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Jefferson Millwork Woodworker Becomes First Pro to Earn WCA Red Credential

Richard Memory, apprentice woodworker at Jefferson Millwork & Design, with the fabric rack he designed and fabricated for his WCA red credential project.

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.”

Richard Memory poses with his WCA red credential certificate and Chuck Buck, shop foreman at Jefferson Millwork & Design.

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.”

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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.

President’s Message: Maine State Prison, SkillsUSA & Other Updates

Since our last edition of Pathways, WCA has added eight new EDUcation™ members and five new INDustry™ sponsors.  Please check out our new members listed in the Welcome New Members section of Pathways. The INDustry Sponsorship category is designed to provide a way for manufacturers and distributors of woodworking machinery and supplies and other industry stakeholders to cost-effectively support the WCA and its EDUcation members. Visit our website  to discover which level of sponsorship best fits your company. Sponsorship fees range from $250 for Sawblade level to $1,000 for Gold.

In WCA MANufacturing™ news, the pilot Passport program at the Maine State Prison Industries that we featured in Fall 2017 Pathways is moving forward. Twenty-three inmates have completed the layout sections and are well on their way in obtaining the Green Credential. In addition, Jefferson Millwork of Sterling, VA, featured in Pathways Summer 2017, has successfully brought one of its employees to the Red Credential.  I truly applaud Jefferson Millwork for their ongoing efforts to achieve a trained work force.

Things are very busy this time of year for many of our EDUcation members.  There is a lot of activity with the testing of students for their Sawblade certificate and for participating in state SkillsUSA competitions. I helped with the Nebraska Cabinetmaking Competition and was very pleased with the talent exhibited by these young individuals. We had 25 competitors from high schools and 10 competitors from postsecondary schools. I’ve included a few photos from the competition in this post.

Congratulations and good luck to Tyler McLaughlin of Yutan Public Schools, Yutan, NE, and Derek Summers of Wayne State College, Wayne, NE. They are moving on to represent Nebraska in the 54th annual SkillsUSA National Leadership and Skills Conference, June 25-29 in Louisville, KY. 

Please visit our website and do a search using our interactive map to find EDUcation members – both secondary and post-secondary school – near you.  These schools are a true source for your future employees! I encourage you to get to know your local school’s instructors and support their efforts to teach students about the craft of woodworking.

Finally, don’t forget to mark your calendar for IWF 2018, August 22-25, in Atlanta. Plan on visiting WCA at Booth 4154 to talk about how we can work together to develop and grow a skilled woodworking work force.

Hope everyone is having a great year!

Scott Nelson
President
Woodwork Career Alliance of North America
snelsonwca@gmail.com