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IF IT’S A CRAFT THEN IT TAKES MANY YEARS TO


ACQUIRE THE SKILLS, AND AN APPRENTICESHIP IS A REALLY GOOD LEG UP IN LIFE. BUT WHEN YOU HEAR THAT TESCO ARE RECRUITING LOADS OF YOUNG PEOPLE AND CALLING THEM APPRENTICES, IT CAN DEVALUE WHAT AN APPRENTICESHIP IS


own apprenticeships back to the 15th Century, and as the Centre’s director, Peter Taylor, says: “In lots of ways the government doesn’t like people talking about apprenticeships without being on their framework, but I think since we’ve been doing them for 700 years, we’ve probably got a right to use the word.” He’s probably right, and as one of


the 12 great livery companies of the City of London, and having stood the test of time, the Goldsmith’s Company is an example of where you know what you’re getting when an apprentice completes the process. Furthermore, to be able to take on a Goldsmiths’ Company apprentice, you have to be a freeman of the Goldsmiths’ Company (the oldest of traditions), and that means that by default, you will have done your own apprenticeship in the past, or you will have been ’redeemed’


24 | Jewellery Focus


through the trade. This helps to guarantee the high standards for which the Company is famous. But what if you are an employer


looking to take on someone who has completed their apprenticeship with a master who is not at all well-known or affiliated with any great firmamental guild? How, without a national and historical reputation to go on, can you possibly know by looking at the candidate’s ‘CV’ what standard of skills he or she has acquired? Now that the government plans


to try to pump industries full of apprentices, some are concerned that the standards may not be there. Gregory Fattorini is managing director of Fattorini, which is one of seven firms running a part council funded apprenticeship, in Birmingham’s famous jewellery quarter. He says: “If it’s a craft then it takes many


years to acquire the skills, and an apprenticeship is a really good leg up in life. But when you hear that Tesco are recruiting loads of young people and calling them apprentices, it can devalue what an apprenticeship is.” Of course, his concerns make sense.


Yet Fattorini is not at odds with the new wave of apprenticeships that are sweeping the industry. He currently has a silversmith apprentice working in his business who was placed by Holts Academy, and it’s obviously going well, as he says: “We have been quite fortunate in the choice of apprentice we got – he’s a nice lad and very conscientious.”


THE FRAMEWORK & THE PROVIDERS If the concern about ‘flooding’ the market with apprentices has to do with being able to expect certain standards, then Holts Academy is a good example of how this might be achieved. The Academy is the biggest apprenticeships provider in the industry – there are 54 apprentices currently on their programme at the moment, and ambitious plans to have


jewelleryfocus.co.uk | November 2013





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