The wood products industry needs skilled workers. Why? Four reasons:
- Technological Advances
The wood products industry is in the midst of a technological revolution. Plants are renovating. New high-tech machines are coming fast and furious. Companies need employees who can operate, install, fix and dream up these machines. And, of course, these machines are all computerized. In fact, everything is computerized. In this industry, you have to ship, draft, design and sell on computers. And that takes skill.
- Declining Timber Supply
Let's face it. The timber supply is not what it once was. Companies are being forced to do more with each log, in order to maximize both the wood and their profits. Many companies are starting new value-added initiatives. And they need employees who can help ignite these initiatives and make them a success.
- Remaining Competitive
Technology and the declining timber supply are forcing companies to change. If they don't, they won't survive. They have to be more innovative and more competitive.
They have to be smarter.
And that's why they want an educated work force. People who can adapt and think. People who can help keep these companies profitable for years to come.
- Shortage of Skilled Workers
There quite simply aren't enough skilled workers to go around. The stats back it up and the anecdotal evidence is huge. At the University of British Columbia, wood processing students are getting 6 or 7 job offers in their third year. Imagine that.
The Job Descriptions
There are no job postings here. What you’ll find are lists of jobs. We’ve got a lot more specific job information at our other website, careersinwood.ca.
This list covers careers in both primary (sawmills) and secondary manufacturing (all others). We also include careers in supplier companies, those that sell goods and services to wood products companies (ie. equipment suppliers, consultants, etc.).
Many of the job titles sound similar but the levels of responsibility can change drastically. Primary operations tend to employ more people. Some have several hundred employees. Secondary manufacturers are often much smaller. Most have fewer than 100 employees.
There are many ways to categorize these jobs. We've chosen to place them under five main headings:
Managers run the show in any business. They have the most responsibility. And they usually make the most money and have many different titles such as…
- General Manager
- Quality Manager
- Engineering Manager
- Sales Manager
- Planning Manager
- Marketing Director
- Advertising & Trade Show Manager
- Director of Operations
- Manager of Logistics and Systems
- Plant Manager
- Assistant Manager
If they are managing a primary sawmill their job will be radically different than if they are overseeing a small furniture company or equipment supplier. But in each sector, managers are ultimately responsible for:
- hiring and training staff,
- providing leadership and direction to the company,
- ensuring they have enough timber/raw material supply,
- developing, selling, producing and shipping product,
- planning and overseeing renovations,
- finding new and better ways of doing things,
- and turning a profit.
Clearly, this is too much work for a single individual. Managers must delegate responsibility. And thus, the supervisor was created.
Supervisors usually oversee the day to day running of the operation. Their titles range, as do their areas of responsibility. A sawmill will have (among others):
- Quality Control Supervisor
- Finishing End Superintendent
- Yard Supervisor/Foreman
- Quality Process Coordinator
- Maintenance Superintendent
In small secondary plants, the number of supervisors drops rapidly but you'll find:
- Quality Control Supervisor
- Capital Project Safety Coordinator
- Production Supervisor/Manager
- Turning Room Supervisor
- Shop Foreman
- Yard Lead Hand
- Supervisor Trainee
- Maintenance Supervisor
In primary and secondary operations, skilled tradespeople work directly with both supervisors and the production crew. They are the people who fix, build and maintain machines, electrical systems, air systems and energy systems.
A sawmill will employ many skilled tradespeople, particularly millwrights.
A small secondary plant, on the other hand, may have only one millwright. They might also have a journeyman carpenter. Other skilled trades would likely be brought in on a contract basis.
Equipment manufacturers hire skilled trades people to build and install their custom machines. And it's got to be done right. Because if the machine doesn't work right, the plant can't produce product right and everyone loses.
Skilled tradespeople have usually undergone a four-year apprenticeship training program. And they are paid well because they are experts. There are many skilled trades such as:
- Cabinet Maker
Skilled tradespeople are vitally important in any operation. Good maintenance, efficient installations, and timely repairs can save a company a lot of money.
Because when a machine breaks down, production stops and everybody loses money!
Production workers are the heart of any primary or secondary wood products operation.
That's because they are the ones who actually make the products. They operate the machines. They move wood through the production line until it becomes a finished product. They package the product and mark it for distribution.
Many of these jobs involve using computer controlled equipment. Companies need employees who can program and trouble shoot with these machines to keep them operating at maximum efficiency.
In sawmills, you'll find jobs like...
- Kiln/Energy System Attendant
- Planer Operator
- General Labourers
- Forklift Operators
In secondary plants, the positions vary drastically depending on what product is being made. You'll find:
- CNC operator
- Machine Operator
- Optimizing Saw Operator
- Moulder Operator
- Finished Product Grader
- Packager/Charge Hand
- Forklift Operator
- Lathe Technician
- Tennoner Operator
- Fingerjoint Operator
Production workers these days are constantly adapting to new ways of doing things. Machinery is changing rapidly. It's becoming more computerized and increasingly sophisticated. The industry is in the midst of a technological revolution and that means companies need a lot more professional and technical expertise.
These are the people who help companies stay on the cutting edge. They are found in primary and secondary operations, as well as in companies supplying goods and services to the industry. They are experts in their field.
These people are in demand. They include...
- Computer Expert
- Salesperson/Marketing Expert
- Communications Expert
- Forest Renewal Supervisor
- Transportation Coordinator
- Personnel Manager
- CNC Programmer
- Product Planner
- Furniture Engineering Draftsperson
- Production & Freight Coordinator
- CAD/CAM Operator
- Statistical Analyst
- Project Manager
- Mechanical Engineering Technologist
- Customer Support Representative
- Mechanical Engineering Designer
- Service Technician
- Field Service Representative
- Technical Applications Specialist
- Administrative Assistant
People in these types of positions have generally taken additional education and training beyond high school. They are well paid for their expertise and initiative.
As you can see there are many career opportunities for skilled job-seekers. For more in-depth job profiles and to see job postings go to careersinwood.ca.