The Abbey Newsletter

Volume 1, Number 4
Apr 1976

Unofficial Apprenticeships

Since most employees here work at most of the jobs in the shop sooner or later, and actually receive a fairly well-rounded training, it seems that they should receive some sort of certificate or standard letter of recommendation when they leave here--something like the Certificate of Approval issued to people who have completed government-regulated or union-administered apprenticeships. It also makes sense to see that a planned and well-balanced program of training is carried out, so that potential employers would know what the person's background was. If the person had no certificate to show, it would mean they did not know enough binding yet to say they had been trained here.

The state and federal governments and various unions can administer or regulate official apprenticeships in book-binding, but the employer has to set up the ?program in Michigan at least. We have of own program, a 3-year or 6000-hour apprenticeship in hand case binding, and one apprentice, as far as I know the only bookbinding apprentice in Michigan. He is a little over one third the way through his program.

Many people confuse apprenticeships with on-the-job training in a trade. What makes the difference is the commitment to a planned training program of a definite length, with regular pay increases and with journeyman status at the end of it. This is a good arrangement but it would be a better one if we were not limited to having only one apprentice at a time. Several other people in the shop are getting comparable training at the same time, but with less regulation and recognition, which seems somehow unfair. Anyone who goes through two or three years in our shop has been through an awful lot and deserves at least a medal. If their experience and training have been systematic, they also deserve a certificate of some sort even if it can never be a government-issued one.

If the certificate is to have any meaning to other employers or customers, it will have to communicate a certain recognized level of expertise in case binding. This will depend partly on our reputation and partly on the content of the training program, which is in the planning stage, but which is bound to reflect pretty closely the mix of work in the shop at the time of the training.

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