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Articles from EDUCATION / TRAINING (185 Articles)

Ewen Ryley
Ewen Ryley

The future of a traditional apprenticeship

As apprentice numbers drop, there isn’t much motivation for young people to undertake a jewellery apprenticeship. The low award rate is not incentive enough which means that young people can be deterred from pursuing a career in jewellery.

While the introduction of university courses in jewellery manufacture and design now offer a viable alternative to the traditional apprenticeship, they do so in ways that can be more financially, emotionally and physically demanding for the student, especially if attending from regional areas.

The need for top-quality training should be a high priority for Australia, given the increased amount of poor-quality imports coming into the country. Exceptional craftsmanship and recognition of our talented jewellers is pivotal for the success and strength of the Australian jewellery manufacturing industry.

Technology is rapidly catching up with jewellery manufacturing. Computer Aided Design (CAD) is developing in leaps and bounds with its accuracy and time saving properties. There have also been advances in printable metal technologies that essentially eliminate the need for casting jewellery, and touch probe scanners have been introduced to plot the perfect fitted wedding ring.

Any apprentice-based training program needs to keep up with such technological advances and the demands of the modern jeweller in order to retain its credibility in the industry and compete with other training options.

Most universities offer a three to four-year full-time degree that addresses both jewellery manufacturing and jewellery design, making these course options more popular.

University graduates come out of these jewellery courses with seemingly diverse skills and design abilities, but are they better equipped to the modern age of manufacturing than traditional jewellery apprentices?

A strong brand in jewellery is the current trend and, despite the strong debate, I think university graduates adapt better to this wave of branded jewellery, given their vast skills and abilities with design manufacturing. In saying that, I am a strong advocate for manufacturing jewellers.

They have first-hand experience with consumer interaction and I believe they are more skilled and knowledgeable when it comes to matters of design and manufacturing; however, the lack of advanced training in Australia’s jewellery industry is something that needs treatment. Setting is a prime example of a specialised part of the industry that requires more education and priority.

The prospects of a pre-apprenticeship course, new certificate IV and the advanced diploma in Jewellery Manufacturing are huge! Not only will it help produce skilled tradespeople, but it could potentially iron out who is in fact best suited to the jewellery industry.

In order to see such changes in jewellery education, the JAA needs to step up and be proactive towards its outlook, despite the obvious funding issues with such training courses. It is the figurehead of our industry and needs help in producing adequate advanced training for its members. The JAA needs to create more effective marketing strategies, to obtain more youth into the industry and form better public awareness of our quality-crafted, Australian-made jewellery.

I launched a new Facebook group in June called the Young Jewellers Group (YJG) in response to the call-out for young jewellers to be more active in the industry. As a group we network, and share ideas, pictures and just about anything in relation to our trade. We are lucky in that there are experienced and influential members of the industry just a few clicks away.

The YJG Facebook group has steadily grown in popularity and is fast approaching 300 members. Because of the strong increase in members, we identified a need for a web-based group and Brett Low and I have developed an exciting new initiative called Jewellers Collective.

This website, which will be in association with the YJG was based on the same principles of the YJG, but in a more organised and manageable environment. It will be a fantastic tool and source of knowledge for not only the youth of the jewellery industry, but for the more experienced members of the trade. Watch this space for an official launch date of

Ewen Ryley is a handmake jeweller, and works for Stephen Dibb Jewellery in Brisbane.

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