Wonderful, tailor-made products but a comparatively ageing workforce – this, some might say, is a typical British manufacturing scenario. However, thanks to a partnership between local manufacturers, Birmingham City Council’s Employment Access Team and Connexions, help is on its way.
A ‘pre-apprenticeship’ scheme, funded by the Working Neighbourhoods Fund, has been launched to encourage new blood into the jewellery trade. Organisations taking part in the scheme will receive a subsidy to help them continue to provide the highest quality bench-skills training in the workplace, for which Birmingham’s jewellery industry is renowned.
Steve Millington from LJ Millington said: “This scheme is an excellent initiative and will be of great benefit to the small companies and apprentices involved. I’m looking forward to working with our new apprentice and working towards safeguarding the skills which are vital to the future of the Jewellery Quarter.”
Fiona Toye from Toye, Kenning and Spencer said, “This pilot programme is a first step to establishing a sustainable apprenticeship scheme that benefits the trade and I’m delighted that my own company is benefitting from the scheme with a young man starting as an apprentice diemaker.”
Cllr Tim Huxtable, City Council Cabinet Member for Transportation and Regeneration said: “’We are delighted to have joined up with the jewellery trade to develop this exciting initiative which we believe is the first of its kind and is a pioneering approach to keeping some of Britain’s finest skills alive. This is all part of our plans to ensure that Birmingham’s famous Jewellery Quarter has a sustainable future. Everybody has played their part ranging from the heartening response from local manufacturers, The Birmingham Assay Office and the School of Jewellery to our own Employment Access Team and Connexions.”
The Birmingham Assay Office has been hard at work behind the scenes, providing, support, guidance and advice to the participating partners.
- The Jewellery Manufacturers commissioned a Study to identify challenges facing the trade and how to respond to issues which needed to be addressed… tackling skill shortages was seen to be a priority.
- Birmingham City Council’s Employment Action Team has been set up to provide a co-ordinated response to assist employers to source staff, connecting local people with local employment.
- The Working Neighbourhoods Fund aims to provide resources to target and support unemployed residents in areas of high unemployment.
- Connexions aim to bring together young people and employers by providing a free tailored recruitment and consultancy service.
- 6 young people will be employed for twelve months and the Worshipful Company of Goldsmith’s will help to develop the programme into a nationally recognised Apprenticeship. The project will be evaluated, with the aim of mainstreaming such opportunities for the future and bring young people into the jewellery trade.