The last guy I interviewed is 40 years old with a wife, kid
and a sucessful career. Dumb sob wants to become a goldsmith and I
may just hire him because he understands that he will have to make
a sacrifice to get where he wants to be. He asked me why I bother
with this whole apprenticeship idea. Couldn't come up with a good
answer. Damned if I know. Maybe I need a good chriopractor.
Seems like you may have just answered your own question. I hired a
guy who was a ceramicist, slightly over 40, and you’re right, it
took around 6 months before he started to cover his own wages, and it
took a lot of my time away from my work to train him, but I have no
regrets about the decision. I just had a woman, I’d guess mid 40’s,
from a medical background come to me looking for a job. I’d send her
to you but I know she’s committed to staying in the area, kid’s in
our great schools, cheap housing, etc. I don’t have the money for
another hire, but I’m keeping her resume. I sent her to my
competition. He’s got a great shop, but is notoriously stingy with
wages and tends to run his business like a sweat shop. She could
get some good training there, or it could discourage her entirely.
Maybe I’ll see her again.
My point is, there are good possible hires where you might not think
to look. People with other professional skills who want to change
careers may already have developed the patience to learn things that
take time and discipline. I’d get the word out to the local colleges,
especially any community college that has a jewelry class. And poking
around any local craft fair might be worthwhile. There are people
going out on their own, breaking even doing an occasional show, just
to pay for the privilege of doing something they like. They might
jump at the chance.
But I believe that if you don’t start nailing their feet to the
floor with an upwardly mobile wage and constant challenges and
learning opportunities, they may leave and they won’t necessarily be
giving you the honest to God truth about why they’re moving on. My
people don’t get paid huge bucks, but since they’re part time, I give
them total flexibility on their schedules, and they get to see every
aspect of how my business runs, so they know what the business has
for its priorities. Nobody is getting screwed so I can buy a bass
I’ve been raising their pay consistently, and I’m constantly working
with them to improve their skills. They’d never see these kinds of
wages for any other part time job and they tell me, this is the first
job they’ve have where they didn’t have to deal with a level of
"toxicity" in the workplace. Mistakes are tolerated, (sometimes even
encouraged!). I tell them, if you don’t want to do something, please
don’t. We’ll get it done another way. We believe in getting smarter,
no trying harder, yet we all seem to be doing our very best and we’re
very busy. And our income keeps getting better and better. Go figure.
Best of luck.
David L. Huffman