The Oakwrights Academy of High Performance Oak Framing
Applying to become a member of the Oakwrights Team
A collection of thoughts and guidance from Bill Keir (Oakwrights Commercial & Operations Director)
“There are plenty of people who are attracted to oak framing, trying to find their way into the industry, looking to get a foot on the ladder. As a potential employer, what we are primarily looking for is a good attitude and a burning interest, all things Oak Framing & Timber Building. Everything else can be taught, but any prior experience or relevant skill is a bonus.”
Here is an insight into the Oakwrights approach:
The Academy of High-Performance Craft
All inductees join the production team on the shop floor learning exactly how we do things – gaining an essential insight into how we construct the Highest Quality oak frame structures in Britain.
Working hands on learning the craft will take a minimum of 6 months but is ideally 12 months to 2 years. There is a lot to learn and a lot to absorb before we teach you The Craft of Business.
There are 4 areas of hands-on learning:
The Machine Shop
There is a £120,000.00 planer feeding 2 CNC beam processing machines (one of which was the world’s most complex for nearly 10 years and would cost over £1M to replace at today’s costs)
These machines take the digital output from the Design Department and deal with around 80% of the complex joinery used to joint the timber frames.
The Oak Framing Workshop
The output from the Machine Shop is fed into the Oak Framing Shop, where a team of skilled Oak framers do the remaining work to the timbers. This can be adjusting the housings and joints, scribing in the curved members, cutting chamfers and many other hand-finished embellishments.
This all culminates in the assembly (‘Dry Fit’) of the Oak frame; all the frames, walls, trusses, and roof planes are put together flat to make sure it all fits.
The Oak Frame Encapsulation Workshop
The third production area is the Encapsulation Shop. There are two Oakwrights enclosure systems - Wrightwall Natural & WrightWall Light. We take a further digital output from the Design Department and use another CNC machine to assemble these enclosure systems in frames. The last of our computer controlled machines are then used to fill the panels of the WrightWall Natural system with recycled cellulose (to provide the insulation).
The Site Teams
As you become familiar and competent with the production process you will move to the ‘Make & Take’ phase; this is where you work on the Clients project in production then join the team who erect the Oak frames and panels on site. Some people find the whole erection process very exciting, and opt to move to the site erection teams. They travel all over the UK (and all the offshore islands too, Isle of Man, Channel Islands) erecting frames and enclosing them. Some people prefer to become ‘Inners and Outers’ doing the ‘Make & Take’.
Career progression at Oakwrights
All of this hands-on practical experience will give you a unique insight into how the process works, and how the company works, and why everything has to be done to a high standard. By using your time at the sharp end to observe all the different roles available in the company (while not being under any pressure) you can decide which area might suit you best – and wait for an opening.
We always like to recruit from inside the company and there are a whole range of roles to which you could progress.
These include (but are not limited to – and not in order, but are available within the 2 divisions of the Company):
Team Leader (production – Encapsulation or Oak Frame)
Quality manager (production)
Site Team Foreman
General Design / Graphics / IT / Marketing
Hear Alex Edey's story and find out the experiences and developments he's obtained at Oakwrights so far.
Business as a Craft
We also recognise that Business is also a Craft, and unlike many companies that are run for short term gain, we are planning for the future, planning for the succession, even looking at a 50-year business plan (quite common in German Carpentry Companies).
To this end, we have ten people who have recently passed gained a University Diploma in Leadership and Management from the University of Worcester (which if they hang on for the full five years will lead to a Degree in Business Management). The cohort of ten has been drawn from a diverse cross section of the company, from an Accounting Apprentice and Site Foreman to Heads of Department. We have sent people to the Cranfield School of Management; to fulfil Construction HNCs & HNDs; CPD and accreditation courses for our Architects and Technicians; Chartered status for our Structural Engineer – the list goes on and the training continues to maintain Oakwrights as the most forward thinking company in the Industry.
We are currently looking to recruit our Annual Summer intake of Trainee Frame Designers. If you want to work for an exciting company that is always looking to the future, your future!
If you think you are up for the challenge, looking to start your career in the property design world or just fancy yourself as the next superstar oak frame designer – get along and visit our Vacancies Page…