If you are not academically minded and want to pursue a career in a traditional craft industry you will be hard pushed to find an apprenticeship. When you think about this maybe it is not so surprising. More than 200 000 people work in the heritage craft sector, but almost 80% of them are self employed. Consequently they don't qualify for government support to take on an apprentice. Many of these crafts can be highly lucrative and lead to an international career. Andy Goldsworthy for example has commissioned work installed in San Francisco
In my part of the world , the English Lake District, dry stone walls are a dominant feature of the landscape. Maintaining and building these structures is typical of the heritage industries that need young people to learn this skill. One solution the Dry Stone Walling Association (DSWA) has iniatated to help solve the problem is to use a heritage lottery grant to fund the training of five apprentices. I spent a day watching them practice their skills at the DSWA base near Kendal.
Dry stone walls are an integral part of the rural landscape.
Master Craftsman Andrew Loudon explains what the apprentice's are expected to build today.
As you can imagine the walling profession is dominated by men, but one of the apprenticeships was awarded to female participant, Tracy Cumberbatch . Tracy had been trying to get a job in the countryside with local agencies such as the National Park Authority but was continually losing out to other candidates with degrees. Not able to afford today's university fees Tracy looked for alternative ways to enhance her skill set and the bursary scheme offered by the DSWA was an ideal way to get an additional qualification.
Just like a wall built frorm bricks the stones in each row should overlap so that you don't get a continuous vertical gap running down the wall.
Today's exercise was to build a wall end and unlike the wallers from the past todays students can capture their efforts on their smart phones to share with their friends and family.
Handling rough stones all day can take its toll
At the end of the exercise there is only one thing to do - exchange walling banter over a brew!