The post today is to answer a question asked of me by a nice young lady wanting to know about apprenticeships. The photo is just a random one I took at the end of the day on the job. We were waiting on the backhoe operator to come with the machine and get the tools to put up. We put them in the bucket of the machine and have him carry them to and from the shed as there are way too many for us to carry.
Anyway, Charlotte, to answer your question: There are different types of apprenticeships, depending on if it is a trade or craft you are learning, but basically you work for a journeyman or master doing all the tedious, everyday work of the craft in exchange for lessons taught by the craftperson. It is somewhat like a college degree as apprenticeships usually last 4 years and at the end you must pass certain tests etc. and produce work of a certain quality in order to be set up as a journeyman. In our line of work, the apprentices work on our jobs and at the same time attend school one day a week, in the afternoon, which is also taught by the older carpenters. In each class they are required to build at least one project and there is also written exams etc. I sometimes teach the welding class and during the last 2 weeks of class I require my boys to construct an item of their choosing. They have already spent the majority of the class time learning the technicalities of welding and then apply them to a project. Craft apprenticeships are similar in that you learn from the master as you work for them and then usually you are given use of the studio in the after hours to produce work of your own. Generally, the master will give you some guidelines about what they want you to make. Obviously, our apprentices are paid and I think most in the crafts receive at least some small stipend for their labor.
I will tell you this, most apprenticeships are designed to be somewhat hard. A lot of our boys have trouble with this idea on our jobs but it weeds out the ones who are not really interested in the work. As an apprentice you are the lowest man on the totem pole, if you know what I mean. The laborers even have authority over our apprentices. You will get every crap job there is. It's not meant to demean you in any way but you must learn every aspect, good and bad, of the craft you want to pursue. I have read that the potters apprentices in Japan must sweep the floor and clean up after the masters for 2 years before they are even allowed to touch any clay. We are not that bad on ours but they often complain that the foreman doesn't think the shovels fit anybody's hands but the apprentices.
I hope this info helps. Most women would do well to learn some kind of trade skills as it adds tremendously to your self confidence levels and self reliance.