Woodworking and the future of artisanship.
By David P. Kornis
We’ve all read about the need for more skilled workers and for new and innovative approaches to manufacturing, and the benefits that can accompany this. And in some ways, we’ve come a long way in this area; not much longer ago we couldn’t even call a machine a screw; the latter is still a tool we typically put to use to change the internal dimensions, not the outside. But new techniques and more efficient manufacturing processes – in particular advances in 3D printing and the production of 3D-printed parts – have brought about a tremendous amount of new talent and knowledge into the field of 3D printing. It is now common and even accepted information in the world of artisanship that the more complex the fabrication, the better it is (in fact, many more sophisticated techniques are required to improve upon the more simple processes).
Yet many young artisans who can afford to are unable to access these advanced techniques due to lack of adequate work space, financial support from home, insufficient education or work experience, and/or the difficulties of acquiring the appropriate materials and skills.
In the past, this lack of education was not only a hurdle before becoming an artisan, it was also a hurdle that kept the industry from growing and reaching its potential. And these hurdles are not going away. In fact, they are only going to get tougher, because with each passing generation, the number of people who are able to develop the skills needed for the jobs of the future is only going to keep growing. This means that the number of artisanships is bound to double, and with that, the cost of employment and wages is bound to fall further. As I’ll show in a future article, artisanships that are in an emerging state of maturity – that will be able to support not only talented workers, but also to provide new educational opportunities – are likely to emerge, even as the economy continues to decline.
Of course, we must understand the difference between apprenticeships and apprentice shops. As I mentioned, for those of us lucky enough to have worked our way back through the pipeline from school to apprenticeship and from apprenticeship to work experience, we are often lucky enough to find jobs with companies that offer a mix of permanent and contractual work.
To become an apprentice shop or an apprentice, you must have a minimum amount of work experience with those tools. Typically, this will involve some minor use of those tools at
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