We have a choice, folks — we can all agree that the pool of bench folks is shrinking, wring our hands and say “something has to be done.” Or, we can actually do something. While I do not wear capes nor leap tall buildings in a single bound, I decided to become a Jewelry Action Hero (JAH).
I want you to be a JAH, too.
It involves a simple action plan. I contacted my local high school principal and offered to speak to the kids about learning the trade. She forwarded my email. I booked my first gig within two days and spoke to 20 students last week — one of whom is very interested.
My presentation took just under 20 minutes. I let them know that if they have the aptitude and get trained by the New Approach School for Jewelers or the Texas Institute of Jewelry in Paris, TX, then they can probably find a job pretty much anywhere in the country they might want to move.
Confession: Part of my motivation is purely selfish. We are surrounded by jewelers who either want to retire (one did last year) or sell their stores for other reasons. As a result, our repair business is way up — more than my wife can handle. (Me, I change watch batteries.) So if I can interest a local young person enough to go learn the skills and come back to Lowell, we can offer them a job and possibly even a store to take over.
After my presentation, I asked the teacher for feedback. She complimented my relaxed, but not too relaxed, presentation. She did suggest I bring some visual aids next time — I was operating on the assumption that “jewelry repair” was a concept easily understood. Her point was noted and my next effort will include something to look at.
If I can do it, so can all of you. If everyone reading this would reach out to a school in your area, I am thinking we can make short work of the shortage in our industry. Become a JAH. Shoot, we can design some capes and take it to the next level.
Cliff Yankovich owns Chimera Design, which opened in 2002. A true “mom and pop” operation, Cliff runs the front and his wife, Julie Claire DeVoe, does the bench work.