Lumber grading training creates opportunities for workforce

By: Hannah Scott, OCDC Program Manager
 
In 2010, the forest products industry employed close to 12,000 people in southeast Ohio and contributed over $511 million dollars in labor income alone to the region.  The importance of the forest and wood products industry to the region prompted the OSU South Centers Business Development Network, in conjunction with the National Hardwood Lumber Association (NHLA), to host two Lumber Grading Short Courses over the summer of 2015. More than 30 participants in the NHLA-taught courses learned the basics of hardwood lumber inspection and received hands-on grading training; skills that will help them as they pursue opportunities across the forest and wood products industry or work to improve their company’s processes to become more profitable. 
 
Most of the course participants were current employees of local lumber businesses; however, a few of the attendees were local high school students interested in the forest and wood products industry as a career opportunity. 
 
Participants who successfully completed the course received the NHLA lumber grading certification; a certification that is highly regarded in the lumber industry.  Previously, this training and certification was only offered several hours away from Pike County which made it hard for employers and employees to participate.     
 
Business development specialists at the OSU South Centers worked with the Appalachian Partnership for Economic Growth (APEG) to secure reimbursement grants to cover the costs of the workforce development training through the “Make It In America” grant program. The cost of the training was covered for approximately 25 of the 32 participants through the program.  
 
The success of both courses has prompted the OSU South Centers Business Development Network to make plans to offer the course on an annual basis and will return in 2016. You can read more about the June training in the Pike County News Watchman at http://bit.ly/1FFe4H3. 
 
 
*Image from lumber grading workshop is by Stephanie Stanley, Pike County News Watchman.