Apprenticeships: A Slice of HistoryPosted: 11th of February 2015 by
Apprenticeships are big news right now, with planned reforms to how they operate and the government putting their support behind getting people trained up and ready to work. It may seem that apprenticeships are a new thing, or at least something that has come to the fore in recent years, but actually, apprenticeships have been part of the fabric of our society for centuries.
Of course, hundreds of years ago, there were no nationally organised apprenticeship schemes, and people seldom left their own towns and villages (except maybe to head to market), and were often discouraged from doing so, In fact, there was a time when you could be arrested for being caught on the roads for no good reason. As such, the idea of people seeking a training outside of their local community was rare. However, apprenticeships were still very much a part of life.
Going right back to medieval times, young people would learn a trade or craft as an apprentice to a master. These apprenticeships could take many years – far more than the organised courses of today – with a blacksmith’s apprentice taking some eight years or so to truly master the skills required.
Historical apprenticeships would have included trades like stonemasonry, fletching (making arrows), carpentry, and more. With few universities, an apprenticeship was the primary way to learn a skill for the future – and all craftsmen (and occasionally women) would have learnt their trade under the watch of a skilled master.
Much has changed since those times, and yet the essence of an apprenticeship has remained the same. With a mixture of on-the-job learning and direct teaching an apprenticeship has always offered a solid foundation for a future career.
These days an apprenticeship can be taken in a wide range of subjects which would not have existed some centuries ago, and of course, you are also now free to move around to pursue your goals. However, as a method of learning, there are some distinct similarities between historical apprenticeships and those of today.
By learning a skill in the workplace and putting it into direct practice, an apprentice is taught the correct way to do a job, allowing businesses to train future employees directly. This means that you can save hours by cutting out the process of learning from your own mistakes – instead learning the correct way to do a job right away.
Apprenticeships have formed the backbone of our society for centuries and yet, for many, they seem like a new idea – something which has only really been promoted recently. Perhaps it is because of the recent upsurge in focus on apprentices, or the fact that they are increasingly being seen as a genuine alternative route into employment against the costly, traditional university route?
Whatever the reasons, apprenticeships are a real slice of our heritage, and having worked for generations, there is little sign that they will become obsolete any time soon.
For many, learning the right way to do a job from a skilled master, along with some pay while you learn, isn’t just a relic from the past, but is also a way into your own future.
Why not check out the apprenticeship opportunities right here on NotGoingToUni, and see if you can become a part of the legacy of apprenticeships in Britain:
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