The timber construction industry is very broad and offers many different career opportunities; as with any career, having the required skills to execute different tasks helps you to get ahead.

By Dineo Phoshoko | Photos by Learn to Earn

The course also teaches students good housekeeping practices.

The course also teaches students good housekeeping practices.

Doing a woodworking course is a good way to start out in the industry, according to Herman van Boom, woodworker trainer from Learn to Earn. Woodworking skills should not be taken lightly as the skills obtained in a woodworking course can be used in different timber related applications such as cladding and building roof trusses.

Learn to Earn is a skills development and job creation non-profit organisation that seeks to develop people especially unemployed people – socially, economically, emotionally and spiritually. The skills development centres are based in the Western Cape’s Khayelitsha and Hermanus. According to Van Boom, the timber industry is currently under a lot of strain with seven local Cape Town based companies having already closed this year. Many suppliers indicate that they anticipate an upsurge in the industry now that South Africa’s General Elections are behind us.

Here is what Herman van Boom has to say…

After completing the woodwork course, what career options are available?

There are employment options in the manufacturing industries such as the manufacture of office furniture, domestic furniture, customised home installations, board component supply companies, shop fitters, furniture repurpose business or re-workers.

How sustainable are these careers?

These industries all have seasons, when the one quiets down the other seems to gain momentum.

Students are exposed to various machinery during the woodworking course.

Students are exposed to various machinery during the woodworking course.

Can the skills learnt during the woodwork course be used in other industries apart from the timber industry?

Yes, the machines used in the timber industry are larger versions of machines used in furniture industry. Learners who complete the course would need to be coached and exposed to these machines in conjunction with an experienced person.

What is the success rate of the students upon completion of the woodwork course?

The graduates of this course either open up their own businesses installing kitchen and bedroom cupboards in their communities or go into the workplace. Here they find employment in companies manufacturing wood-based items or in local timber suppliers. Employment opportunities available do depend on what is currently happening in the industry.

Please give some information about the course.

The course material is taken from the official learnership programme of the Forest Industries SETA (now incorporated within the Fibre Processing & Manufacturing or FPM SETA) and is adapted to suit this short course. It prepares students to either go on a learnership, or to be skilled enough to seek entry level employment in the woodwork and cabinetry industry. The theory and practical projects prepare students to become employees as well as equip them to become self-employed. The course is accredited by the FPM SETA as NQF Level 2.

Performing breakout operations is among the skills learnt during the course.

Performing breakout operations is among the skills learnt during the course.

Learn to Earn woodwork course outline

  • Perform breakout operations
  • Produce basic hand-crafted furniture
  • Produce machine sanded timber and board product components and products
  • Produce planed timber product components and products
  • Produce sawn timber and board product components and products
  • Produce straight laminated timber and board components
  • Apply health and safety standards to a work area
  • Comply with good housekeeping practices
  • Read and interpret basic engineering drawings

Offered: Learn to Earn Khayelitsha

  • Entry Requirements: Grade 10
  • Course Duration: 19 weeks full time
  • Cost to student: R750
  • Cost to Learn to Earn: R23 200 to train one person, which is funded by donations from corporates and individuals. As a Level 1 BBBEE entity Learn to Earn can offer companies a comprehensive, simple and meaningful way of improving their company’s B-BBEE scorecard. The organisation is also a registered Public Benefit Organisation (PBO), so a section 18A tax certificate can be supplied for donations to the organisation.

Training is conducted in line with Learn to Earn’s philosophy of development. With its motto of ‘a hand up – not a handout,’ Learn to Earn seeks to develop people, especially unemployed people, socially, economically, emotionally and spiritually. The vision is ‘to eradicate unemployment and other legacies of injustice in South Africa and Africa’. Through providing a programme that recognises human dignity and the human right to live a meaningful life, with the aim to assist individuals to regain their self-respect. This is done by empowering them to provide for themselves and for their families.