The NAJ Education team are on hand to help you make progress with your jewellery journey, whether that be as an employer or an employee. You may be looking for something different to the Jewellery Education and Training (JET) programmes the Association delivers for the jewellery industry, so it's always a good idea to contact team who can provide you with information, and sign post you to providers that can help, even if the Association can't.

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The NAJ mythbusting guide to Jewellery Apprenticeships

This helpful mythbusting guide has been produced by the Education team to make sure your understanding of Apprenticeships in the UK is right up to date, and you're informed as to where to go next.


The mythbusting guide is also supported by Babington who provided information for NAJ members through a webinar (Summer 2020).


Apprenticeships are only for 16-18 year olds

This might have been true of apprenticeship schemes 30 years ago, but these days apprenticeships are open to all age groups, from 16 years to retirement!


Apprentices have to be new employees of my company or organisation

You can take on new employees and train them in their role using the available apprenticeship schemes, but also use apprenticeship schemes to train and upskill your current staff.

So, you might wish to expand an existing staff member’s role into a new area; you might want to prepare them for career progression or promotion, or perhaps use an apprenticeship to formalise/professionalise staff learning in a particular area.


Apprenticeships are best for developing ‘low level’ skills and knowledge

Apprenticeships are available at all levels from Level 2 to Level 7.

To gauge what the levels mean: Level 2 is equivalent to GCSE and Level 7 is equivalent to a Masters degree.

So, in fact, staff can progress through and attain very high levels of specialist skills and knowledge through apprenticeship training programmes.


I can’t afford to recruit/train an apprentice

There’s lots of Government funding available for apprenticeships as it sees apprenticeships as a key approach for training-up the workforce of the future.

A large company (over £3m payroll) pays the total cost of the apprenticeship training through its apprenticeship levy. When the levy runs out, the Government will pay 95% and the company needs to pay the remaining 5%.

Small companies that don’t pay the apprenticeship levy, pay 5% of the cost of apprenticeship training and the Government pays the remaining 95%. In some Council areas apprenticeship levy transfer schemes are in place – if bigger companies cannot spend their apprenticeship levy, they may be prepared to transfer it to smaller companies to help them pay for apprenticeship training.

Small companies with less than 50 employees are also eligible for a grant of £1000 towards the cost of recruiting a 16-18 year old apprentice.


Apprenticeships take years to complete

Apprenticeships usually last between 13-36 months. The length of an apprenticeship can depend on whether an apprentice is employed part-time or full-time, as well as the level and complexity of the apprenticeship training programme. For example, apprenticeships that require the development of a raft of technical skills, such as the Jewellery Manufacturing and Allied Trades Professional Apprenticeship, may take slightly longer.


Apprenticeships aren’t available in `professional’ areas

Apprenticeships are available in all areas, including accounting, marketing, leadership and management and HR, as well as retail, customer service and jewellery manufacture. Some apprenticeships incorporate professional qualifications that enable successful apprentices to join professional societies such as the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants or the Chartered Management Institute.


Apprenticeships focus on developing technical skill

Apprenticeships also focus on developing key knowledge and behaviours; at the end of their programme apprentices will be able to undertake their daily tasks more effectively, and also have more understanding of the context of their job (e.g. why it is done as it is and how it impacts on other job roles and the broader business). They will have developed the appropriate soft skills and behaviours – interpersonal skills, team skills, numeracy etc.


I can’t spare my apprentice to attend college or day release once a week

Apprentices do need to be able to spend 20% of their working week working towards their apprenticeship. However, this time does not necessarily need to be spent away from the business on `day release’. The 20% can include coaching and mentoring by the line manager, work-based projects, peer discussion and independent research and reading, as well as webinars/online tutorials, off-site workshops, case studies and tasks, assignments and preparation for End Point Assessment (EPA).


An apprenticeship isn’t a rigorous training for the job

It’s extremely rigorous! Apprentices will receive high-quality training from industry and sector-specific experts, as well as one-to-one coaching and support from the apprenticeship training provider. Once they’ve achieved all elements of the apprenticeship, and the training provider and employer agree that they’re ready, the apprentice will be put forward for EPA. Depending on the particular apprenticeship, EPA might include an online test, professional discussion, production of a portfolio of work and a workplace observation.