Swiss Time Services, one of the UK’s largest independent servicing and repairs watch companies, has stepped up to deliver training for up to 15 people a year undertaking the new two-year Watchmaker Apprenticeship.
The government’s Education and Skills Funding Agency approved an increase in funding for the two year apprenticeship from £9000 to £27,000 in February last year, but the Industry Group struggled to find a commercial training provider that could deliver the course for what is likely to be up to 15 people per year until Uxbridge College agreed. They will manage the administration and ensure quality throughout the programme for Ofsted.
Creation of the Watchmaker Apprenticeship has been driven by an industry group headed by Matt Bowling, co-founder of Watchfinder, and David Poole, former chief examiner at the British Horological Institute and chairman of the George Daniels Educational Trust Advisory Committee. They have been working for three years to develop the right structured training programmes and persuade the government to support it.
They say that the agreement with Swiss Time Services is a crucial step towards launching the first apprenticeships later this year.
“A training provider on the Register of Apprenticeship Training Providers is essential to draw government funding but training providers are commercial enterprises and seek apprenticeships with large numbers,” a briefing from Mr Bowling and Mr Poole says. “The anticipated fifteen apprentices each year for watchmaking is not an attractive proposition.”
Swiss Time Services (STS) converted an areas of its workshop into a professionally equipped training room earlier this year, which will be overseen by Nick Towndrow, commercial director, and Tony Coe, the firm’s managing director. Both have been active members of the industry group consulting on apprenticeships from the outset.
STS will also take apprentices into other areas of the business where, for example, they can get experience with advanced cleaning and polishing machinery.
Apprentices will spend two years working with their employers, which might be service centres for major watch brands, with block release breaks for training at STS. Swiss movement-maker ETA is providing parts for the scheme.