MJSA, the trade alliance dedicated to professional excellence in jewelry making and design, has launched the MJSA Mentor & Apprenticeship Program, an initiative designed to revive a once-vital part of the jewelry industry’s recruiting and training regimen.
The program is being spearheaded by the MJSA Education Foundation, the alliance’s 501(c)3 subsidiary that supports training and career initiatives for workers throughout the industry. It will enable businesses to transfer knowledge while also showing younger workers a recognizable career path.
“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,” says David W. Cochran, MJSA president/CEO. “This program provides them with the support and tools they need to offset this threat.”
The program currently offers a free package of tools for training bench jewelers, who are in demand across the industry. Those tools include:
- A 50-week curriculum with step-by-step guidance toward achieving core bench skills, based on the industry’s first Competency-Based Occupational Framework (CBOF). Pioneered by the nationally renowned Urban Institute in partnership with the U.S. Department of Labor, the CBOF breaks down the functions of a bench jeweler into specific skills and competencies.
- A free copy of A Jeweler’s Guide to Apprenticeships, the award-winning book by Nanz Aalund, a jeweler/educator who also developed the curriculum and CBOF for the Foundation.
- Assessment tests that businesses can use when choosing apprentice candidates.
- A brief guide to creating a culture that promotes employee retention, written by Andrea Hill, president/CEO of the industry consultancy Hill Management Group.
- A list of suppliers of benches and related equipment to help outfit a shop for an apprentice. Several suppliers offer discounts to program participants.
- Access to the MJSA Online Library, which offers curated instructional videos and downloads showing best practices for various bench skills.
- Mentor Support resources to help mentors hone their training skills and bring out the best in each apprentice.
The package was vetted by a task force of renowned industry educators, jewelers, and leaders. In addition to Aalund and Hill, it included Ann Cahoon, jewelry department head, North Bennet Street School, Boston; Ronda Coryell, a JA Certified Master Bench Jeweler and one of the world’s most well regarded experts on Argentium; Mark Hanna, chief marketing officer of the Richline Group and a leading advocate for sustainable practices; Lee Krombholz, owner of Krombholz Jewelers, Cincinnati, and vice chair of the MJSA Education Foundation; Charles Lewton-Brain, a master goldsmith, author, and educator who won Canada’s highest honor for craft, the Saidye Bronfman Governor Generals Award; Anthony Mock, a custom concierge jeweler and owner of Mock & Co., Monroeville, Pennsylvania; Alan Revere, author, educator, and designer who ran the Revere Academy of Jewelry Arts for nearly 40 years and was recently elected president of the American Jewelry Design Council; Adrianne Sanogo, a GIA Graduate Gemologist and education chair for the Black in Jewelry Coalition; Joanna Joy Seetoo, program manager of jewelry manufacturing arts at GIA, Carlsbad, California; and Karen Smith, award-winning designer and founder of We Wield the Hammer, a metalsmith training program for women and girls of African descent.
The program was funded in part by a grant from the JCK Industry Fund, the mission of which 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.
Additional supporters include Blackstone Industries LLC/Foredom Electric/Handler Mfg., Gemological Institute of America (GIA), Gesswein, and Rio Grande.
Registration is now open for both mentors and apprentices. To learn more and sign up, go to mjsa.info/apprentice.