!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD XHTML 1.0 Strict//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/xhtml1/DTD/xhtml1-strict.dtd"> Streamline Training & Documentation: Apprenticeship

Sunday, July 30, 2006


Among the many topics covered by John Chardin, the seventeenth-century traveler in Persia whose memoir I cited yesterday, I naturally found myself paying particular attention to anything relating to education and training.

Especially interesting in this regard was what Chardin had to say about how Persia handled apprenticeship at the time of his visit. Chardin reports:
There is ... no binding of Apprentices among [tradesmen], and [no forcing them to] learn their Trades for nothing: Far from it; the Boys that are put out 'Prentices with a Master, have Wages the very first Day they go to him. The Parents make an Agreement between the Master and 'Prentice for so much per Day the first Year; a Half-penny, or a Penny a Day, according to the Age of the 'Prentice, and the Hardship of the Trade; and the Wages encrease now and then, according to the 'Prentice's Improvement.

The thing is still without any mutual Confinement, with respect to Time, as I have said; the Master having always the Liberty to turn away his 'Prentice, and the 'Prentice to leave his Master.

There it is indeed that Knowledge must be stolen; for the Master thinking on the Profit he may reap by his 'Prentice, more than on teaching him his Trade, doth not trouble himself much with him, but employs him only in those things that relate to his Profit. [p. 251, emphasis added]
As a counterpoint to seventeenth-century Persia's haphazard approach to training young tradespeople, here's what the Employment & Training Administration of the US Department of Labor offers in the way of basic program standards for registered apprenticeship programs1:
  • full and fair opportunity to apply for apprenticeship

  • a schedule of work processes in which an apprentice is to receive training and experience on the job

  • the program includes organized instruction designed to provide apprentices with knowledge in technical subjects related to their trade (e.g., a minimum of 144 hours per year is normally considered necessary)

  • a progressively increasing schedule of wages

  • proper supervision of on-the-job training with adequate facilities to train apprentices

  • apprentice's progress, both in job performance and related instruction, is evaluated periodically, and appropriate records are maintained

  • no discrimination in any phase of selection, employment, or training
Of course, it is possible to take standards like those listed above to a bureaucratic extreme, but handled intelligently, they strike me as consistent with what we should aim for in any serious apprenticeship program.

1 Program standards are based on Title 29, Code of Federal Regulations, Part 29.5.


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