Key priorities for 2021

Protecting the interests of our members and the wider woodworking and joinery manufacturing sector has always been the guiding principle of the BWF's work. Last year the COVID-19 pandemic threatened livelihoods and created unique and complex challenges, and we worked hard to ensure we provided practical guidance for our members, as well as a voice for the sector. Although the pandemic will continue to create challenges throughout 2021 (as I write this column we have just entered another national lockdown period), there are learnings and subsequent optimism that we can take from the last 12 months to help our sector continue to develop and grow stronger.


Collaboration with the wider industry
While the pandemic shook the construction industry, causing it to shut down in a way not known in modern times, it had the positive effect of bringing our sector and the wider construction supply chain together for the first time in a long time. The wider construction industry response was coordinated through the Construction Leadership Council (CLC) and BUILD UK, with specific groups feeding information to them.

Through these channels, the BWF was able to represent the woodworking and joinery manufacturing sector, ensuring our members' views were taken into consideration when it came to challenges such as tackling product availability and site operating procedure challenges.

This collaboration and the formal channels of communication were vital to the immediate recovery following the March lockdown and clearly demonstrated that the construction industry can overcome major challenges by working together. My ambition is to ensure this collaborative approach remains intact so that even when the pandemic subsides, we can work better together for the benefit of the entire timber supply chain.

New regulation on the horizon
For our manufacturing members, the UK's exit from the European Union brings with it one of the most significant regulatory challenges that our sector has faced in years – the introduction of UKCA (UK Conformity Assessed) – which will apply to most goods currently covered by CE Marking. This puts extra pressure on our sector, with manufacturing businesses who are already time-poor having to try to find the time to unpick complex rules and guidance.

We stand ready to help our members navigate this change. With a last minute trade deal agreed, we have begun working on simple-to-follow guidelines and plan to host interactive webinar sessions to help our members understand the new regulations and how they can ensure that their products conform with them.


Focus on skills & development
Supporting career development, skills retention and attracting new talent to the woodworking and joinery manufacturing sector remains a priority for the BWF, and we mustn't let external events deter our vital work on this. Ongoing training and development remain fundamental to the growth of our sector.

To help BWF members train their staff and raise skill levels, we will continue working with partners to provide access to quality training provision and funding.

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