MJSA, the alliance for professional excellence in jewelry making and design, has announced that its Mentor & Apprenticeship Program was recently approved as National Guidelines Standards (NGS) by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Apprenticeship. In addition to recognizing the program as a “model” for developing bench jeweler apprenticeships throughout the country, the designation provides a pathway for jewelers who adopt its curriculum to seek national or state registration and access to benefits such as technical assistance and tax credits.
Overseen by the MJSA Education Foundation (the alliance’s 501(c)3 subsidiary), the Mentor & Apprenticeship Program offers a 50-week curriculum that provides step-by-step guidance for mentors to instruct apprentices and help them achieve core competency as a bench jeweler. The curriculum was developed by Nanz Aalund, a jewelry designer and instructor who wrote the award-winning A Jeweler’s Guide to Apprenticeships (MJSA Press), and it was supported by a grant from the JCK Industry Fund. Apprentices who complete it receive certification by MJSA as an Advanced Jewelry Apprentice.
The NGS designation signifies that jewelers can use the MJSA curriculum as an approved foundation for their own apprenticeship programs. If they couple that curriculum with a training component (e.g., classroom instruction or inhouse technical training), those jewelers could then seek to register their apprenticeship programs on either a national or a state level. Registration would, among other benefits, open them to federal funding opportunities, free technical assistance, and, in many states, tax credits.
“MJSA members continue to ask us for help in finding and training workers, and this certification will help them in creating apprenticeships that attract and train the talent they need. The MJSA curriculum allows jewelers to register their own programs more easily, since it’s recognized by the Office of Apprenticeship and state apprenticeship agencies,” says Steven Cipolla, chair of the MJSA Education Foundation.
The curriculum is part of a comprehensive training package that also includes assessment tests, a guide to creating a culture that promotes employee retention, and a list of suppliers offering benches and related equipment. In addition, participants have access to free digital texts and curated videos through the MJSA Online Library.
The MJSA Mentor & Apprenticeship Training Package is currently being offered free to the industry. To learn more, go to MJSA.org or contact Rich Youmans, executive director of the MJSA Education Foundation, at 800-444-MJSA (6572), ext. 3025, firstname.lastname@example.org.