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Watchmaker Licensing And Rehabilitation

From The American Horologist and Jeweler magazine, July, 1946

Watchmaker Licensing And Rehabilitation

By B. W. Heald
National Legal Advisor

About ten years ago I was one of the group of watchmaker in Wisconsin actively selling the idea of watchmaker licensing to the watchmakers and jewelers of the state. Since that time we have had over nine years of operation of our watchmaker licensing law. Now is a good time to look back and determine some of the benefits from such a program. Watchmaker licensing has proven to be the only method so far found, of assuring the public that the watchmaker standards are adequate, and secondly, assuring to the individual watchmaker that his standards also are adequate and to assure him of being a competent and successful watchmaker.

There is today no problem more important to all of us as Americans than the problem of assisting the returned veteran to adapt himself and to fit into civilian life. It is on just such a program that the licensing of watchmakers shows great advantages. In our state we now have a program of apprenticeship training which actually provides for every apprentice a well rounded horological education. We have done this throughout the state and included every apprentice watchmaker. A competent watchmaking instructor hired by the State Board of Vocational education through the cooperation of the local Vocational School travels the state giving just that theoretical and practical help that is so important to the watchmaker trainee. This plan assists the apprentice employer by relieving him of the of the training skills and theory that burden of giving to his apprentice all is necessary. Anyone who has had apprentices knows that it is quite a problem to work out a well-rounded training program to assure full training, if you must resort only to the day to day problems that come up in our shops.

States without watchmaker licensing cannot begin to hope to have such a training program. In fact, the apprenticeship system in general is ill ill repute among watchmakers throughout the nation because of its many weaknesses. Those weaknesses, however, are solved when you have a compulsory training program with a supervised instruction and training followed by an examination.

We have an obligation to the returned veteran. That obligation is not to assist him to go into a trade inadequately prepared, but rather to assure that he has all the training necessary to make the adjustment to civilian life which is more difficult than we civilians realize. 

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