Inverness College UHI has developed the very first bespoke saw doctor qualification in Scotland in partnership with the BSW Timber Group.
The college has worked with some of the most experienced saw doctors in the country to develop the new qualification for the highly specialised traditional skillset, which up until now has lacked any formal training structure.
Saw doctors are vital to the running of a modern sawmill, with the role combining traditional hand finishing skills with the use of modern computer numerical control (CNC) processing technology.
The university currently works with BSW – the largest sawmilling company in the UK – to deliver modern apprenticeships in a range of disciplines, including engineering maintenance (mechanical and electrical), which allows its employees to combine work-based learning with study over four years.
Latterly, BSW has provided its own in-house saw doctor training, complemented by external supplier courses, to its saw doctor trainees on modern apprenticeship pathways.
Development of the new qualification means all BSW saw doctor training will now be delivered through Inverness College UHI, with assessments taking place in the workplace.
Kate Ellistone, Inverness College UHI business solutions co-ordinator, said: “This is essentially a bolt-on to the current modern apprenticeships we provide, which will allow all training to be delivered through Inverness College UHI and provide parity for all BSW apprentices. The course has been developed in partnership with experienced BSW saw doctors to create a structured, fit-for-purpose qualification which can be studied in tandem with the existing engineering maintenance modern apprenticeship or in its own right over 18 months. On completion of the course, students will receive a joint Inverness College UHI/BSW certificate.”
Inverness College UHI now plans to seek Scottish Qualification Authority accreditation for the qualification, which will be delivered at SVQ Level 3. The university is also working closely with other employers to roll out the qualification to the wider industry in Scotland.
Tony Lockey, BSW Timber Group’s learning and development manager, said: ‘’This new and exciting course is something our industry has been desperate to receive. We have developed this with our close training partner Inverness College UHI to allow our employees to be trained and to qualify in a very technical and specialised area of engineering. We are looking forward to having our apprentices and existing staff on this course. We are also excited that this course will be initiated in time for BSW’s and the UK’s only female saw doctor apprentice, Katie Martin, who works in our Dalbeattie Mill and will be one of the first to be signed up to this course.’’
Inverness College UHI currently delivers training to 11 BSW modern apprentices at its sites in Boat of Garten and Fort William. The saw doctor qualification will be available at all BSW sites across Scotland. The company currently has a workforce of more than 500 employees.