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National Apprenticeship Week Q&A: BAJ's Gabriel Gherscovic

As part of National Apprenticeship Week, Retail Jeweller caught up with Gabriel Gherscovic, chief executive officer of the British Academy of Jewellery (BAJ) to find out more about its recent rebrand and the future for the industry training provider.

Q: British Academy of Jewellery was previously known as Holts Academy, why did you change the name?

A: We wanted to have a name to reflect our new direction, and we felt it was the right time to evolve and become an independent institution of learning and creativity. As the British Academy of Jewellery, we seek to become a new kind of jewellery school, one where technical training is not an afterthought or a hindrance to creativity. We want to be a school that does not shy away from originality and creativity, but where traditional techniques are taught and challenged. Under our new brand, the Academy seeks to inspire and nurture the next generation of jewellers. We hope to pioneer British jewellery education and work with the industry to build our global reputation for skilled artisans and designers. To achieve our goals we have recruited a team of talented jewellers and educators to teach at the Academy as well as develop partnerships and Erasmus programmes.

Q: How will you support your students?

A: We seek to become a cultural centre of excellence that encourages learning, ideas and collaboration within the jewellery industry. Our courses are designed to provide students with a wide range of pathways to enter the industry. With a strong focus on technical excellence, our diploma courses challenge and prepare students to work in the industry. Students can start at the BAJ and learn from scratch – our goal is to equip them with all the jewellery savoir-faire needed to design, make and sell jewellery. Our intensive short courses also offer industry professionals the opportunity to broaden their area of expertise and develop a deeper understanding of the industry they work in. Like all craft disciplines, jewellery skills have often been passed down generations. We seek to encourage the collaboration and the passing on of craftsmanship through our jewellery apprenticeship programme.

Q: How will you support the jewellery industry?

A: We seek to work closely with the industry in order to foster a network of support and international collaboration. In providing a quality education we also aim to provide the trade with a skilled workforce that has the aptitude and ability to carry the torch – but we cannot do this alone, it is a shared responsibility that we as an industry need to work together to achieve. I urge members of the trade to consider their role in supporting the future of jewellery and protecting the craft and to get in touch with us to find out how you can get more involved.

Q: What is in store for the BAJ in 2017?

A: We have been very fortunate and have received such a positive response from the industry regarding the new direction and the goals for the BAJ. We are currently speaking to students and the trade to find out what courses they would like to see added to our curriculum. We have some exciting developments in store for 2017 – stay up-to-date with all our news online at baj.ac.uk. Also, if you sign up to our newsletter, you can stay up-to date with industry news through our weekly BAJ: Digest written by jewellery editor, Rachael Taylor.

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