Bringing apprenticeships up to date

19.01.2011 01:00

In aworld where most parents aim to get their children into university (and out),apprentices, once the mainstay of most European professions, are amuch-underestimated breed. What is an apprentice? It depends on the perspectiveof the asker. To some, it may be a young person who left school early, with noprospect of going to university, and the avowed aim to enter a profession. Toothers, it may simply be the backbone of the economy. After all, a society madeof academicians and nuclear scientists would easily perish for want ofelectricians and plumbers.

Thebusiness world is surprising to most of the people who enter it for the firsttime; in ancient days, apprentices would enter training into early childhood,and be well-experienced by the time they reached the next rank, the rank ofjourneyman. An apprentice was a promise, a child taken in by a mastercraftsman, who learnt their trade from him until they took their firstindependent steps into their own professions. But in our own exalted, modernsociety, the rank is simply that of a very junior employee. The quasi-paternallink between apprentice and master is broken, longer studies are much moreprevalent, and society as a whole, quicker to differentiate between a studentand a worker. As a consequence, these young people are caught in an unhappylimbo, where they must be professional adults at a time when many of theirpeers can remain teenagers, and play childish pranks with no thought as to theconsequences.

It isdifficult, although many apprentices find their way eventually. Such issues canbe addressed through time and experience, and especially, through makingcopious amounts of mistakes. Of course… if there were a possibility forapprentices to learn these rules of professional interaction at the same timeas their trade… they would be able to position themselves in their professionalframework without making all of these mistakes: a net gain for themselves, andfor their companies, as well, since these would be able to train them fasterand better.

In all,the initiative of the Gradwohl firm, which sent its apprentices (or Lehrlinge in Austrian German) to receiveECo-C training (funded by the Niederösterreich Chamber of Commerce), appears tobe beneficial to all parties involved, in every way; in short: a stroke ofgenius?Apprentices in ECo-C Training

Go back