Back to Ganoksin | FAQ | Contact

Apprentices in Australia finding it hard


#1

Hi Guys,

There are serious events happening in Australia with jewellers
apprentices.

Some of these issues are driving away skilled workers due to
bastardisation. There appears to be no recourse for the apprentices.

That being said, this is a long shot.

Are there any Sydney based jewellers on this list looking for
apprentices?

I’m not asking for myself, I’m asking on behalf of other students in
my class who, for reasons beyond their control felt like they "had"
to leave their employment. I’m asking without their knowledge due to
the fact that they are so jaded with the industry, it looks like they
are going to turn their back on jewellery altogether.

These students are very talented, and if I had the means I would
employ them myself.

If you have any leads that may help these people please contact me
off list.

Kindest regards Charles A.


#2

Well Charles it is hardly surprising, we are in the grip of a major
depression and the trade is suffering particularly as we are a luxury
industry. Our major retailers have done their best to ruin the
industry, debasing it with their continual 50% off sales of what an
English manufacturer, of his own product described as ‘crap’ and
having most of their stock manufactured overseas. I have not employed
anyone in Australia as it would cost a fortune to comply with all the
regulations, not to mention the time. I employed 6 people over 10
years in England, ex art students, several of whom opened their own
businesses. I would love to have spent time to train apprentices in
Australia over the thirty years I have been here, but as a sole trader
the risks were far too great. I have had three young people working
in my workshop over time, but they do their own work, and I give
advice and training where needed. Thats the best I can do.

David Cruickshank
jewellerydavidcruickshank.com.au


#3

Without wanting to delve into the politics and policies of our
leaders which cause increasing on-costs involving in employing staff
one must also wonder at the diminishing need for a jeweller to have
qualified through an apprenticeship. When a bench worker applies for
a position it has been my experience that the little piece of paper
which shows qulification is not as important as being able to sit
down at the bench and the ability to do the job.

It is not a recent phenomenon. When I went through my apprentceship
more than 30 years ago I was employed by a Latvian jeweller in
Melbourne who promised to teach lots of skills but in reality my 4
years was spent in working only in basic silver work and the only gem
in the shop was amber. My “Master” failed to teach what would be
necessary for a well rounded bench worker. At the same time that I
was doing this another apprentice who attended trade school with
mewas employed by a chain maker. The only time he made anything apart
from solder filled wire was in the class. I should point out that
there were other apprentices who were able to develop well rounded
skills - it was the luck of the draw as to who you were able to
secure as your employer.

David’s nurturing of bench workers seems to be able to fill the void
where a lack of apprentices exists without crippling his own
business. Good luck to you all.

Roger


#4

Hi David,

It’s nice to see that you see this too, I was beginning to think I
was just paranoid. I suspect our economy is going to get worse,
currently our dollar is strong, but I wonder what that new tax will
do to us. I keep forgetting that jewellery is a luxury industry, I’m
still stuck in blacksmith/cutler mode.

It shouldn’t be this difficult (imo), to get people trained and
working. I think a lot of apprentices would appreciate advice from
an industry professional such as yourself.

One of the things I like about you, is that you share knowledge,
without expectation.

Kindest regards Charles A.
P.S. I’m still hopeful for my friends.


#5
Without wanting to delve into the politics and policies of our
leaders which cause increasing on-costs involving in employing
staff one must also wonder at the diminishing need for a jeweller
to have qualified through an apprenticeship. When a bench worker
applies for a position it has been my experience that the little
piece of paper which shows qulification is not as important as
being able to sit down at the bench and the ability to do the job. 

Thanks for sharing the story Roger :slight_smile:

The world’s changed a bit. Pieces of paper are considered very
important. It seems that if you’re a very skilled worker, without
that piece of paper you don’t get a foot in the door.

The old days were better in my opinion.

Regards Charles A.


#6

I took up jewellery at a government technical college as a (very)
mature age student in the early 90’s and, unlike many of my younger
classmates, never had the intention of joining the mainstream
workforce, but I sure paid attention to what happened to them once
they finished their three year diplomas.

Of about 20 students, over half were youngsters not long out of
school. Of those, two or three of the best and most talented were
successful in obtaining an apprenticeship AFTER they achieved their
diplomas. One mature age man with a background in knife making and
significantly higher skill/speed levels than the rest of us got
’work experience’ at a well known manufacturing retailer which led to
a permanent job and, eventually, to his being put in charge of the
workshop on his terms just this year - a very significant
achievement! One very talented young woman also got an
apprenticeship and is still working in the industry. Two or three
others either got an apprenticeship or a job at the bench, one
decided she preferred working as a sales assistant for a major
’cheap’n’cheerful’ (for want of a better description) jewellery
chain, and one less talented girl was, the last time I heard, quite
happy working for a power supply company … using her learned
abilities to handle soldering and fine work on circuit boards etc.
The others… I don’t know what they are doing now. Maybe they simply
didn’t have ‘the fire in the belly’ that makes it impossible to do
anything other than persevere!

Roger is absolutely correct when he says “the little piece of paper
which shows qualification is not as important as being able to sit
down at the bench and the ability to do the job.” I sincerely doubt
that anyone with only three years experience/learning/tuition behind
their ‘qualification’ can possibly be quick enough or with a wide
enough level of knowledgeable and experience to be a 'profitable’
full time employee straight off. If a prospective employer can
identify not only current skill levels but an ongoing desire to
learn and improve, and above all that elusive fire in the belly and
desire to make good, beautiful work within a month or so, then there
is the possibility of a win/win situation. Sadly, as Roger also
notes, few small shows have the time, energy or even desire to spend
much time ‘teaching’ even a willing apprentice other than the bare
necessities for their particular niche.

Good luck to all with the fire in their belly, may you find a
nurturing employer!

Jane Walker