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Euromed Heritage 4 – Workshop on “Apprenticeship”

(28-30 June 2011, Beirut, Lebanon)
Learning by doing: is there a future?

Michelangelo was the apprentice of Ghirlandaio, as Raffaello was of Perugino. Apprenticeship is learning by doing, following a master’s advice. It is a form of on-job training. It is often the transmission of an art faithful to tradition. It’s a form of education regulated by law and structures in many European countries.. Apprenticeship is also an income-generating activity.

The workshop on “Apprenticeship” has taken take place on 28-30 June 2011, in Beirut, Lebanon. It has been organized in partnership with London Metropolitan University and the Académie Libanaise des Beaux Arts, partners of Mare Nostrum project, who hosted the activity.

Apprenticeship is an exciting but complex issue to tackle, because whereas it is regulated in many European countries, there are hardly any institutions or laws addressing this form of education/production in Mediterranean Partner countries. Generally speaking, apprenticeship is somehow devalued on both shores of the Mediterranean, with the result that many skills and many masters - still thriving some thirty years ago - have disappeared or are fast disappearing.  The workshop tackled the issue of apprenticeship from the perspective of traditional skills, but it also explored how it links with socio-economic development.

It put special focus on the knowledge and its transmission, on the recognition of the experience of old masters who never went through formal training. It created awareness of the value of apprenticeship as a vehicle for traditional skills, developed and transmitted through generations.

But this on-job training is not only a personal and cultural experience, or a form of education: it is also an income-generating activity. There are many issues affecting apprenticeship training, a choice too often devalued for post-secondary education. Institutional support is essential, as is its formal validation. Promotion and marketing are keys to attract young people to make this career choice, and the workshop addressed such issues. Because, in the end, apprenticeship can have a competitive edge, and goods traditionally produced can guarantee an economic fallout for local and even national economies.

The workshop gathered representatives from Euromed Heritage 4 projects, representatives from Ministers of Educations and Chambers of Commerce, partners from the London Metropolitan University, specialists involved in apprenticeship and heritage issues, such as the Institute of Traditional Islamic Art and Architecture of Jordan, la Escuela Taller of Spain, l’Ecole des arts et métiers de Tétouan and ICCROM.

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