I’m sorry to let everyone know that the Jewelery program here in
Minneapolis has been red flagged. This means that with the latest
decline in enrollment we are facing closure in two years if thing
don’t turn around.I believe we are one of the last true jewelry trade
programs left. We are not an academic metalsmithing program. We have
always been a jewelry industry training program. Our program has a one
year Repair or Manufacturing Certificate, a Deploma after one and a
half years and a two year Associates Degree. Our motto has always been
"Education for Employment".
If some of you don’t know what are school is and has been, let me
explain. Our Minneapolis College (formerly Tech Institute) has had a
metals program since the early 1930’s. In 1955 F.Jules Reed (a fine
silversmith in the old word definition) took over. Seeing that type of
occupation on the decline, he switched the program over into jewelry
manufacturing. He became an administrator and in 1968 Ray Grobe our
areas master platinumsmith / special order jeweler began teaching. Ray
taught from 1968 through 1981, when he retired and went into private
business. Gordon Washura (a student of Rays) taught from 1981 to 1985
and developed the repair focus of the program. I started in 1985 and
brought in my manufacturing background.
We were all hired for our industry background, contacts and
experience. I fear because we are not high tech and academic enough
the college is phasing us out.
Some of the problems we are currently facing aRe:
A good economy. Not as many people attend career based programs
when there are lots of jobs out there.
Our industry has had an exodus of manufacturing jobs. This has
kept our wages fairly low.
A longer apprenticeship and learning curve with wages that creep
slowly upward, but peak at about $17.00 / hour.
College entrance exams that occupation goaled indivuals don’t
want to take.
An Admisions Department not very user friendly (Are any?)
Younger people NOT being encouraged to become jewelers.
Older students expecting to graduate and immediately become
successful selfemployed jewelers.
Education is expensive. Time off of life & work to attend,
transportation, lodging, tuition, etc.
No program budget.
Faculty cut backs.
Massive layers of administration
No support staff.
Our exposure is mainly in the State of Minnesota, not a large
National job statistics have shown a decline in the number of
jewelers across the country.
I could go on and on. I am aware of other concerns in jewelry
education and would welcome any suggestions. I do have a plan that may
help and I will share some of my thoughts shortly.
It’s been a hard week in Lake Wobegon.
All my best regards,
TR the Teacher & Student