Which areas of craft need my skills?

I'm a 46-year-old male and want to change career. For the previous few years I've worked in the construction industry doing specialist repairs, using close attention to detail and using colour matching skills.

I've always been good with my hands and make clay sculptures, including portraits, in my spare time. I would love to gain skills and work in a craft workshop to produce finished items.

I don't really know where to start and would like to learn skills that can lead to an employed position. Any advice? I know I'm being a bit vague, but I have so much interest in all creative, artistic and handmade crafts, it's really difficult to know where to start.

Are there any areas of the craft market that are resurgent and have a skills shortage? Thank you.

— Keith Gray

Expert answers

Wendy Shorter 's reply:

Hi Keith

This is a difficult one to answer without knowing what specific crafts really hold your interest.  All crafts require a good deal of attention to details and many have a shortage of skilled crafts people.  Unfortunately, there is virtually no funding for someone of your age.  Most employers wanting to take on an apprentice would be looking for someone under the age of 24 where they may be able to receive some sort of funding.  Anyone over the age of 24 will, therefore, always find this a challenge and will probably have to self-fund their basic skills.

I teach upholstery and soft furnishings so can only really comment from that perspective.  Once my students have achieved their qualifications and have a good understanding of the craft, I recommend that they make contact with practitioners in their area.  Once they start to show an interest in the business the employer may start to take them more seriously.  Others will often take their own work and ask to work alongside these professionals, gaining experience and knowledge without being too much of a burden on a small business.  If they are good, they are often then taken on.

Take a look at the Heritage Crafts Association's website: http://heritagecrafts.org.uk/ for more details about the various crafts being practiced and those that are in danger.

I hope this is helpful, but I'm sorry I can't be more positive about funding and employment opportunities.

Kind Regards


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