The need for training in many traditional crafts has received a good deal of attention recently. It certainly applies with hand engraving. The Hand Engravers Association is working to ensure that the skills of our craft are passed on to younger generations. This is a difficult task; with many of our craftsmen nearing or past retirement age, there is an ever diminishing number of true craft masters willing and able to teach, and there is urgent need to replenish the craft base within the UK. In addition, schools and colleges across the UK are reducing or stopping craft courses altogether, and government support for heritage craft training is insufficient or non-existent in many areas.
Taking on an apprentice is a huge responsibility, requiring time, patience, and a vast support network for both the engraver and the apprentice. Government bodies need to take into account the expense to businesses of taking on an apprentice – which is vital for the survival of the craft, but unsustainable for the generally quite small businesses that populate this trade – and they need to gain a better understanding of this unique and intricate form of specialist training, which varies from craft to craft.
The Hand Engravers Association is developing an apprenticeship scheme in partnership with the Worshipful Company of Goldsmiths aimed at young persons aged 16-21 who wish to have a career in the craft. This will be a full time course of training under an experienced Master lasting 3-5 years. The Association’s main objective is to implement a plan that will appeal to both employers and apprentices alike. This approach is important in order to encourage new young people into the trade that will develop a love for, and stay committed to, this wonderful craft, and to encourage engravers to pass on their knowledge. For more information about the scheme, or if you would consider being a Master or an apprentice, please contact us.