A new Watchmaker Apprentice Training School

The Training School is in a commercial environment.

There have been significant steps towards the day when the first apprentices begin their training:

  • Work has continued with Uxbridge College, the Lead Provider preparing to deliver the apprenticeship:
    • An Apprenticeship Handbook has been produced giving details of the apprenticeship, its content and general information.
    • Detailed lesson plans and schemes of work for each module in the apprenticeship are being prepared to meet Ofsted requirements.
       
  • The scheme has been approved by ETA to enable watch movements and materials to be available for training.
     
  • The ‘Watchmaker Apprentice Training School’ (WATS) situated at the premises of Swiss Time Services in Essex has been developed for block release to enable a group of four apprentices to be trained at any one time. It is well equipped with the specialist facilities of the company being used for cleaning, case polishing, etc.  A wonderful opportunity for your apprentices to learn using ‘state of the art’ equipment.

Figure 1 - The Training Workshop

The only delay on the horizon is a change in the government funding rules (again!).Whereas previously Uxbridge College was able to subcontract delivery to WATS, now there is the requirement that WATS must be approved and listed on the Register of Apprentice Training Providers.The application has been submitted and we are awaiting the response; possibly a delay of twelve weeks or more.

We are very fortunate in being guided by Uxbridge College.  They are ranked as ‘Outstanding’ by Ofsted and gained the No. 1 spot for achievement for colleges in London – a measure of the number of students who are successful compared with the number commencing the course.

Questions have arisen about the apprenticeship being used to ‘top up’ the skills of technicians who already have some experience. This can be arranged; a skill scan determines the point of entry to the apprenticeship.  A group of apprentices would start together at the appropriate point.

We are confident that Uxbridge College and the Watchmaker Apprentice Training School will prove a winning combination to train the next generation of watchmakers.

If you would like to learn more about the Trailblazer Apprenticeship to train watchmakers, please contact:

Matt Bowling, Industry Lead:

matt.bowling@watchfinder.co.uk

David Poole

chairman@gdetac.org

Nick Towndrow

nick@swisstimeservices.com

This is a big step forward for watchmaker training in the UK; there will be a wider range of options for training.  Companies have commented that the employment of a young trainee can quickly become cost effective; a scheme like this reduces the training cost to your business.

Read further for more details.

Although the two-year Watchmaker Apprenticeship was marked ‘ready for delivery’ at the start of 2018, there is so much to do before the ‘actual delivery’ begins:

  1. Identify a training provider registered for the delivery of Trailblazer Apprenticeships.
  2. Determine the approach.
  3. Plan the delivery.
  4. Produce a budget.
  5. Identify apprentices.

Representatives of the Institute for Apprenticeships (IfA) and the National Apprenticeship Service attended the ‘Industry Group’ meeting on 21st March 2018; this did not provide a breakthrough.  It merely confirmed the view that niche apprenticeships with small numbers of apprenticeships prove difficult to deliver.

  1. Identify a Training Provider:

All Trailblazer apprenticeships require the apprentice to spend 20% learning through ‘off the job training’.This might be attending a college for block release or training in the workplace (actual learning as distinct from working in the commercial environment); it can include online approaches for mentoring and knowledge.In order to gain funding from the Education and Skills Funding Agency, off the job training must be accessed through a Training Provider on the Register of Apprentice Training Providers (ROATP).It is necessary to identify a ‘Lead Provider’ who would subcontract the actual delivery to either each apprentice’s employer or to another body such as a watchmaking school.

Most watchmaking businesses do not pay the government Apprenticeship Levy (the annual salary payments are less than £3,000,000) but there are Levy payers who may wish to use the apprenticeship.Not all Training Providers are registered for delivery to both ‘Levy’ and ‘Non Levy’ payers.Training Providers are commercial enterprises and seek apprenticeships with large numbers, the anticipated fifteen apprentices for watchmaking is not an attractive proposition.After ten rejections, there was an initial meeting with Uxbridge College to discuss delivery and now, after over a year, we are working closely together for an autumn 2019 start.

  1. Determine the approach:

Discussion at the Industry Group Meeting favoured block release.  It is a cost effective approach with straightforward quality assurance but initial discussions with one established watchmaking school pinpointed their lack of immediate workshop space and staff. The BHI was asked but were not prepared to become the provider.

We could not have proceeded without support from Uxbridge College; they have extensive knowledge and experience from delivering many apprenticeships but, of course, not watchmaking. As a college they have never actually trained watchmakers.Teaching the practical skills and knowledge will be subcontracted to the Watchmaker Apprentice Training School; the theory will be mainly taught online.

The school has created an innovative approach which provides a model for other niche sectors requiring training. The conventional watchmaking school provides training through demonstrations and theory teaching; experience is gained via supervised practice at the school.  The student is isolated from the commercial environment which is to become the future.  This new idea for delivery provides strategically timed training blocks for the apprentice to learn practical skills and underpinning knowledge.  These developing skills are then implemented and practised on customer’s watches in the employer’s workplace.

Figure 2 - Machine for refinishing watch bevels.

A new Watchmaker Apprentice Training School …

There have been significant steps towards the day when the first apprentices begin their training:

  • Work has continued with Uxbridge College, the Lead Provider preparing to deliver the apprenticeship:
    • An Apprenticeship Handbook has been produced giving details of the apprenticeship, its content and general information.
    • Detailed lesson plans and schemes of work for each module in the apprenticeship are being prepared to meet Ofsted requirements.
       
  • The scheme has been approved by ETA to enable watch movements and materials to be available for training.
     
  • The ‘Watchmaker Apprentice Training School’ (WATS) situated at the premises of Swiss Time Services in Essex has been developed for block release to enable a group of four apprentices to be trained at any one time. It is well equipped with the specialist facilities of the company being used for cleaning, case polishing, etc.  A wonderful opportunity for your apprentices to learn using ‘state of the art’ equipment.

The only delay on the horizon is a change in the government funding rules (again!).Whereas previously Uxbridge College was able to subcontract delivery to WATS, now there is the requirement that WATS must be approved and listed on the Register of Apprentice Training Providers.The application has been submitted and we are awaiting the response; possibly a delay of twelve weeks or more.

We are very fortunate in being guided by Uxbridge College.  They are ranked as ‘Outstanding’ by Ofsted and gained the No. 1 spot for achievement for colleges in London – a measure of the number of students who are successful compared with the number commencing the course.

Questions have arisen about the apprenticeship being used to ‘top up’ the skills of technicians who already have some experience. This can be arranged; a skill scan determines the point of entry to the apprenticeship.  A group of apprentices would start together at the appropriate point.

We are confident that Uxbridge College and the Watchmaker Apprentice Training School will prove a winning combination to train the next generation of watchmakers.

If you would like to learn more about the Trailblazer Apprenticeship to train watchmakers, please contact:

Matt Bowling, Industry Lead:

matt.bowling@watchfinder.co.uk

David Poole

chairman@gdetac.org

Nick Towndrow

nick@swisstimeservices.com

This is a big step forward for watchmaker training in the UK; there will be a wider range of options for training.  Companies have commented that the employment of a young trainee can quickly become cost effective; a scheme like this reduces the training cost to your business.

Read further for more details.

Although the two-year Watchmaker Apprenticeship was marked ‘ready for delivery’ at the start of 2018, there is so much to do before the ‘actual delivery’ begins:

  1. Identify a training provider registered for the delivery of Trailblazer Apprenticeships.
  2. Determine the approach.
  3. Plan the delivery.
  4. Produce a budget.
  5. Identify apprentices.

Representatives of the Institute for Apprenticeships (IfA) and the National Apprenticeship Service attended the ‘Industry Group’ meeting on 21st March 2018; this did not provide a breakthrough.  It merely confirmed the view that niche apprenticeships with small numbers of apprenticeships prove difficult to deliver.

  1. Identify a Training Provider:

All Trailblazer apprenticeships require the apprentice to spend 20% learning through ‘off the job training’.This might be attending a college for block release or training in the workplace (actual learning as distinct from working in the commercial environment); it can include online approaches for mentoring and knowledge.In order to gain funding from the Education and Skills Funding Agency, off the job training must be accessed through a Training Provider on the Register of Apprentice Training Providers (ROATP).It is necessary to identify a ‘Lead Provider’ who would subcontract the actual delivery to either each apprentice’s employer or to another body such as a watchmaking school.

Most watchmaking businesses do not pay the government Apprenticeship Levy (the annual salary payments are less than £3,000,000) but there are Levy payers who may wish to use the apprenticeship.Not all Training Providers are registered for delivery to both ‘Levy’ and ‘Non Levy’ payers.Training Providers are commercial enterprises and seek apprenticeships with large numbers, the anticipated fifteen apprentices for watchmaking is not an attractive proposition.After ten rejections, there was an initial meeting with Uxbridge College to discuss delivery and now, after over a year, we are working closely together for an autumn 2019 start.

  1. Determine the approach:

Figure 3 - The Training School is a commercial environment.

Discussion at the Industry Group Meeting favoured block release.  It is a cost effective approach with straightforward quality assurance but initial discussions with one established watchmaking school pinpointed their lack of immediate workshop space and staff. The BHI was asked but were not prepared to become the provider.

We could not have proceeded without support from Uxbridge College; they have extensive knowledge and experience from delivering many apprenticeships but, of course, not watchmaking. As a college they have never actually trained watchmakers.Teaching the practical skills and knowledge will be subcontracted to the Watchmaker Apprentice Training School; the theory will be mainly taught online.

The school has created an innovative approach which provides a model for other niche sectors requiring training. The conventional watchmaking school provides training through demonstrations and theory teaching; experience is gained via supervised practice at the school.  The student is isolated from the commercial environment which is to become the future.  This new idea for delivery provides strategically timed training blocks for the apprentice to learn practical skills and underpinning knowledge.  These developing skills are then implemented and practised on customer’s watches in the employer’s workplace. 

The wider resources available at STS complement the range of equipment present in the training workshop.  For example, the machinery for case polishing can only be described as ‘state of the art’.  In addition to the polishing spindles, there are machines for refinishing bevels (Figure 2), purpose built equipment for finishing between the lugs on a watch case and laser welding facilities.

This blend of the training workshop, the Watchmaker Apprentice Training School (WATS), and the commercial servicing environment is unique.  Apprentices will not only learn from the apprenticeship itself; they will also gain an insight into the management of a substantial business (Figure 3).

The Managing Director of Swiss Time Services, Tony Coe, and Commercial Director, Nick Towndrow, were both active members of the Industry Group from the outset.  WATS became a reality because of their enthusiasm for quality training; there is now a new training room and Nick is responsible for training at WATS. 

Although the Funding Band allocates £27,000 for delivery of the two-year apprenticeship, this figure includes costs incurred by the Lead Provider, Uxbridge College, for administration; the money is not all available for actual training.  Significant expense is incurred to negotiate subcontracting contracts which meet the Funding Rules, enable delivery to be monitored to the satisfaction of Ofsted and include the End-point Assessment.

  1. Plan the Delivery:
    There has been a good start, the Uxbridge College handbook for the Watchmaker Apprenticeship is complete.  It gives details of the apprenticeship, End-point Assessment, etc. within the college framework. (a PDF Version is available on request, please contact, Matt Bowling, David Poole or Nick Towndrow, email addresses are given earlier in this article).
    A schedule of fourteen block release sessions has been devised each of one week’s duration.  At the beginning, these will teach the skills such as routine tasks such as battery replacement, bracelet and strap replacement; towards the end of the apprenticeship, the focus is on servicing and correcting faults in automatic watches.  Lesson Plans and Schemes of Work are currently being prepared.  Knowledge will be taught during the two years via
    on-line assignments; an Eportfolio, OneFile, will monitor progress.
     
  2. Produce a budget:

How can the Funding Band be used most effectively to enable the delivery of fourteen, one week, block release sessions and on-line teaching?
An important step is the approval by ETA to provide movements and parts for the scheme.The overall arrangements for delivery must become clearer before the final budget can be determined but, employers can be assured as much training as possible will be available from the Funding Band.

  1. Identify apprentices:
    This has already commenced; there is a healthy interest from employers.  Four apprentices can be accommodated for each block release.  There is flexibility; each apprentice need not be an absolute beginner.  For employees, with some experience, a skillscan will determine the starting point in the programme.  If you are interested, please use the contacts provided.

What can you do to help?
If you are considering employing an apprentice, please get in touch to gain more details.  This brief article can only skim the surface.  The Uxbridge College Watchmaker Apprenticeship Handbook, designed for the apprentice and the employer will be provided to give a fuller picture.  For the organising team, an insight into the number of apprentices will be invaluable for planning. Those who have already been in touch need not let us know but others should declare their interest; there is no commitment but an idea of take up in the future will be helpful.

The wider resources available at STS complement the range of equipment present in the training workshop.  For example, the machinery for case polishing can only be described as ‘state of the art’.  In addition to the polishing spindles, there are machines for refinishing bevels (Figure 2), purpose built equipment for finishing between the lugs on a watch case and laser welding facilities.

This blend of the training workshop, the Watchmaker Apprentice Training School (WATS), and the commercial servicing environment is unique.  Apprentices will not only learn from the apprenticeship itself; they will also gain an insight into the management of a substantial business (Figure 3).

The Managing Director of Swiss Time Services, Tony Coe, and Commercial Director, Nick Towndrow, were both active members of the Industry Group from the outset.  WATS became a reality because of their enthusiasm for quality training; there is now a new training room and Nick is responsible for training at WATS. 

Although the Funding Band allocates £27,000 for delivery of the two-year apprenticeship, this figure includes costs incurred by the Lead Provider, Uxbridge College, for administration; the money is not all available for actual training.  Significant expense is incurred to negotiate subcontracting contracts which meet the Funding Rules, enable delivery to be monitored to the satisfaction of Ofsted and include the End-point Assessment.

  1. Plan the Delivery:
    There has been a good start, the Uxbridge College handbook for the Watchmaker Apprenticeship is complete.  It gives details of the apprenticeship, End-point Assessment, etc. within the college framework. (a PDF Version is available on request, please contact, Matt Bowling, David Poole or Nick Towndrow, email addresses are given earlier in this article).
    A schedule of fourteen block release sessions has been devised each of one week’s duration.  At the beginning, these will teach the skills such as routine tasks such as battery replacement, bracelet and strap replacement; towards the end of the apprenticeship, the focus is on servicing and correcting faults in automatic watches.  Lesson Plans and Schemes of Work are currently being prepared.  Knowledge will be taught during the two years via
    on-line assignments; an Eportfolio, OneFile, will monitor progress.
     
  2. Produce a budget:

How can the Funding Band be used most effectively to enable the delivery of fourteen, one week, block release sessions and on-line teaching?
An important step is the approval by ETA to provide movements and parts for the scheme.The overall arrangements for delivery must become clearer before the final budget can be determined but, employers can be assured as much training as possible will be available from the Funding Band.

  1. Identify apprentices:
    This has already commenced; there is a healthy interest from employers.  Four apprentices can be accommodated for each block release.  There is flexibility; each apprentice need not be an absolute beginner.  For employees, with some experience, a skillscan will determine the starting point in the programme.  If you are interested, please use the contacts provided.

What can you do to help?
If you are considering employing an apprentice, please get in touch to gain more details.  This brief article can only skim the surface.  The Uxbridge College Watchmaker Apprenticeship Handbook, designed for the apprentice and the employer will be provided to give a fuller picture.  For the organising team, an insight into the number of apprentices will be invaluable for planning. Those who have already been in touch need not let us know but others should declare their interest; there is no commitment but an idea of take up in the future will be helpful.

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