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Six Thumbs Up for WCA’s New Online ASE Training Program

Last fall, the Woodwork Career Alliance of North America rolled out an online training program for accredited skill evaluators (ASE).

The initial thrust of the new program is providing more opportunities for high school and postsecondary woodworking instructors to attain ASE status. By doing so, they are able to use the WCA’s Skill Standards to teach and test their students on a wide variety of woodworking operations from reading a tape measure and basic layout through safely setting up and running a table saw or jointer. They are also able to provide students with the chance to earn a WCA Sawblade Certificate.

Pathways reached out to a half dozen instructors who were among the first to take the online ASE training for their feedback. The consensus opinion was overwhelmingly favorable, further validating the WCA’s investment to offer ASE training online.

Following is a summary of each respondent’s online training experience, as well as why he or she chose to become an ASE.

Noah Werner, the technology education teacher at the School District of Greenwood, WI, teaches woodworking to students in grades 7 through 12.

“These are all high and middle school students, both boys and girls, with a wide variety of skill ranges,” Werner said. “A large number of my students come into my classes with little to no experience in woodworking. I have had a few that had done some work outside of school with a family member or friend but typically this is their first experience in the wood’s lab.”

Werner was the first educator to take the WCA’s ASE training course online. He offered a candid critique of the experience.

“The part that I struggled with the most was the (lack of) instant feedback that is given during a traditional in-person setting,” Werner said. “The other item I missed the most was the ability to see a true professional teach me exactly how they do things.”

That said, Werner opined that the positives of the online training program far outweighed any negatives.

“I could not be more impressed with the online training,” Werner said. “Both of my instructors, Patrick Molzahn and Greg Larson, were top notch and made the process quite enjoyable. I loved the flexibility the online training offered. I could do it on my time, which allowed me to slow down and really understand what the training was all about. I think having a reputable online training option for instructors will allow more instructors to become certified.”

Webster noted that becoming an ASE will help him take his woodworking courses to a higher level. “I am always looking to further my program and provide the best possible experience for my students. Being able to evaluate students for the WCA Sawblade Certificate allows me to provide them with a skill set that is both transferable to an industry setting and sets them up to be life-long woodworkers.

“My focus in all of my class is both career and life ready. I want my students to leave my classes with a knowledge base that will help them with their future careers but also provide them with some skills to make their lives more enjoyable.”

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Staci Sievert is a technical education teacher at Seymour High School of Seymour, WI. After teaching social studies for 22 years, Sievert transitioned into technical education four years ago after the school district was unable to successfully fill the position. She is currently teaching introduction to woodworking through Woods 3.

Asked why she decided to become an ASE, Sievert said, “The more we can get our students’ learning aligned with industry standards the better it will be both for the students and for industry. All tech ed students can benefit from being certified as it means they have met benchmarks for taking accurate measurements and safely running equipment to industry standards.”

Sievert gave kudos to the online ASE training course. “The online training was excellent. Other than my dislike for videotaping myself, it was great.  I could plan the training at night when it was most convenient and my assessor’s feedback –both written and during our virtual meeting — was exceptionally thorough. Our virtual meeting lasted 30 minutes. It was a valuable conversation. I enjoyed the opportunity to ask questions and receive feedback from an expert in the woodworking field.”

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Chris Hedges, was recently hired as program manager of the Cabinetmaking and Architectural Woodworking program that will debut this fall at Hocking College of Nelsonville, OH. He’s been teaching woodworking for 10 years and has also run a custom woodworking business.

Hedges said he decided to take the online ASE training “in order to offer an industry recognized credential to both traditional and non-traditional students.” He added, “I felt it was comprehensive enough to ensure that I have been adequately trained and prepared to qualify potential registrants as skilled users of relevant machinery.”

Hedges said he hopes the new woodworking program will “establish Hocking College as a nationally recognized educational program with a mission that focuses on training both the mind and the hand.”

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Three of the WCA’s newest ASEs – Ron Dorn, Roy Ward and Craig Honeysett — are fellow instructors at Webster High School in Webster, WI.

Ron Dorn

Dorn has been teaching woodworking for 20 years. He said he took the training to become an ASE so that he could offer his more advanced students in the introductory woodworking class he teaches an opportunity to earn their Sawblade Certificate. “I see the certificate as a way for students and programs to set themselves apart,” Dorn said. “The training course showed that the WCA takes great care in precision and safety.”

Ward is a technology education teacher who has taught woodworking for 22 years. He is teaching an introductory woodworking class that occasionally includes a student with a more intermediate skill set. “I liked the idea of students earning a Sawblade Certificate as well as our program receiving CTE incentive grant dollars.”

Ward noted training and evaluating students for the Sawblade Certificate will be limited to those demonstrating more advanced skills and commitment. “We don’t plan on cranking out Sawblade Certificates,” he said. “We are excited though, to be able to do so for the students who deserve the recognition.”

Honeysett is a technology education aide. He’s been a woodworking instructor for five years and like Dorn and Ward is teaching woodworking newbies. “I like the idea of a program that provides the students with both a path to follow and rewards for achieving their goal.”

Honeysett and Ward both cited numerous advantages to online training, including: no travel expenses, no need to take time off, the ability to complete the program at his own pace and the advantage of using Webster High’s woodworking  equipment for the testing component of the ASE program.

 

Asked to point out any downsides to the online training, Ward observed, “We are very competent and comfortable setting up, adjusting and using the equipment. If we were not, it would be very beneficial to have an instructor to show us what to do. When you take a class virtually, you have to find the information versus a teacher presenting it to you. It is also easier to ask in-person versus in an email.”

Learn more about WCA accredited skill evaluators and training.

 

WCA’s New Online Accredited Skill Evaluator Training Opens Many Doors

As part of their online ASE training, candidates watch several short videos and make observations about what they see as right or wrong.

The Woodwork Career Alliance of North America’s online accredited skill evaluator (ASE) training program, which debuted last fall, is a game changer in more ways than one.

For starters, it paves the way for more high school and postsecondary woodworking instructors throughout the United States and Canada to attain ASE status. This in turn opens doors for more students to participate in woodworking programs that incorporate the WCA’s industry-recognized skill standards and credentialing program.

The ultimate beneficiary is the North American woodworking industry. Wood product companies of all sizes and types stand to gain an influx of talented young men and women who have been trained to safely and properly set up and operate equipment based on the WCA’s measurable performance objectives. And while the initial roll-out of the online training program is focused on educators, it will ultimately allow wood products companies to accredit their training personnel as WCA skill evaluators as well.

The Impact of Online Training
Up until now, ASE candidates were greatly limited to when and where the training programs were offered. For example, WCA has traditionally scheduled training at the AWFS Fair in Las Vegas and the International Woodworking Fair in Atlanta. In recent years, several sessions have also been held at The MiLL in Colorado Springs.

One of the reasons Wisconsin has more schools with ASE instructors than any other state is because of the relative accessibility and frequency of training programs conducted by Patrick Molzahn. Molzahn is a WCA accredited chief evaluator and director of the cabinetmaking and millwork program at Madison Area Technical College.

Most instructors of high school and postsecondary woodworking programs are not as fortunate as their Wisconsin peers to have training classes scheduled within driving distance. In addition to the inconveniences of time and place, many instructors cannot afford the costs associated with traveling to a location to get their training to become an ASE. Without the ASE designation, they are unable to enroll their students into the WCA’s Passport credential program that includes evaluating and testing their students to earn a WCA Sawblade certificate and for more advanced woodworking students to work toward their Green credential.

The barriers that have limited instructors from pursuing their ASE status has also reduced opportunities for the WCA to grow its Passport credential program in schools throughout the United States and Canada. The situation became even more pronounced as the novel coronavirus pandemic largely put a kibosh on face-to-face training.

That Was Then; This Is Now
Greg Larson, vice president of the WCA, said the online ASE training program he was instrumental in helping to develop addresses most concerns.

“We were working on the ASE online training program long before the pandemic hit,” said Larson, who is also owner/director of the New England School of Architectural Woodworking. “We knew that we had to make it easier for more educators to take the training.”

“The biggest benefit for the candidate far and away is the ability to get trained anywhere in the world and at his own pace,” Larson said. “We’ve also added more material to the training session, so it’s more in-depth. Plus, the ASE manual is now the online training program. Anyone who is already an evaluator can get access to the training modules just by asking and use them as a reference or as a refresher whenever they want.”

While there certainly are trade-offs between live and online training, Larson said, “I think by far, the positives outweigh the negatives. I know some people will miss the live interaction with the trainer but on the upside we still get the opportunity to see them in action and have a more personal one-on-one interview with them than we could when we had a live session involving a half-dozen or so instructors at once.”

Staci Sievert, technical education teacher at Seymour High School of Seymour, WI, was among the first educators to take their ASE training online. She rated the training program as “excellent” and looked forward to putting her status as an ASE to use in the classroom. “The more we can get our students’ learning aligned with industry standards the better it will be both for the students and for industry,” she said. “All tech ed students can benefit from being certified as it means they have met benchmarks for taking accurate measurements and safely running equipment to industry standards.”

The ASE Online Training Program in a Nutshell
The process of becoming an ASE begins by an educational institution or woodworking company joining the WCA as an EDUcation or MANufacturing member respectively. Among the many perks of the $250 annual membership fee is a voucher for one free ASE training class.

Next, the candidate fills out and submits the online ASE application along with a current resume and two references who can attest to the candidate’s skill set.

Once qualified, the candidate takes the online ASE training course. It consists of 11 modules ranging from what an evaluator is and how WCA credentialing system works through an overview of the WCA’s Skill Standards and how to conduct an evaluation. After completing the 11th module, the candidate takes a quiz.

After passing the quiz, the candidate is tested on measurement operations, including using a tape measure and caliper. The candidate then video records him or herself performing the five tool operations that make up the Sawblade Certificate, including:

  • Jointer – Edge jointing first edge
  • Table Saw – Ripping
  • Table Saw – Edge rabbet/single blade or dado set
  • Portable Hand Sander – Sand solid lumber
  • Drill Press – Drill holes completely through material

The candidate’s video-recorded operations are reviewed by a WCA training coordinator, who also schedules an online meeting to talk to the candidate about his/her application and test results. In addition, the candidate is shown a series of short sample evaluation videos and asked to point out what’s right or wrong in each.

After being formally accepted as an ASE, the candidate views instructional videos about the WCA’s online registry where Passport holders’ credentialing records are maintained. The new ASE’s first official duty is to enter his or her Sawblade evaluation results in the registry.

Learn more about becoming a WCA accredited skill evaluator.

The Importance of WCA Skill Evaluators
Accredited skill evaluators are at the heart of the WCA’s Passport credentialing program. They evaluate the skills of candidates pursuing their credentials based on the WCA’s Skill Standards, recognized throughout the U.S. and Canada. The skill standards cover a wide range of woodworking equipment and operations from using a tape measure and basic layout to running a table saw and CNC router.

High school students enrolled in WCA EDUcation member woodworking programs are eligible to earn a Sawblade Certificate if their instructor is an ASE. In essence, the instructor evaluates a student on his or her use of a jointer, table saw, portable hand sander and drill press. Once the student has successfully completed those evaluations, the student is required to pass an online test to receive the Sawblade Certificate.

More advanced high school students can build on their Sawblade Certificate by striving for a Green credential, the first rung of the WCA’s credentialing program for woodworking professionals. To achieve Green, the student or professional must complete additional machinery evaluations and amass 800 hours of shop experience. Woodworking professionals can progress from Green to Blue, Red, Gold and Diamond.

The individual Passport holder’s achievements, accumulated as skill points, are recorded in the WCA’s online registry. The record of the Passport holder’s skillsets can come in handy when applying for a job within the woodworking industry.

The WCA’s credentialing program brings a new level of professionalism to the woodworking industry.

Metalworking, welding and automotive are among other trades that have developed credentialing programs to recruit, train and retain qualified candidates into their ranks.

 

 

 

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.

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.

 

 

WCA Stakes a Claim in the Yukon

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The Woodwork Career Alliance’s skill standards offer a “common language” for training woodworking instructors to do their jobs better.

Gerry Quarton, the newest chief evaluator of the Woodwork Career Alliance of North America, is bringing the WCA’s skill standards and training to woodworking instructors serving some of the most remote populations of North America.

Quarton is a trades educational consultant contracted by Yukon Department of Education to update curriculums and improve safety at school woodshops throughout Yukon, a vast Canadian territory typified by rugged mountains and high plateaus. The Yukon covers more than 180,000 square miles and, according to Canada’s 2016 census, has a population of only 35,874, 25,085 of whom live in Whitehorse, the territory’s capital.

“The Yukon is still a bit of a frontier lifestyle to a large degree,” says Quarton, who was born in LLoydminster, AB, but has lived and taught woodworking in the territory on and off since the 1970s.

A Man on a Mission
in 2013, the Yukon Department of Education hired Quarton to spearhead projects to increase awareness of careers in the trades. In addition to lending his expertise to improve woodworking shops, Quarton has organized school welding and hair dressing programs. “In the case of woodworking, my first goal was to make sure the shops were safe. I found that many of the machines in the rural schools were 30 years or older. One of the first things we did was to replace table saws with SawStops.”  

Quarton notes, “There are three levels of woodshops in the Yukon. There are the urban ones at bigger schools in Whitehorse that have regular shop teachers. Then there are other schools like in Dawson City and Watson Lake where you have a somewhat bigger population and a woodshop taught by a teacher who has some training. Then we have a bunch of rural schools where the total student population from K to 12 might be 20 or 30. It’s harder to fill those woodshop positions because the teachers also have to teach two or three academic subjects. I’m using the WCA standards to create a common language and standard operating procedures to benefit all of these programs.”

Before taking the consulting job, Quarton was the woodworking instructor at F.H. Collins High School in Whitehorse for 10 years. He has also been actively involved with Skills Canada, currently as president of Skills Canada Yukon, and for many years as a member of the national technical committee and judge of the annual Skills Canada cabinetmaking competition.

Through his role with Skills Canada, Quarton got to know Mick McGowan, a woodworking instructor at SAIT Polytechnic in Calgary, AB, who is also on the Skills Canada technical committee and is a chief evaluator of the WCA. That connection led to conversations and meetings with Greg Heuer, secretary of the WCA.

“I was already familiar with the WCA because we’ve been using the Modern Cabinetmaking textbook for several years and the newest edition has the WCA logo on the cover.” Quarton says. “The whole tie-in with the text book is a real fit with using the WCA standards and credentialing program.”

Teaching the Teachers
Last October, Quarton conducted a two-day professional development workshop in Whitehorse attended by 15 woodworking teachers with a wide range of experience levels, including one from north of the Arctic Circle. The first day focused on measuring and layout. Day two was devoted to the safe operation of table saws and other standard machines based on the WCA Skill Standards.

Quarton followed that workshop with a second training session for eight of the rural school instructors in Dawson City. “It’s a repetitive activity,” Quarton says. “I like to talk about it, show them how to do it, ask them to show me how they do it and then show me again.”

Each of the 15 instructors who attended the fall 2018 workshop was awarded the WCA Sawblade Certificate. Quarton’s next goal is to train them so that they can earn their Green Credentials. For those who are successful, Quarton would like to help them achieve the Blue Credential. In addition, Quarton hopes to introduce the WCA credentialing program to high school students in the future.

“I’ve been shocked by how much the teachers keep asking for more. They are doing this voluntarily; it’s not a term of their employment.” Quarton says. “Some of these teachers are teaching science in the morning and instructing woodworking in the afternoon. They have a really wide range of interests and skill sets. I applaud them for their ability to do many things and do them as well as they can.” 

Award-Winning Program Trains Under-Employed Adults for Woodworking Careers

Celebrating its 25th anniversary, the Greater West Town Training Partnership has helped prepare 900 people for jobs
in the greater Chicagoland woodworking industry.

Students learn various construction techniques making a series of small upper cabinets.

The Greater West Town Training Partnership (GWTP) of Chicago is one of the more unique EDUcation™ members of the Woodwork Career Alliance of North America. The program aims to link the education and training of disadvantaged area residents with economic development efforts and workforce needs of local businesses. 

Since being established 25 years ago, the GWTP has trained and placed some 900 low-income adults with jobs at local woodworking businesses. In recent years, the GWTP has issued a WCA Passport to each of its graduating students. The Passport is the student’s personal record of the woodworking skills he or she has successfully demonstrated during the credential evaluation process.

Doug Rappe, program coordinator and a WCA accredited skills evaluator, has been involved with GWTP since its inception. “Conveniently this program was just starting up as I got back from serving with the Peace Corps teaching woodworking in rural Sierra Leone,” Rappe says.  “I applied and 25 years later, here I am.”

In recognition of his long-standing dedication to workforce development, the Woodworking Machinery Industry Association honored Rappe with the 2014 Educator of the Year Award.

Program Is Free, But Not Easy
GWTP is part of the Greater West Town Community Development Project, a not-for-profit entity that gets its funding from a variety of public agencies and charitable foundations. In addition to woodworking, GWTP offers a hands-on shipping and receiving training program. The two training programs each occupy space in a 55,000-square-foot facility that formerly housed an envelope manufacturer. The building was extensively renovated prior to GWTP moving into it in 2010.

A Weeke Vantech is the centerpiece technology of GWTP’s woodshop.

There is no cost for students to attend the training programs provided they meet the qualifications. “Typically, anyone who is receiving unemployment or some other kind of public benefit can qualify for the program,” Rappe says. “Once we have someone’s interest, we want them to come out to visit us and see the program because when they see it they understand how real it is. They can see the projects that are being made and ask staff and students questions.”

In addition to substantiating their financial need, applicants have to pass a drug test and demonstrate basic math and language skills.

“We really want to make sure that our students are ready to succeed when they graduate,” Rappe says. “I tell them up front that we’re going to give them a lot of hard work to do. This is not open shop time. We make sure they understand right away that they are going to go through this very rigid curriculum and projects. At the end, we’re counting on them taking a job.

“This is almost like a backdoor into the industry that very few people know about or have access to,” Rappe adds. “There is no other place in the Chicago area where you can get this quick, intensive hands-on experience with real up-to-date equipment.”

The centerpiece of GWTP’s well-equipped woodshop is a Weeke Vantech CNC nesting router. “We’re fortunate that over the years our agency has managed things very conservatively so that when we needed to invest in equipment the money was there,” Rappe says. 

Overview of the GWTP Program
The GWTP program typically has up to 12 students per each 15-week session. Students attend class seven hours a day, five days a week. In addition to learning woodworking skills in the shop, students attend classes to learn how to read blueprints, strengthen their math skills and software programming.

Students are given more autonomy on machines after they demonstrate knowing safety rules.

the shop, safety is paramount, especially considering that nearly all of the students have no or little woodworking experience. “We have to get people confident to operate equipment quickly,” Rappe says. “Our safety curriculum revolves around a series of quizzes about the safe operation of each machine. Our students are always very closely supervised but over time they get more autonomy to operate a machine.”

During their first four weeks in the shop, students learn about different wood construction methods by making a series of four small upper cabinet boxes.

“The dimensions and materials for each box are identical. What we change is the type of construction starting with staples and screws, then plate joiner, pocket screws and CNC dowel construction,” Rappe says. “The goal is to give them success right away by making a physical project but also covering a lot of ground without going off in too many directions.”

With each succeeding box, students add new skills like print reading and applying math needed to develop a cut list. “Of course, they learn the technical skills with the tools,” Rappe says. “They typically start with precut parts for the first box. They do some cutting for the second box. Then they cut all the material for the third box and generate all of the material and parts for the next class with box four.”

“The class projects vary, but they are all designed to cover all of the basic equipment: table saw, jointer, shaper and planer,” Rappe says. Students also get exposed to working with a variety of materials including composite panels, wood, and solid surface materials. “Solid surface is great for helping them learn how to use hand-held routers and polishers. My strategy when I think about adding anything to the curriculum is how does it create the most value for our students and their future employers. We don’t want to teach skills that nobody needs.”

“We’re trying more and more to introduce technology sooner so that we can give them more time with the CNC,” Rappe adds. “As an advanced skill it would be easy to save if for the end but we understand that our students can graduate and go to work at any level with a CNC machine. They might be just an operator loading and unloading parts, an intermediate operator who is loading programs and loading parts or someone who is creating programs and editing them.”

Nearly every student who completes the 15-week training program graduates. “Essentially if someone is here every day and working to the best of their ability, then our commitment is to help them get a job,” Rappe says. “If they struggle with certain machines, then we find them an appropriate job. If they are the top their class and they aced everything, then we are going to find them an appropriate job at that level, too. We don’t leave anybody behind. There are employers who happily hire them knowing what they are getting.”

“One of the biggest stumbling blocks that prevents people from making it through the program is organizing their life around it,” Rappe adds. “This is a big-time commitment. It’s 35 hours a week and we demand punctuality and attendance. Probably the number one reason for someone getting separated from the program is they just can’t show up.”

Doug Rappe, who has been the lead instructor of the GWTP for 25 years, fully embraces the Woodwork Career Alliance’s skill standards and credential Passport program.

Proud Member of the WCA
GWTP boasts its membership with the WCA on its website. In addition to receiving a diploma, GWTP grads leave the program with a WCA Passport loaded with points for each skill they have demonstrated through the evaluation process.

“We are trying more and more to align our curriculum with the Woodwork Career Alliance skill standards,” Rappe says. “They are a great teaching tool. We are able to point to a nationally recognized group that says this is the way something is supposed to be done. This is how you know it’s right.

“I think that our students know that while it’s not a ticket to a job, the credentials are another important recognition of their achievement,” Rappe continues. “That in itself is a big deal.”

Being a WCA EDUcation-member also is important to making a favorable impression on the program’s funders. “Being a non-for-profit, it really helps to be part of an industry standard organization. I know that it is a huge deal in the metal working industry and over time I think woodworking employers will come to recognize the WCA credentials more and more.”

“Ultimately what gets me coming back year after year is seeing our students go to work in an industry that I love,” Rappe says. “Seeing them succeed and knowing that Great West Town has helped teach them skills and achieve a career is extremely rewarding.”

Learn more about the Greater West Town Training Partnership.

 

AWFS Webinar Targets Integrating WCA Credentialing in the Classroom

The Association of Woodworking & Furnishing Suppliers presented a March 13 webinar focused on Woodwork Career Alliance accredited skills evaluator training. The webinar featured Patrick Molzahn, of program director of Cabinetmaking and Millwork at Madison College in Madison, WI, ,and Bert Christensen, instructor at Westosha Central High School in Westosha, WI. 

The duo provided useful ideas that educators can use to implement the WCA credentialing system in their classroom. In addition, Molzahn and Christensen discussed the library of videos, training resources, and educational materials that the WCA has assembled to make help woodworking teachers. The webinar is a shortened version of the CWWK Teacher Track session offered at the 2017 AWFS Fair.

View the PowerPoint presentation.