The Saddlery Millennium Apprenticeship Scheme
The Apprenticeship has been accepted for many years, within the saddlery trade and elsewhere, as one of the most successful methods of acquiring the craft skills necessary to be able to produce high quality products for the home and overseas markets.
With this in mind, the Worshipful Company of Saddlers, together with the Society of Master Saddlers, developed the Millennium Saddlery Apprenticeship Scheme, incorporating a more structured and comprehensive training programme than previously existed. This Apprenticeship Scheme uses the National Training Qualifications for Saddlery. These are important City & Guilds qualifications and set high standards of workmanship for those entering the trade as Apprentices. The Scheme helps to equip future saddlers in this country with the enhanced skills necessary for the 21st Century.
An Outline Of The Scheme
The Apprenticeship involves an agreement by the Employer to offer craft training to enable the Apprentice, after a specified time, to become an independent member of the saddlery craft and trade. In return, the Apprentice shall study and work hard to learn the craft and assist the Employer in his business. Each Apprenticeship agreement will be monitored on behalf of the Saddlery Steering Group by another experienced saddler - known as the Visitor - to act as adviser to both the Employer and Apprentice and to see that satisfactory progress is maintained throughout the period of the Apprenticeship.
Employers who take on Apprentices make a significant contribution to the saddlery trade. In recognition of this, they are presented with a certificate as an "Approved Saddlery Apprentice Master" by the Saddlers' Company.
The Apprenticeship Scheme incorporates a formal contract of employment - the Indenture Form - signed by the Employer and Apprentice to ensure that both know and agree their rights and responsibilities throughout the training period. The contract covers wages and other conditions of employment.
During their training apprentices are required to achieve the City & Guilds saddlery skill assessments at Level 2 and 3.
As the name suggests, the requirements of Level 1 (Basic Skills) are to demonstrate that the candidate has grasped the fundamentals, both of the craft skills and also of the use of tools and the properties of the materials used in making saddles, bridles and harness.
At Level 2 (Intermediate Skills) and at Level 3 (Advanced Skills), the specific requirements for the production of the three categories of tack (bridles, saddles and harness) are assessed separately. At the same time, in each case, candidates are required to give written answers to questions designed to show the assessor that they have a good knowledge of health & safety, materials, processes, products and associated costs related to the practical assessment.
It was realised that, in addition to the craft skills required of a saddler, it was important that those in training should have a sound knowledge of other things that would arise in the course of their work. The apprentice will therefore complete a portfolio over the four years of their apprenticeship, building up a solid knowledge base.
Entry to the Scheme
The Apprentice must apply for employment to a member of the Society of Master Saddlers who is in one of the Master Saddler, Master Saddler Retail or Master Harness Maker categories.
To find details of such members please click the "Find SMS Member" button above and select the appropriate category.
Alternatively a printed list of members may be obtained from:
The Society of Master Saddlers (UK) Ltd.
Green Lane Farm, Stonham,
Tel: 01449 711642
The Apprentice must have reached the age of sixteen before the start of an Apprenticeship. There is no upper age limit.
After a satisfactory probationary period of between 3 and 6 months, the Employer should send an Application for Apprenticeship to the Society of Master Saddlers. A Visitor will be asked to hold an introductory meeting with the Employer and Apprentice to explain how the scheme will operate. Following a satisfactory Visitor's report, a Letter of Acceptance, outlining the terms and conditions of employment, will be sent to the Employer by the Society on behalf of the Saddlery Steering Group, together with an Indenture Form.
The Indenture Form will be signed by the Employer, the Apprentice and the Apprentice's parent/sponsor. Indentures represent a formal contract of employment.
The Employer is required to pay wages and observe holiday entitlement throughout the training period in accordance with current legislation. Terms and conditions will be reviewed at least once a year on the anniversary date of the Apprenticeship and agreed by Employer and Apprentice, monitored by the Visitor.
Nature of the Training
Training will principally be within the Employer's own workshop and may include additional training at a recognised training centre. Employment will be on a full-time basis of between 35 and 40 hours a week.
Training will include both practical saddlery and leather goods craft skills and background knowledge of other related subjects, such as equine anatomy, lorinery, horse-handling, saddle-fitting, rugs and rug repairs and health and safety regulations. The apprentice will also attend the Society's Introductory Saddle Fitting Course.
The Apprentice will be asked to demonstrate his/her progress during training by achieving at least Level 2 and 3 Bridle, Level 2 Harness and Level 2 and 3 Saddle qualifications of the Saddlery Skill Assessment and Qualification Scheme. To enable the Apprentice to gain sufficient experience, a minimum of four years training will usually be required to complete an Apprenticeship. After the four year period has elapsed, the Apprenticeship agreement may be continued for a further period by mutual agreement or the Apprenticeship contract may be terminated.
Evidence of the Apprentice's competence will be collected within a portfolio which will be available for inspection by the Visitor.
Role of the Visitor
The Visitor will be responsible to the Steering Group for ensuring that both the Employer and the Apprentice feel that they have recourse to advice and arbitration in case of any disagreement. Any matters of disagreement between the Employer and Apprentice which cannot be resolved by the Visitor shall be referred to the Saddlers' Company which, with the advice of the Saddlery Steering Group, will act as arbitrator. The Visitor will submit a brief annual progress report to the Steering Group on the anniversary of the Apprenticeship and a final report before the Apprenticeship is completed the Apprentice's competence will be collected within a portfolio which will be available for inspection by the Visitor.
Upon completion, an Apprenticeship Certificate will be prepared by the Saddlers' Company and the Society of Master Saddlers for presentation to the Apprentice.
The Worshipful Company of Saddlers has invested funds to provide a modest level of financial support for those undertaking the obligations of the Scheme. Where no statutory funding is available from other sources, the Millennium Apprenticeship Fund will assist those in financial need for the following purposes:
a. Fees for the Saddlery Skills Assessments (integral to the Scheme).
b. The cost of materials used in preparing for the Assessments.
c. Travel to the Assessment Centres.
d. Fees for the SMS Introductory Saddle Fitting Course (integral to the Scheme).
e. Travel and accommodation for the SMS Saddle Fitting Course.
f. An allowance for the purchase of saddlery tools.
The availability of financial support will depend on the demands made upon the funds. Application should be made to the Clerk of the Saddlers' Company.
Further details about the Scheme are available from:
The Clerk to the Saddlers' Company
40, Gutter Lane
London EC2V 6BR
(Tel: 020 7726 8661)