by Karl D. Forth
Event connects the classroom
with real industry experience
Joint effort between Herrick & White, WMIA, Skills for Rhode Island’s Future and
industry suppliers demonstrates possible career paths.
There are great employment opportunities in millwork, cabinets, furniture and woodworking.
A recent event organized by industry,
associations and education delivered that
message to high school students.
The idea for the event was developed
by Chris Hofmann, Woodworking Machinery Industry Association’s Education
Committee chairman and U.S. Lamello
product manager for Colonial Saw.
WMIA organized the event with the help
of Skills for Rhode Island’s Future, and
Herrick & White, a Cumberland, Rhode
Island, manufacturer of architectural
millwork, which hosted event.
Initially, Hofmann wanted to develop
a live trade show-type event. “When I was
appointed chair of the WMIA Education
Committee, I had a vision for developing
something like a condensed trade show
environment that would involve voca-
tional high school students, educators,
hopefully parents, industry vendors, and
all the while also be centered around
an engaging tour of a contemporary,
dynamic shop,” he said.
“We found a great partner in Herrick
& White to launch this concept for our
inaugural event and I couldn’t be more
pleased with the outcome. Feedback
from the students and educators was terrific. By introducing the students to the
shop environment, industry vendors, and
post-secondary woodworking schools, we
gave them a great cross-section of many
available opportunities all in the span of
about two hours per school.
“We have been working with schools
over the past several years, bringing in
student interns for the purpose of bringing youth into the industry,” said Ken
Bertram, president, Herrick & White.
“Primarily kids are guided towards
college,” he said. “The schools have had
their vocational programs decimated by
budget cuts so the kids that actually want
to pursue a vocation don’t get the level
of experience necessary or the build-
ing (of) enthusiasm for the trade.” Also,
there are career opportunities available,
such as supervision, engineering, esti-
mating, project management, account-
ing, sales and marketing.
Five schools participated in the event. Eighty
students that toured the shop.