London Assay Office to shape new apprenticeships

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Goldsmiths’ Company dubbed a trailblazer for jewellery sector.

The Goldsmiths’ Company Assay Office has been dubbed an ‘apprenticeship trailblazer’ for the UK jewellery sector by the government.

The accolade was given at the start of National Apprenticeship Week, which began on March 3 and runs until March 7.

The Goldsmiths’ Company’s Assay Office, which operates a counter in London’s Hatton Garden, has been invited to develop new forms and standards for craft apprenticeships that reflect employer’s needs.

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The group will work to draw up an apprenticeship framework that can be applied to a wide range of craft apprenticeships – hallmarking among them – that are not currently recognised and approved by government.

Apprenticeships have long been part of the Goldsmiths’ Company Assay Office’s operations, with indentured hallmarking apprenticeships ongoing for centuries, with many senior members of staff taking this path into the industry.

The Assay Office’s programme currently enables individuals to train in hallmarking, with the scheme managed by the Goldsmiths’ Centre, the charity specialising in the training of professional goldsmiths, silversmiths and jewellers. At present, the Goldsmiths’ Centre is currently responsible for 24 apprentices, each specialising in skills such as engraving, diamond mounting, polishing and silversmithing.

Dr Robert Organ, head of the Goldsmiths’ Company Assay Office said: "This is the first time that we have had the opportunity to engage with government apprenticeships and we look forward to contributing to this project. By sharing our expertise and helping to shape the future of apprenticeships, we hope to grow and improve the training opportunities available for future British hallmarkers, jewellers, silversmiths and allied tradesmen."

Hallmarking apprentices train for four years, working with both traditional and modern processes including hand and laser marking, laboratory work and customer service.

They are also day released to the Goldsmiths’ Centre in Clerkenwell, London, where they experience a range of technical skills relating to jewellery-making and silversmithing. At the end of their training, the apprentices produce a "masterpiece" to demonstrate all aspects of their craft and their portfolio of work for their City & Guilds Licentiateship qualification.

The Goldsmiths’ Centre director Peter Taylor added: "The Goldsmiths’ Company Apprenticeship Programme is at the cutting-edge of training in the sector and we have a great deal of knowledge and experience to offer, both within and beyond our trade."
 

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