University vs apprenticeships: why not both?

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Sara Lois on why students should prep themselves for life after study.

By Sara Lois

On reflection of Robin Bell and Harriet Kelsall’s opinions on jewellery education surely a mix of both academic and practical experience is the best solution.

It goes without saying that I am not suggesting being a full time student and an apprentice concurrently, as this would be impossible. But perhaps a year in industry or similar could be adopted into jewellery university courses as is common in many other industries. This way the benefits of both avenues can be harnessed.

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I was interested to read the opinion that university tends to result in jewellery designers while apprenticeships results in goldsmiths. This may be fine for large companies that can afford to separate these two functions but what about the numerous self-employed jewellers who need to be proficient in both? Surely the general aim should be to gain a well-rounded skills base no matter the chosen career path.

It is easy to place responsibility on the universities themselves to prepare students for the real world, but should it all be placed on them? Shouldn’t students take the responsibility onto themselves to make sure that they are readily equipped for what awaits them post-graduation? Be that through self-education or the numerous short courses and work experience opportunities available to those who look for them.

I am writing as a graduate who would have been one of those who couldn’t make a simple ring if she hadn’t used her initiative to gain some practical bench experience. For me, university is what you make of it.

Sarah Lois is a Welsh jewellery designer. She graduated from Bangor University in 2011 with a 1st class degree in Product before setting up her workshop in her home village on the Llyn Peninsula.
 

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