Skills & Sustainability – Joinery

SkillsOne finds out how the joinery category of the WorldSkills competition is become more environmentally sustainable.

Westside Joinery is a small, family run business. There will be a number of machines which will be used to create windows and door frames. Using timber is not about killing trees and hurting the environment, we learn from Steve, the owner of the business.

About Steve:

Steve is still hands on in the business because of the number of staff – he does quotes, purchasing, machining and joining. He loves the hands on side of it because at end of the day in an office he might reduce paperwork but with this work actually producing a physical product – trolley load of material cut and profiled for example. Steve thinks that’s why so many people are attracted to manufacturing - pride in creating something each day.

Steve has been involved with WorldSkills for the last 15 years. He got a phone call from a TAFE college asking to donate some material and then asked to judge given industry experience. He then went from regional judge to regional designer, national judge to national designer etc. In Nov ember he went to Japan as Australia's expert. Steve says that it’s terrific to watch other people’s apprentices performing and growing.

He loves how they go from being just an apprentice to become such a well-rounded person – shoulders broader, handshake is firmer, life experience which WorldSkills offers is priceless. It’s a long term experience for everyone still get enjoyment out of it years later.

About Westside Joinery:

Steve’s dad started the business 38 years ago and he joined it 35 years ago. The company primarily makes window, doors and door frames out of oak and cedar however they also make other unusual bits and pieces such as wooden screens for screen printing.

They have a third year apprentice called Matt who has previously competed in WorldSkills (came second in the Victorian competition). Matt will be used as a test pilot by Steve to ensure that the tasks required for the competition are achievable within the time frame.

Joinery is distinctly different to cabinet making and carpentry trades. The industry is now becoming even more specialised as they are now streaming apprentices into making stairs solely. He says joinery is the best one of all because it is the one which is mostly machinery operated.

The wood arrives from around the world as raw sawn items. They take the rough, splintery material and make it into smooth shapes, create different end sections, cut to special size, put together and then ship out. When people build their home they have an idea of how they want things to look and then make their decision for windows based on that.

A green decision is one of the areas they have to think about. However people like to follow the original style of the house so it’s definitely not a dying industry. New houses are only a small sector of the market.

About Green WorldSkills:

In an effort to address challenges around environmental sustainability and skills Dusseldorp Skills Forum (DSF) & WorldSkills Australia (WSA) are working together to make the 2008 WSA National Final Competition as environmentally friendly as possible and showcase aspects of skills & sustainability.

All the Project Designers of the WSA National Competition categories have been approached to see where they can introduce real & relevant sustainable initiatives; from the design of the project to procurement of materials and including the testing & measuring of the trade skills of the young skilled competitors.

There are many stories about the sustainable actions & skills already undertaken within trade categories and new steps to be introduced and they will be captured and shared via multimedia.

About Eco Skills Teams:

For the first time ever in the WorldSkills movement, nationally and internationally, the ecological footprint of a WorldSkills competition will be measured to provide a benchmark for future WSA Australia competitions.

Young TAFE & University students will be trained and skilled as part of an Eco Skills Team that will gather data and benchmark the Nationals. This activity will provide WorldSkills Australia with the blueprint for continuous improvement around total event sustainability in future years.

With the continued focus on environmentally sustainable practice WorldSkills Australia will lead the way in encouraging young trades people to adopt smarter, more informed and sustainable ways of working.

VJ Bradley Conomy