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Apprentices, what next?


#1

Here in the US, where jewelers do not follow a formal program
defining apprenticeship, what is the “graduation” to the next step?
What should the next step be called? Please help me find the right
words.

Traditionally it was “apprentice” to age 21. “Journeyman” after that
if you worked for wages and “master” if you had your own shop. In my
situation there are two women in their late 20s who have each been
working for me full time for 4 years. I feel it is time to recognize
that they no longer beginners, but “journeymen” is a bit of a gender
mismatch for girls.

This is really all about marketing and employee moral and
motivation. For my customers, telling them that a mere apprentice
will be working on their job sounds like they are being foisted off
on a lesser craftsman. I want my customers to be reassured that their
work is being done by someone experienced and accomplished. I also
want to publicize their advancement and milk it for whatever free
publicity I can get from the local newspapers and on FaceBook. As far
as motivation goes, I think the pride and recognition that the
apprenticeship has been successful is a good thing and it emphasizes
that now that they are a full-fledged professionals the quality of
work needs to always reflect that. As a goal, it also serves as a
good incentive and motivation for the next apprentices.

I am planning an exhibition of the apprentices work next month that
will celebrate and publicize their promotion. I could use any help I
can get with appropriate language to describe this. I am struggling
for two terms. One that will describe their new status and another
word or phrase for the event when they graduate.

Thanks,
Stephen Walker


#2

I don’t know how to answer the question about what to call them, but
I know you’d do wonders for their moral by giving them the raise
they deserve.


#3
In my situation there are two women in their late 20s who have each
been working for me full time for 4 years. I feel it is time to
recognize that they no longer beginners, but "journeymen" is a bit
of a gender mismatch for girls. 

Well, you’ve just said they’re in their late 20’s, so they’re not
really girls either, are they?

I’d take Journeyman. Assistant Jewelers? Junior Benchies?

I love your idea of the exhibition and “graduating” them. Journeyman
is fine, there’s a history there, the relationship to Apprentice.
Otherwise, graduate them to full jeweler, since you’ve said they can
do everything.

Elaine
CreativeTextureTools.com


#4

Hi Stephen,

We’re called goldsmiths where I work. What about a hybrid term like
professional jeweler/goldsmith?

good luck!
Kim Nogueira
kimberlynogueira.com


#5

How about bench jeweler, jeweler, metalsmith, goldsmith, engraver,
caster, jewelry artist, etc. Journeyman seems to me to reference
trades such as plumber or electrician- this is just my opinion as I
understand it could be defined as someone who completed an
apprenticeship. Did you offer a program for apprentices or did you
hire them as inexperienced? If you feel they have master the subject,
you could call them “master jeweler”, although that may not be seen
as appropriate by other jewelers… Just my passing thoughts upon
reading this,

Melissa


#6

Mr Walker,

Forget all the crapola, just call them associates.

Ron


#7

Stephen,

Traditionally it was "apprentice" to age 21. "Journeyman" after 
that if you worked for wages and "master" if you had your own shop.
In my situation there are two women in their late 20s who have each
been working for me full time for 4 years. I feel it is time to
recognize that they no longer beginners, but "journeymen" is a bit
of a gender mismatch for girls. 

You can recognize and promote their accomplishments by calling them
journeywoman. I doubt that term will be a negative for them when
accompanied by change in compensation and a show, celebration of
their work. By celebrating their accomplishments you will be
publicly recognizing and communicating to the public, your clients,
that these people have the skills to really address their needs.
“Meet the artists, journeywomen” event would be a good marketing
event to communicate that along with some promo in the local papers,
TV stations and as well as the various social media.

Pat Gebes


#8

It sounds like these 4 year apprentices are goldsmiths now. That is
how I would refer to them.

Michael David Sturlin
michaelsturlinstudio.com


#9

If you are going to use the term “journeyman” shouldn’t that also be
in the correct context? My understanding of the journeyman was for
the recently qualified apprentice to hit the road for at least 12
months and not come home until he had completed his “journey” with
other tradesmen.

Roger


#10
If you are going to use the term "journeyman" shouldn't that also
be in the correct context? My understanding of the journeyman was
for the recently qualified apprentice to hit the road for at least
12 months and not come home until he had completed his "journey"
with other tradesmen. 

I am not going to kick them out. They have spent some time at the
New Approach School for Jewelers in Virginia Beach, but other than
that I need them to show up for work. Historically when an apprentice
turned 21 years old they were free to go and the master was no longer
under an obligation to feed and house them, so many young men hit the
road for some independence and adventure. But I think the term
"journeyman" comes from “jour” for "day and basically meant
day-worker, a man who worked for daily wages.

I think we are going to simply call them goldsmiths or jewelers and
avoid any kind of term of rank. But we still want to acknowledge the
promotion. “Graduation” does not really work because it implies that
they are leaving. A big part of publicizing this is to emphasize the
skill of the people who work for me. No one’s training is ever really
done, but at this point they deserve to be vested with some kind of
professional status.

Stephen Walker


Andover, NY


#11

We have a good system over here in the UK. Our goldsmith’s,
silversmith’s and jeweller’s apprentices can be officially
indentured as apprentices via a ceremony at the Goldsmith’s Hall in
London. Then after they have served their apprenticeship term, they
attend another ceremony where they are given their freedom from the
indentured apprenticeship. At this ceremony the apprentice shows
their “Masterpiece” to prove to the Officials at the ceremony that
the apprentice has learned their trade. After the ceremony the
apprentice is made a freeman of the Worshipful company of Goldsmiths
and also has the right to claim the Freedom of the City of London.
Along with these ceremonies they are presented with documents and
certificates that prove they have completed an official Goldsmith’s
Company indentured apprenticeship. I completed asix year indentured
apprenticeship as a goldsmith and gained my freedom way back in
1967.

Peace and good health to all.
James Miller FIPG


#12

Hi Stephen

What about the word commendation to recognize their accomplishments.
It still leaves room for more reasons for commendations and after
all, it has worked for the military for a long time.


#13

To all:

Here’s one more definition.

In the mid 70’s I apprenticed in a jewelry manufacturing shop in
Minneapolis Minnesota.

At the time there was a Jewelers Union in several of the trade shops
around town. These were both repair and manufacturing shops that were
primarily wholesale businesses. The Union was there from the late
30’s until its end in the mid to late 80’s.

The “Journeymen” (and women I might add) were paid on a four year
pay schedule. Right off the street was minimum wage. I made a bit
more graduating from the Minneapolis Technical Institute Jewelry
Program. This was for a trial period of at the most six months. It
was then a percentage each year until the top pay was reached. The
first year after the trial was 60% of Journeyman’s wage, second year
70%, third year 80%, fourth year 90% and 100% after that. The title
was time and skill related. The top pay was negotiated every other
year with small increases every time. There were some who would get a
bit more that the Journeyman’s wage if they were exceptional
craftsmen. Some could also jump ahead in pay by being really good.

There was as much as three weeks of paid vacation and profit
sharing. The whole industry shut down at the end of June for vacation
and came back to prepare for the holiday season. There were no sick
days. If you were sick you were out the pay.

I don’t know if things are any better today or not. Medical
insurance is such a big concern nowadays.

Best regards,

Todd Hawkinson
www.southeastmn.edu/jewelry


#14

Dear James,

What wonderful history within your system!

I wish there were some way a candidate could submit a "masterpiece"
and receive some sort of acknowledgment here in the US.

There are many “Masters” I have known, but for lack of structure
have no acknowledgment.

Best regards,Todd Hawkinson
www.southeastmn.edu/jewelry


#15

I recently faced exactly the same thing Stephen. I just printed up
new business cards with their name and asked them what they wanted
printed on them as their job title. One chose “Goldsmith”, the
other, “Bench Jeweler”. I’m cool with either one. The biggest thing I
did though was to increase their pay (and gave them some cash) to
reflect their new status.

Dave Phelps


#16

Todd,

I wish there were some way a candidate could submit a
"masterpiece" and receive some sort of acknowledgment here in the
US. There are many "Masters" I have known, but for lack of
structure have no acknowledgment. 

If there was a similar one for fabrication, casting, repousse,
chasing, engraving, etc., I would sign up for it - even though I’m
just a beginning hobby jeweler.

http://www.ganoksin.com/gnkurl/14v

David

PS - I would build a website to support such a group if it was
considered my fee to participate. While I’m a novice jeweler, I’m
pretty darn good at software.


#17
Then after they have served their apprenticeship term, they attend
another ceremony where they are given their freedom from the
indentured apprenticeship. 

How long is that apprenticeship?

I like that idea of “freedom”. Unfortunately the calligrapher has
already done up the certificates for this class of apprentices,
otherwise I would figure out some way to work that into the language.

Thanks to all for the feed-back on this subject.

Stephen Walker


#18

Goldsmith’s apprenticeships in the UK

Stephen asks “how long is that apprenticeship” Times and conditions
have changed over the years, but when I became an apprentice, the
length of my apprenticeship was calculated to finish on my 21st
birthday, so as I started just after my 15th. birthday, my
apprenticeship length was a couple of months short of six years. The
Goldsmith’s Company now operate a scheme of grants to companies who
take on indentured trade apprentices. Here is a reference from the
Goldsmith’s Company pages that gives current apprenticeship

http://www.ganoksin.com/gnkurl/152 (PDF file)

#search=“apprenticeships” The trade is shrinking over here in the UK,
with many of our old and treasured goldsmiths and silversmiths
manufacturing companies closing down, which means less and less
opportunities for apprenticeships. When I started in this trade the
price of gold per ounce was less than half of today’s price per gram
and some of the items that I made twenty years ago have a higher
scrap value now than the prices they were sold for. Such is this
financial mess the world is in!!

Peace and good health to all.
James Miller FIPG


#19
I am struggling for two terms. One that will describe their new
status and another word or phrase for the event when they graduate. 

I like “Ascension.”

“Apprentice X has Ascended to the Rank of Goldsmith”

“Join us to celebrate the Ascension of Apprentice X as she joins our
family as a capable Goldsmith in full.”

Classy.

Willis


#20

You might call them artisans as that is a noble job description.