Surfboard shaping is seen by many as an art, a craft, rather than a profession. Those in the industry have been doing it for years, and the shortage of new shapers makes it a challenge to keep up with the demand for their services.
In New South Wales, that could be changing, as a first batch of apprentices have entered a pilot program to make shaping a qualified trade.
Adam Wessell, owner of Glass Lab in Tweed Heads, will be overseeing their training. He is optimistic about the move and speaks of the need for more professionalism in the shaping industry, the need for a more respected image to attract the younger generation to the field.
Wessel believes fresh blood will give more depth to the existing workforce. He also says the lack of skilled sanders and glassers on the Gold Coast is making it necessary to work rotations, and increasing prices. A course that will give young kids many of the necessary skills and knowledge before entering the industry will fill an urgent need, and save employers having to extensively train them themselves.
Training NSW’s Damon McCarthy says the program has seen growing interest since it was first announced last October. Three people have wanted to sign up in Victoria, and some have asked about experienced individuals getting qualifications.
McCarthy feels that the official enrollment of the first apprentices will encourage more young people to enter the industry. He hopes employers will help that happen by sharing their knowledge and having a recognized training structure for trainees to build their abilities faster and get recognition for those skills.