New Mentor & Apprenticeship Program Will Feature First Nationally Recognized Standards
MJSA, the trade alliance dedicated to professional excellence in jewelry making and design, is developing a new program to help jewelry manufacturers, designers, and retailers overcome one of their biggest problems: attracting qualified workers and training them.
The MJSA Mentor & Apprenticeship Program aims to counter the industry's acute labor shortage—aggravated this past year by the "Big Quit"—by reviving a once-vital pathway to careers in jewelry making and design: the apprenticeship. Under the auspices of the MJSA Education Foundation, the program will provide the tools needed by businesses to bring on apprentices and train them properly, with the first nationally recognized standards and procedures.
Initially, the program will focus on developing tools for the position most in demand at the moment, bench jeweler. Working with recognized educators and other industry experts, MJSA will develop the first Competency-Based Occupational Framework (CBOF) for apprentice bench jewelers. Pioneered by the non-profit, nationally renowned Urban Institute (urban.org) in collaboration with the U.S. Department of Labor, CBOFs have been created for various industries, from hospitality and health care to advanced manufacturing. They essentially describe the functions of a specific occupation and lay out nationally recognized standards that apprentices must reach to demonstrate core competency.
The development of the CBOF will be led by jeweler/educator Nanz Aalund, author of the award-winning MJSA Press book A Jeweler's Guide to Apprenticeships. She will build upon that book's content—which provides best practices for finding, hiring, and training apprentices—by listing the specific steps necessary for competency in all areas of repair and fabrication, from piercing, filing, and torchwork to finishing and polishing. Online tutorials will also be curated and created to show shop owners how to implement the steps safely and easily.
In addition, MJSA has enlisted the help of industry consultancy Hill Management Group and its CEO/president, Andrea Hill, to aid in the program's development and create a searchable database of mentors and apprenticeships. To further foster connections, prospective jewelers can register with MJSA and be added to the database, enabling shop owners to search for suitable candidates.
The program is supported by a grant from the JCK Industry Fund. The mission of the JCK Industry Fund is to support the jewelry industry’s long-term success and growth by providing grant funding to organizations with the vision and programming to drive sustainable improvements across the industry.
"We're grateful to the JCK Fund for providing the foundational support needed to get this important program underway," said MJSA President/CEO David W. Cochran. "I've heard from so many members how hard it's been to find and train the help they need—some have said it's the number-one threat to their business. Our goal is create vetted resources that jewelers everywhere can easily use to ensure both their and the industry's continued vitality."
To learn more, e-mail MJSA or call 1-800-444-MJSA (6572), ext. 3025.