craft skills and apprenticeships are important and are relevant

carved panel in the Assembly Hall of Arbejdermuseet - the Workers Museum - in Copenhagen


For too many people in western Europe or the States, the assumption now is that if we buy something in a shop then it must have been made in a factory and there is the feeling that if something is actually hand made then it must either be worse in quality or much much more expensive. Is it time to change this default but relatively recent view?

Even with commercial or factory production, the importance of craft skills is underestimated … the design process should require a clear understanding of the materials and the practical demands of the production processes and that is best learnt hands on. And although final drawings for a factory may well be produced digitally, many designers work through their ideas and resolve the details of the final design by producing prototypes by hand. Even when it is clearly a factory process, as with moulding plastic, it may appear to be completely mechanical and automated, but the production of the moulds themselves is a specialised and expensive job requiring considerable skill.

Research or knowledge-based skills and abilities in management and finance, trade and banking within the general work force are now crucial for the success of any country but should not be the focus of an education system and certainly not presented as the only choice for a successful career. 

Apprenticeships and the development of craft skills of all types are crucial and the work and the workshops of makers should be given much more prominence within communities. If a child on his way to school walks past a potter’s studio or a joiner’s workshop or watches a glass blower at their work bench they may well decide that throwing a pot or making a chair or making a drinking glass is exactly what they want to do after they leave school.