It is with great pleasure that I announce the IET (Institute of Engineering and Technology) are supporting and assisting with development of the Gunsmith apprenticeship standard.
So who are IET? They are the worlds largest institution for professional engineers. Being a member of the IET allows a wide range of engineers to continue professional development throughout their career.
So what does this mean? The IET have looked at the draft apprenticeship standard and agreed that it meets level 3 competency which is the same level of competency for example as an aircraft engineering technician amongst others. It means that any apprentice completing the standard will be able to gain professional membership of IET and display the logo as officially accredited member. It also allows any apprentice to access a variety of further educational routes.
Now in isolation this means very little to most, however you must remember that ‘Gunsmiths’ in the UK have never been viewed as a professional outside of our rather insular sector. By aligning the apprenticeship standard in such a way it gives credibility outside of our sector and will only serve to strengthen our trade for years to come.
The standard is not being written to preclude those competent smiths in our trade already, it is our desire to include those in the sector already and assist them with professional development for the long term. Once the standard is published any competent smith can opt to go through the assessment route and top up training where they specifically lack experience. Yes there will be a cost although this will be the lowest it can be and also not time dependant.
If you question the logic behind promoting standardised training, cast your eye to the continent and the various gunsmithing schools. Whilst our trade has declined, the equivalent trades in Italy, Belgium, France and Austria have become real respective national assets. I read a report the other day, showing Italian export revenues for small arms exceed $750m every year, it is no wonder the trade in Italy receives so much assistance from its respective government. The UK trade were once a global player but a catalogue of events have pushed the UK gun trade into a corner. If something is not done now, we will lose what little we have.
It is my belief that with the right support and investment in young people, the UK gun trade can once again flourish and be at the forefront of a global trade. Maybe not in volume, but definitely in quality and innovation. The UK exports knowledge in various other sectors (Architecture, Education, Engineering et al) around the world, could the UK gun trade do the same?
Both Birmingham and London gun trades were the epicentre of all things firearm in the world for the best part of 100 years. You can see this in the number of patents created which number far more than I wish to count, this all but came to an end at the outbreak of the Great War of 1914 and it has never recovered.
The lack of support from banks, government and other facets of the UK have not helped, this for me can be put down to perception of the dreaded three letter word ‘gun’. Anyone who shoots or is in the trade will have experienced this first hand. When you tell someone what you do, it is often met with ‘that’s illegal, you’re cruel, what you sell sawn offs’ and all manner of ill educated responses. Whereas on the continent, it is widely viewed as a normal pastime and profession which is no more elaborate than golf etc.
If you are involved in the gun trade and wish to pledge support in anyway, please get in touch (firstname.lastname@example.org). The Academy and the gunsmith apprenticeship standard is being set-up to benefit the trade and our sport shooting disciplines, it requires your help and support. Just sharing this post on social media will help promote it.