TDUK moves to set skills agenda for timber construction

Timber Development UK (TDUK) has signed a strategic partnership with Edinburgh Napier University and the New Model Institute for Technology and Engineering (NMITE) to improve knowledge and skills in timber design and construction.

The partnership will see Edinburgh Napier University – a leading technical research institute for timber engineering and design – produce a written library of technical documents which will be made free to all TDUK members.

It is widely recognised that there is a ‘knowledge gap’ for specification of timber products among trainee architects, engineers and related studies. To close this gap, TDUK and Edinburgh Napier University are working together to create a knowledge library consisting, from launch, of 150 reports authored by leading wood science and timber specialists. The library will cover information about timber supply, design considerations and building techniques with the goal of providing architects, specifiers and engineers with all the information they need to put timber at the heart of projects.

This will be a rolling contract which will see the library expand and develop each year with the aim to create the largest, most comprehensive technical timber information resource in the UK – if not the world!

In addition, the Knowledge Database will be used to underpin and inform a set of short practical courses being developed by NMITE’s Centre for Advanced Timber Technology (CATT) in partnership with TDUK.

The ‘Timber TED’ (Technology, Engineering & Design) courses will create comprehensive and flexible upskilling and reskilling training for modern methods of timber construction. Learners will gain specialist timber construction knowledge and skills for the built environment, focusing on “better, faster and greener” delivery.

TDUK chief executive, Dave Hopkins explained:

“With ESG pressures mounting in boardrooms, it is clear that increasing the use of timber in architecture and construction can provide a very positive contribution towards achieving our Net Zero goals. It is also my belief that the specifiers of the future will need a better understanding of wood and timber if they have any chance of hitting the ever more demanding carbon targets for construction. Our partnerships with Napier and NMITE will help set the timber skills agenda going forward and will provide the underpinning specification knowledge needed to achieve this.”

NMITE Chief Academic Officer, Professor Beverley Gibbs commented

“NMITE champions student-centred learning and a curriculum fuelled by real-world challenges, and our approach is distinctive in higher education and attracts a wide range of learners. Consistent with NMITE’s core principles, these courses have been conceived and will be delivered in partnership with external stakeholders. Partnering with TDUK and Edinburgh Napier will create the enabling conditions to stimulate collaboration across the industry vertically (seed to end product) and horizontally (architecture, construction, digitalisation) whilst showing an upcoming generation of professionals how rewarding a career in timber can be”.

The first phase of the Knowledge library is due to go live in the autumn of 2022. The TED short courses – aimed at engineers, architects and technical design and sales operatives within timber manufacturing firms – will start in September 2022.

Commenting on the Knowledge Library, Kirsty Connell-Skinner, Sustainable Construction Partnerships Manager at Edinburgh Napier University said:

“This partnership demonstrates Edinburgh Napier’s commitment to timber engineering education. With increasing momentum to tackle the climate crisis, ensuring our future workforce is skilled in the benefits of using timber solutions is vital. This knowledge library further enhances earlier investment by HCI Skills Gateway in a national timber competency framework and will give students access to information about supply, design and techniques to encourage more use of timber in construction projects.”

TDUK will be sponsoring the Timber Expo and Sustainability stage at UK Construction Week at the Birmingham NEC in October. You can also find out more here.