If you want to get into the jewellery industry and start earning money while gaining on-the-job training and experience right away – an apprenticeship could be the right route for you.
According to the National Association of Jewellers, the stats are encouraging for both apprentices and for businesses thinking about offering an apprenticeship.
Of the apprentices that finished an apprenticeship, 90% went on to secure a job or went on to further learning. 88% were in sustained employment and 2% went on to continue their education.
Out of the employers surveyed, 83% would recommend apprenticeships to other businesses.
If you’re a business that wants to offer an apprenticeship, click here to learn more about what’s involved and the support available to you.
What’s involved in a jewellery apprenticeship?
There are many different apprenticeships available, from the equivalent of GCSE to the equivalent of a Master’s degree. Most take 13- 36 months to complete. The type of apprenticeship and level of education achieved will affect the length of your training.
You can start an apprenticeship at any level. Depending on what level you start at, you might need prior experience e.g. GSCE English or Maths.
As part of the apprenticeship, 20% of your time (one day a week if you are doing a full-time apprenticeship) will be taken up with apprenticeship-related study or training. This can be done at a college, university, training provider or can be provided by the business. This involves things like mentoring by your manager, work-based projects, industry webinars, research and assignments
This study will prepare you for the End Point Assessment (EPA), which you must do in order to complete the apprenticeship. This can involve things like a workplace observation, an online test and producing a portfolio of work.
You can read more about apprenticeships on the government’s apprentice website.
‘Jewellery, Silversmith and Allied Trades Professional’
The official name of the jewellery apprenticeship scheme in the UK, as defined by the Institute for Apprenticeships & Technical Education is ‘Jewellery, Silversmith and Allied Trades Professional’.
This reflects the range of functions and skills that make up the jewellery manufacturing in the UK, including:
- Lapidary – selecting, cutting and polishing precious and semi-precious stones
- Casting – forming moulds and working with molten precious metals to form shapes
- Stone setting – selecting and fixing stones into a form and ensuring they are secure
- Mounting – creating parts of jewellery to which precious stones are fitted
- Engraving – using tools to create patterns, including text, images and intricate patterns
- Enamelling – working with enamel to create coloured patterns, images and finishes
- Polishing and finishing – applying different processes and materials to produce a polish and shine to an item or highlight a special finish
- CAD/CAM – working with designers to produce model forms for manufacturing
What would you actually be doing as an apprentice?
The core focus of a jewellery apprenticeship is to give you experience of using hand and powered tools and equipment effectively and safely, helping you understand how to work with designs and specifications and giving you experience of how to work with different materials.
Typical day-to-day duties may include:
- Obtain and understand the requirements of a design
- Working with CAD designs
- Operation of equipment to produce items using CAM machinery
- The cutting of metals to given shapes and designs
- Working with hand tools and machinery to derive a range of different finishes and patterns
- Production of items in wax for casting
- Casting items in precious metals
- Working with enamels to achieve required finishes
- Selecting and setting precious stones
- Polishing and finishing items
- Examine finished jewellery and/or silverware products for quality;
- Repair and/or rework jewellery and/or silverware items
Who is eligible?
To be eligible for an apprenticeship, you must be 16 or over and not already be in full- time education. However apprenticeships aren’t just for school leavers or people starting their career, you might be looking to change careers or upskilling in your current job.
How much does an apprentice earn?
For the first year of your apprenticeship, you’ll be paid the apprentice minimum wage. Once you’ve completed your first year, your pay goes up to the minimum wage for your age group:
|23 and over||21 to 22||18 to 20||Under 18||Apprentice|
You’ll also get holiday pay, bank holidays and sick leave. You can find more information about apprenticeship pay and rewards here.
How do you find an apprenticeship?
There are lots of organisations that offer apprenticeships.
- British Academy of Jewellery offers apprenticeships in London or Birmingham
- The Goldsmiths Company offers 3-5 year apprenticeships within the workshop of a goldsmithing business
- The Government’s official apprenticeship website offers a list of currently available apprenticeships
- Indeed lists currently available jewellery apprenticeship opportunities
What If I want to offer an apprenticeship?
If you’re a business that wants to offer an apprenticeship, there are a few things you’ll need to know.
Your apprentice must be over 16 years old, they must be paid the minimum wage and at least 20% of their time with you will be devoted to training or study, however this can be related to your business.
Government funding for jewellery apprenticeships
There is government funding available to help with the cost of training an apprentice.
For example, you may be able to get £1,000 to support your apprentice in the workplace this can be put towards training or for other costs.
Your apprentice will just need to be either:
- 16 to 18 years old
- 19 to 25 years old with an education, health and care plan
- 19 to 25 years old and they used to be in care
You can view all the options for apprenticeship funding here.
If you want to hire an apprentice, but don’t know where to start, here is a good guide on how to write a job ad.
Once you’ve found the apprentice you want to hire, an apprentice agreement must be set up.
If you don’t want to train the apprentice yourself, there are training agencies that can undertake it for you.
For more information on all aspects of apprenticeship, whether you’re looking to become one or hire one, visit apprenticeships.gov.uk.