to do any of those tests. They have to plan for it and until they’ve done it the first time, they really don’t know how long it takes. Once they become familiar with how it works and how long it takes, they are able to make it part of their day-to-day curriculum.

Second, we’ve seen a lot of credentialing activity in Wisconsin where public high school programs qualify for special funding based on national certification, which is what the WCA is all about. Colorado also is putting this type of government reimbursement program in place, again based on being affiliated with a recognized certification organization like the WCA. These funds are very important for supporting those high school programs and keeping them viable in an era when woodworking programs are more likely to be reduced or eliminated than improved or started. Hopefully we’ll see more states adopt this type of funding model in the next few years.

In some ways, we’re in a race against time. On one hand, I think more and more schools are realizing the benefit of being an EDUcation member of the WCA. It brings structure and additional legitimacy to being part of a program that was created with industry needs in mind. Unfortunately, while we gained nearly 30 new high school programs last year, we lost a similar number. In most cases, the program is no longer there. A lot of times the woodshop teacher leaves or retires and the school can’t find a replacement because most require industrial arts teachers to have a teaching certificate. There just aren’t enough teachers with woodworking experience to fill the gaps.

Christianson: You mentioned that WCA has made inroads among woodworking professionals. How so?

It takes a dedicated effort to create an effective formal training program. But once it’s in place, it can be used over and over again. There’s a long-term payoff.

Nelson: Getting industry participation has been a tough nut to crack, but we are making gains as attested by the 54 green credentials we issued in 2019. Our first challenge has been to make industry aware of the WCA credentialing program and how they can use it to develop in-house training programs for new and current employees. Then, companies have to be willing to put in the time. Every plant has a different set of circumstances so consequently there has to be a champion in each plant for it to work. It takes a dedicated effort to create an effective formal training program. But once it’s in place, it can be used over and over again. There’s a long-term payoff.

A common concern among woodworking companies is the fear of “If I train them, they’ll leave.” That’s a big problem for the industry and the WCA. They are afraid to spend the time and money to train somebody, give him a credential and then maybe see that person go work for the shop next door for more money. That’s human nature and they have to get over that.

Companies also have to understand that they may not have the right opening for someone who has acquired new skill sets from their training but the other company might have an opening. So, the employee is going to leave for a better opportunity. That’s just the way it is.

Christianson: How can the WCA credentialing program help a company retain employees they train?

Nelson: A good real-world example of how the WCA standards can be used by industry is Jefferson Millwork. They were pioneers in adopting the WCA credentialing program not only to structure training for new hires, but to create an incentive program that ties pay raises to employees who grow their credentials. Last fall, Jefferson was the first woodworking company to award the red credential to an employee. They proved it can be done. We can only hope that other woodworking companies are paying attention.

Having a good training program in your plant is always going to increase your bottom line because of greater productivity, fewer mistakes and fewer do-overs.

I honestly don’t understand how companies can skimp when it comes to training their employees. Having a good training program in your plant is always going to increase your bottom line because of greater productivity, fewer mistakes and fewer do-overs. When you have someone coming in fresh off the street you have to teach them the basics. They have to understand what your products are, what their characteristics are, why controlling moisture is important, the machines and tools you are working with, and how to read a tape measure. These are basic things that have to be taught. Just having Joe follow John around for six months is not enough. You need a formal training program so that the new hire knows this week we’re covering this, in week two we’re going to cover this, in week three we’re going to cover that.

It all starts with a company’s culture. If you want an employee to stay, you need your training program to be tied to a career path for them. But an employer can’t tell the employee what it means to go from A to Z if the company doesn’t have a formal system in place for evaluating the employee’s progress. Again, this is where the WCA comes in.

Christianson: What’s on tap for the WCA in 2020?

Nelson: At last year’s AWFS Fair we announced plans to develop the WCA 4.0 credentialing program to complement our current Passport program. We recognize that there are a lot of woodworkers who are working in cell-based manufacturing environments who would have a hard time earning credentials based on our current tool points system. The basic concept of WCA 4.0 is to help an employee develop their skills within their cell and then be cross-trained to work in additional cells. Theoretically the employer would compensate the worker based on how much value they are able to add in terms of productivity, maintenance, etc. The more sophisticated the machine or cell and the more cells that person can work in, the more valuable he becomes to the company. So now when someone is absent, their lines do not stop.

The cream always rises to the top. The newer employee is going to have to acquire experience but you still have to test him through the whole process. He can say that he can do everything but you have to test him to be sure. By running a test, you might find he’s where he needs to be or behind or maybe even ahead. If you don’t have a testing program, you don’t have any way of knowing it.

We are not the teaching arm. We are the testing arm and a certifying body.

WCA has the test. We’re not going to tell you how to teach your employees. However, we have resources and information that can help companies develop their training programs. We are not the teaching arm. We are the testing arm and a certifying body.

Christianson: What’s the next step for WCA 4.0?

Nelson: We are planning to partner with Woodworking Network on a benchmark industry survey that goes beyond simply reaffirming the woodworking industry’s long-stranding struggle to find and keep good workers. We want to identify ways to help the industry meet that challenge. This includes gathering information from woodworking companies about some of the key components for structuring WCA 4.0 and how we can best deliver this new credentialing program to them. We have ideas, but we want to verify that what we are doing it correctly and to solicit input for improving on our ideas.

We want to offer solutions to help individual companies by creating a flow of knowledge. Every company is different. Some use panels, some don’t. Some make mouldings, some don’t. Some do piecework only, some don’t. Our goal is to create a menu of options that each company can choose from based on their circumstances.

We will be publishing the key results of the study and will have more to share at IWF in Atlanta. Bruce Spitz (past president of the Architectural Woodwork Institute) and I will present a How to Create Your Own Training Program workshop. Attendees will have the opportunity to develop their own training template using WCA skill standards. Some guys are going to want to emphasize the WCA Passport program and some are going to be more interested in WCA 4.0. We’ll cover both in the workshop.

Christianson: Any final words?

Nelson: Like it or not, woodworking companies have to understand that they are competing with higher paying jobs in other industries. That’s not only a perception, it’s a reality. If we can’t afford to pay our people as well as other manufacturing jobs, then it becomes even more vital to create career paths that reward them based on their desire and ability to enhance their skill sets.

Every company experiences turnover. The goal is to minimize so that it only happens at entry level. Once you’ve invested a couple of years in training someone, you presumably would want to keep that person. Having a written plan that rewards an employee for achieving specific goals that can be fairly evaluated shows that you care about that person’s career.

Sometimes the best person to keep is someone who shows up to work, has a great attitude and is a positive influence on your operation. Once you have the formal plan in place, you are on track to make someone a great employee for life.

WI School District Opens Center for Design and Innovation

The Wauwatosa School District celebrated the completion of its new $1.3 million Wauwatosa Center for Design and Innovation on Thursday, January 30 with a ribbon-cutting and tours of the renovated space located inside Wauwatosa West High School. The school is an EDUcation member of the Woodwork Career Alliance of North America.

City, state, and business leaders were invited to celebrate the new Center, which is the district’s first Fabrication Lab. In the Center, students have access to digital manufacturing, CNC, and traditional manufacturing equipment, as well as design software.

“The Center for Design and Innovation is about just that – helping students to be creative, problem-solve, develop solutions, innovate ideas, and collaborate – all core competencies of our vision for every Wauwatosa graduate,” said Superintendent Phil Ertl. “This space is also about reframing what it means to pursue technical education and preparing students for in-demand, high-paying jobs in the trades.”

The new machines that have been added will allow Wauwatosa students to train on state-of-the-art equipment they would find in the real world, preparing them for careers of the present and future.

“We literally can design and make almost anything. For this reason alone our ability to research and develop solutions to problems is unmatched in the area,” said Bill Morse, a former technical education teacher at West High School who is currently working in a consulting role on the project. “The combination of the modern facilities, cutting edge equipment and technology, growing industry connections, committed teachers from across varying curricular areas and leadership makes Wauwatosa a true leader, not only in Tech Ed, but within the maker space community in the state.”

Three separate rooms, which included wood and metal shops were converted to an open space where students can see the entire process of design and manufacturing from the brainstorming phase, to design, to product development.

Wauwatosa students provided tours of the space and demonstrations of the equipment to guests, which included local business leaders, State Rep. Robyn Vining, State Sen. Dale Kooyenga, Wauwatosa Mayor Kathy Ehley and Wauwatosa District 6 Alderwoman Allison Byrne.

The Wauwatosa Center for Design and Innovation was completed through a phased renovation of the technical education space inside Wauwatosa West High School, with the first phase of work completed in summer of 2018. The second phase began in summer 2019 as one of the projects included in the District’s facilities referendum. The District has also been awarded several grants toward the project, including a $24,000 grant from the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC) in 2019.

The Center for Design and Innovation will support the Wauwatosa School District’s ongoing efforts to ensure its students are college, career, and life ready and will expand the District’s offering of hands-on learning in science, engineering, art, and math.

Students from both Wauwatosa high schools are able to take courses in the center. In the future, the goal is for students who are not taking one of the anchor courses designed for the Center for Design and Innovation to be able to use it on a walk-in basis or when their clubs meet. During that time, they will be able to tinker, explore, and invent using the various pieces of digital equipment, under the supervision of a staff member.

The long-term plan is for the District to allow all Wauwatosa residents access to the Center, creating a community-based experience.

Newspaper: ‘Students Learn Real World Skills’ in RCHS Woodshop

The Morris Herald recently published a feature on the Reed-Custer High School (RCHS) woodworking program in Braidwood, IL.

The article highlights instructor Mark Smith’s commitment to teaching students not only how to work wood, but the business of woodworking as well.

The article notes, “(S)tudents learn business acumen, industry standards and how to network with professionals, right alongside carpentry, engineering, architectural design and how to use tools and machinery. Businesses court them before they graduate.”

RCHS is an EDUcation member of the Woodwork Career Alliance of North America and Smith is a member of WCA’s education committee. Pathways ran an article on Smith last summer emphasizing the many ways he publicizes his program and how it has helped him develop industry partnerships.

Read the Morris Herald’s article about the RCHS woodworking program.

Welcome New Members & Sponsors!

The Woodwork Career Alliance of North America is pleased to welcome five new EDUcation™ member schools, one new MANufacturing™ member, three new INDustry™ Sponsors. We also welcome back nine sponsors for another year.

Thank you for your membership and support!

New EDUcation™ Members
Canaan Memorial High School, Canaan, VT
Hill-McCloy High School, Montrose, MI
MakeHaven Inc., New Haven, CT
Sheboygan Falls High School, Sheboygan Falls, WI
Smith Vocational High School, Northampton, MA

Find WCA EDUcation™ woodworking programs in your area.

New MANufacturing™ Member
MCS Woodworking LLC, New Berlin, WI

New INDustry™ Gold Sponsor
, Dale, IN

INDustry™ Gold Sponsor Renewals
Atlantic Plywood,
Woburn MA
Daniels-Olsen/Metro Hardwoods,
Sioux Falls, SD
M.L. Campbell,
The Woodlands, TX
North American Building Materials Distributor Association (NBMDA),
Chicago, IL
Stiles Machinery,
Grand Rapids, MI
Web-Don, Charlotte, NC
Wurth Group North America, Vernon Hills, IL

New INDustry™ Silver Sponsors
C.R. Onsrud,
Troutman, NC
Star Moulding,
Bedford Park, IL
WDLusk Consulting,
Dallas, TX

INDustry™ Silver Sponsor Renewals
Aiken Controls,
Lenoir, NC
Weima America, Fort Mill, SC

View all WCA INDustry™ Sponsors & Supporters.

Learn more about the benefits of sponsoring the WCA.

Video: Madison College’s Cabinetmaking Program

This short, yet informative video, highlights the Cabinetmaking & Millwork program at Madison College. The program is a charter EDUcation member of the Woodwork Career Alliance of North America.

Learn more about WCA EDU membership.

Young Cabinetmaker Savors WorldSkills Experience

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Ethan Harrison calls representing the United States in the international competition a ‘once in a lifetime opportunity.’ 


“Very, very intense.” That’s how Ethan Harrison described competing in the WorldSkills Cabinetmaking competition held last October in Kazan, Russia.

“Every second you had to be doing something and thinking ahead to the next things that had to be done,” said Harrison, who represented the United States in the three-day event. “We were basically given half of the time that you would need to complete the project. It was a challenge for everyone to face the additional obstacles and pressures that were created by the time crunch.”

Harrison placed 27th among the 30 WorldSkills competitors, but came within a handful of points of moving up several rankings. “I know I could have done better, but looking around (during the competition) I could see that everyone made plenty of mistakes,” Harrison said. “It just depended on where you made them and how everything else went to impact your score.”

“I think coming into the competition that we were a little blindsided by the time constraints,” said Jeff Molzahn, an instructor of Madison College, who helped Harrison prepare for WorldSkills. “Both of us expected to put out a quality finished product but it was not possible in the allotted time.”

Molzahn witnessed the impact of contestants’ putting speed before accuracy in serving as an evaluator for the WorldSkills Competition. “When I saw all of the projects standing side by side, I was really kind of dismayed by the fact that they lacked quality. All I saw was a bunch of projects that had a lot of flaws. Whoever got the least number of flaws would get the most points and win.”

“Jeff did a great job of training me but neither one of us knew what to expect at WorldSkills,” Harrison said. “The competition required you to do multiple parts at once and then turn them in on a timetable. Because I had not trained for that and was not aware of it, I was at a huge disadvantage to many of the competitors who either had competed in other world-wide events or had experts who had experience in those competitions.”

Adding to the time-induced stress, Molzahn said, were the “tight quarters” assigned to each of the 30 competitors. “They were really packed in there, probably a 10-foot by 12-foot space to work on their project.”

Molzahn said the project was a free-standing, two-door cabinet with one drawer and a sketch face veneer top. The unit was about 36 inches tall, 24 inches wide and 18 inches deep. In addition to producing the sketch face, some of the other skills the contestants had to demonstrate included hand-cutting dovetails for the drawer, crafting mortise-and-tenon legs and rails, edgebanding panels, constructing panel frames and installing door hinges.

Training for WorldSkills the WCA Way
A graduate of Blackfoot High School in Blackfoot, ID, Harrison qualified for WorldSkills by winning a one-on-one competition at SkillsUSA 2018 in Louisville, KY. The year before, he won the Silver medal at the SkillsUSA nationals.

To prepare for the WorldSkills stage, Harrison spent eight months training in Madison, WI, often interacting with students enrolled in Madison College’s Cabinetmaking & Millwork program. He also worked on three different yet similar test projects, all small furniture pieces. A significantly modified version of what Molzahn referred to as the “Ireland project,” was used at WorldSkills.

In retrospect, Molzahn said he probably was not strict enough about setting time limits Harrison to complete the test projects. “What happens at the competition is that they have less than 24 hours over three days to build these cabinets that would take a cabinetmaker 60 hours or more to put out a quality product. They are really rushing these kids. I didn’t fully understand that until I got there and saw what was going on.

“I trained Ethan as a cabinetmaker,” Molzahn continued. “He learned knowledge that we can take with him for the rest of his life. If I had just trained him as a competitor – made him build each test project three, four or five times – he might have done better in the competition, but that’s about it.”

“I think the biggest advantage of training at Madison College was being able to use all of the machinery there, especially the shaper which was the primary tool that we used in Russia,” Harrison said. “The panel saw was another key tool used heavily in the competition. By and large, having so much time to work with the machinery helped me gain the skills I needed so that I felt comfortable walking up to a machine and just go.”

As part of his training, Molzahn, who is an assessed skill evaluator for the Woodwork Career Alliance of North America, introduced Harrison to the WCA’s Passport credentialing program. Harrison earned his Blue credential plus tool points toward the Green credential, the second level of the WCA’s five-level credentialing system.

Harrison said he benefitted from being evaluated on a wide range of the Woodworking Skills developed by the WCA to earn tool points for his credentials. “It was a way for me to test my skills including the core things you should be thinking about every time you walk into a shop or turn on a machine. Now, with the Passport, I’ll have something to show to a shop owner that I have these skills when it comes time to look for a job.”

Ethan Harris and his woodworking advisor Jeff Molzahn at WorldSkills in Kazan, Russia.

A Bright Future
Harrison went home to Blackfoot for a couple of months before heading to Lima, Peru, on a two-year mission for the Church of Latter-day Saints. After he completes his mission, he plans to enroll in Pittsburg State University’s Architectural Millwork and Manufacturing Technology program. “My goal is to work in an architectural woodworking shop, hopefully in project management or shop management,” Harrison said.

Molzahn is confident that Harrison will have a successful career. “His hand skills are just out of this world. He’s a hard worker, works well within a group and showed during his time in Madison that he is capable of grasping an incredible amount of technical information.”

“I’m so grateful to all of the people who have helped me from my high school shop teacher to Jeff and all of the other mentors I’ve had in life and woodworking,” Harrison said.

“Participating in WorldSkills was a once in a lifetime opportunity and I have no regrets. I did my best. I moved 1,500 miles from home and trained as hard as I could and with all of the resources I had. In the process I learned a lot about life and a lot about building cabinets. I look back on it positively, even my ranking. It was still an honor to stand alongside 30 of the best young cabinetmakers in the world.”

An Olympic-like Atmosphere

Ethan Harrison, the U.S. representative in the 2019 WorldSkills Cabinetmaking competition held in Kazan, Russia, said the ceremonies of the event reminded him of the Olympics.

“There was an entire soccer stadium filled with people and fireworks going off as each country was introduced and walked up to the stage,” Harrison said. “That was probably the biggest moment for each of us, the pride and honor of representing our country and waving our flag.”

Jeff Molzahn, instructor of Madison College, also likened the pageantry of WorldSkills to the Olympics. “Russia invested a lot of money into the event and they were just wonderful hosts,” Molzahn said. “To me it felt like what I see on TV when I watch the Olympics. The opening and closing ceremonies were sensational. They even had President Vladimir Putin there to give a speech for the closing.”

A total of 1,354 young professionals representing 63 countries competed in 56 skill competitions. In addition to cabinetmaking, the event included contests in 3D digital game art, floristry, cloud computing, CNC milling, mobile robotics. baking, hair dressing, freight forwarding to name a few.

First held in 1950 in Madrid, Spain, WorldSkills aims to “raise the profile and recognition of skilled people and show how important skills are in achieving economic growth and personal success.” The 46th WorldSkills competition will take place in Shanghai, China, in 2021.

Learn more at WorldSkills.com.

29 High Schools Join Woodwork Career Alliance

Students of Hononegah High School pose with their fall semester woodworking projects.

Nellysford, VA – The Woodwork Career Alliance of North America welcomes 29 high school woodworking programs as EDUcation™ members for the 2019-20 academic year.

The 29 new EDU members include 13 schools in Wisconsin, four each in North Carolina and Illinois, and two in California. The other six schools are located in Minnesota, Nevada, Ohio, Utah, Washington and Alberta, Canada.

With the newly added schools, WCA EDU membership now totals more than 130 in the U.S. and Canada. In addition to high school woodshops, EDU membership includes college woodworking programs and other career technical education institutions.

EDU member programs are licensed to use the WCA Woodworking Skill Standards and Passport credentialing program recognized throughout North America. Other EDU member benefits include access to training materials and videos, plus free and exclusive discounts for woodshop necessities through the WCA Essentials Benefit Package.

Chadrick Parrott, who has been teaching woodworking classes for 12 years, including the last seven at Indian Valley High School of Gnadenhutten, OH, said he chose to join the WCA “to formalize my curriculum to align with current industry standards. I hope to improve our curriculum and develop relationships with other teachers and industry professionals.”

Jason Glodowski, who instructs about 50 students each year at Hononegeh High School in Rockton, IL, said, “I decided to join the WCA because of the national certification that students can obtain as well as the standardized nationally recognized assessments in the program. I’m hoping my local business partners recognize and value my certified students in the hiring process. And I’m also hoping that it brings more local and state recognition to my program, in regards to level of quality and what is to be expected of my students.” Glodowski noted that Hononegeh High School plans to add a second level cabinetry class.

“We’re pleased to welcome these new EDU members to the WCA,” said Scott Nelson, WCA president. “These schools are demonstrating their commitment to making sure their woodworking programs are in line with industry’s needs for candidates who have been trained to safely operate equipment and have demonstrated the aptitude to continue growing their woodworking skills.”

The full list of new WCA EDU member high schools includes:

Arroyo High School, El Monte, CA
Bartlett Yancey High School, Yanceyville, NC
Battle Ground High School, Brush Prairie, WA
Beloit Memorial High School, Beloit, WI
Bertie High School, Windsor, NC
Crosby-Ironton High School, Crosby, MN
D.C. Everest High School, Schofield, WI
Dakota High School, Dakota, IL
F. J. Turner High School, Beloit, WI
Fennimore High School, Fennimore, WI
Franklin High School, Franklin, WI
Hillcrest High School, Midvale, UT
Hononegah Community School, Rockton, IL
Indian Valley High School, Gnadenhutten, OH
Jefferson High School, Jefferson, WI
Johns A. Holmes High School, Edenton, NC
Kettle Moraine High School, Wales, WI
Lord Beaverbrook High School, Calgary, AB
Louisburg High School, Franklinton, NC
Mukwonago High School, Mukwonago, WI
Oregon High School, Oregon, WI
Palmyra-Eagle High School, Palmyra, WI
Pecatonica High School, Pecatonica, IL
Ridgewood High School, Norridge, IL
San Marcos High School, Santa Barbara, CA
South Milwaukee High School, South Milwaukee, WI
Spring Creek High School, Spring Creek, NV
Stoughton High School, Stoughton, WI
West High School, Wauwatosa, WI

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 130 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.

KCD Software Supports WCA’s Efforts to Grow a Skilled Woodworking Workforce

KCD Software is the first software developer to become a Gold Sponsor of the Woodwork Career Alliance.


Cataumet, MA – KCD Software, a leading design-to-manufacture software provider for the cabinet and closet markets, recently signed on as a Gold Sponsor of the Woodwork Career Alliance of North America (WCA).

The not-for-profit WCA works with high school and postsecondary woodworking programs to help them develop skills-based curricula. WCA also provides tools to wood product manufacturers to develop employee training programs.

The Gold Sponsorship program supports the not-for-profit WCA’s mission to elevate the woodworking profession to youth and job seekers, support workforce development through the creation of skill standards, and create career paths based on its credentialing Passport program recognized throughout the United States and Canada. WCA credentials now encompass measurable skill standards for more than 300 woodworking machines and operations ranging from accurately reading a tape measure through operating a CNC router.

“We greatly appreciate and welcome the support of KCD Software as a Gold Sponsor,” said Scott Nelson, president of the WCA. “With the help of our sponsors we have continued to increase industry awareness and use of the WCA skill standards and Passport program. These are important tools that schools can adopt to shape their woodshop programs and that woodworking companies of all sizes can use to recruit, train and retain great employees.”

“KCD Software is pleased to pledge its support to help the WCA develop and grow a skilled woodworking workforce,” said Tara Murphy, co-owner of KCD Software. “We recognize that the skilled worker shortage in our industry is a universal problem. We applaud the WCA for developing programs that promote the woodworking profession and create career opportunities.”


About KCD Software
KCD Software is developed for custom cabinetmakers by custom cabinetmakers. Core values of fairness, innovation and customer satisfaction drive KCD Software’s commitment to making great design, price and manufacturing software for the custom cabinet and closet industries. The Development Team has been recognized by the Adex Award for Woodworking Design and the AWFS Sequoia Award for Innovation in Software Productivity for outstanding product development. Learn more at kcdsoftware.com.

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 credentialing Passports, a portable, personal permanent record documenting each holder’s record of woodworking skill achievements. More than 130 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.

WCA Updates Passport Credentials

The Woodwork Career Alliance of North America has updated its Passport with the latest information about the WCA’s credentialing program and how it works.

The updated Passport includes:

  • Overview of the WCA’s more than 300 woodworking skill standards from layout to finishing.
  • Explanation of certification levels beginning with the Sawblade Certificate for students and Green Certificate for woodworking professionals through , Blue, Red Gold and ultimately Diamond.
  • Summary of membership categories for school woodworking programs, wood product manufacturers and individuals.
  • Concise history of the WCA.

View the newly designed Passport info.



Wisconsin Adds 17 New WCA Evaluators

Seventeen more educators recently completed their Woodwork Career Alliance (WCA) Skill Evaluator training at Madison College.

These teachers are now certified to award WCA skill points and credentials to their students. While the WCA has evaluators in 23 states and two Canadian provinces, Wisconsin has the highest concentration of Accredited Skill Evaluators (ASE) in North America. Spurred on by funding from the Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development, high schools in the state can receive up to $1,000 per student for each credential awarded.

“Interest in the Woodwork Career Alliance is accelerating,” stated WCA President Scott Nelson. “Teachers see the positive benefits in aligning their curricula to industry standards and taking advantage of the many resources the WCA has to offer.”

The Woodwork Career Alliance is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization designed to assist wood manufacturers in finding and training skilled woodworkers.

For more information about the WCA, visit woodworkcareer.org

Madison College is pleased to partner with the WCA to help train the next generation of woodworking educators. Since 2011, nearly 100 evaluators have been trained at the college. For more information on Madison College’s programming, visit madisoncollege.edu or contact Patrick Molzahn at pmolzahn@madisoncollege.edu or (608) 246-6842.