Peter Keep – Industry Forum 2024

Peter Keep, CEO of Jewellery Training Services gives his insights into the successes and challenges of 2023 with hopes for the 2024 year.

Written by Jewellery World

Peter Keep
CEO, Jewellery Training Solutions

Can you share the mission and goals of Jewellery Training Solutions (JTS) and how it aims to contribute to the development of jewellers and the jewellery industry?

My mission is to provide a comprehensive online training service that offers affordable access to traditional jewellery-making skills for the next generation of aspiring jewellers. JTS also provides advanced upskilling courses such as stone setting for professional jewellers. With the continuing decline of jewellery schools, JTS has created a virtual school with a friendly online community of like-minded artisans committed to helping others achieve their goals.

What courses, techniques, or initiatives has JTS introduced or plans to introduce in 2024 to address the evolving needs of jewellery makers and designers?

Since I started JTS ten years ago, my focus has been on teaching skills and knowledge I’ve learned over my 45-year career. The video library now has over 3000 videos. However, it’s an ever-evolving industry, and bench jewellers need to constantly keep up to speed with new trends or techniques, myself included. This year, I have focused on creating courses requested by JTS users. So, I’ve introduced a series of drawing courses, and a series of courses, using different types of metals such as titanium, zirconium and tantalum. Looking at my 2024 lesson request list, I won’t be retiring anytime soon!

The shortage of apprenticeship positions is a concern in the industry. How does JTS work to bridge this gap and provide aspiring jewellers with opportunities to gain the necessary skills and experience?

During my time as a TAFE teacher, I saw apprentice numbers halve in just a few years. It was also becoming more and more difficult for apprentices to achieve the same outcomes as previous generations due to changes in the industry. CAD/CAM was replacing a lot of what used to be made by hand, so in a lot of workshops, traditional skills were not being passed on.

JTS was originally created to help bridge the skills gaps. Although a traditional apprenticeship is still the best option for aspiring jewellers, it’s not easy to find one. JTS can help to upskill potential apprentices or provide an alternative training pathway with our easy-to-follow online training plan. 

As a leader in your business, what is the single most important value you want to pass on to your students?

Jewellery-making is a form of art that demands precision and attention to detail. So, I would say, the single most important value is to strive for excellence. Excellence in craftsmanship ensures that every piece you create is of the highest quality and showcases your skill and dedication to your craft. It’s a wonderful craft to learn and master. But any jeweller will tell you, it’s not easy. So, without making a conscious commitment to learn without taking shortcuts, you will not excel.

What innovative approaches or technologies were employed in your operations or design processes in 2023, and what tech trends are you keeping an eye on for 2024?

During 2023, I developed an innovative stone setting tool that has been a huge success. The ‘Ezi-Set’ Pliers are specially designed for a variety of pressure setting techniques such as gypsy setting. This has inspired me to create more training products.

For future trends, I can see a growing demand for personalisation and customisation of jewellery. The jewellery industry feels the effect of the economic crisis worse than most other industries. So, I think a personal service such as redesigning and recycling jewellery will continue to be popular. The astute consumer will seek out jewellery stores that have an onsite jeweller who can offer a more personal service. 

As for the tech trends. I’m more in touch with the evolving online education revolution, and there are some exciting new website apps being rolled out in 2024. Online learning in the future promises to be a lot more interactive and exciting.  

Given your vast experience and knowledge, what advice do you have for aspiring jewellers and jewellery educators looking to make a positive impact on the industry and provide meaningful training and mentorship?

It has always been difficult for aspiring jewellers to find a place in the industry due to the reluctance of employers and educators to commit to teaching the next generation of jewellers.

Apprentices play a crucial role in shaping the future of the jewellery industry, and investment in their education and training will help to keep the industry healthy and vibrant. Learning from those who have a wealth of experience can be invaluable in their journey.

The good news is that the Government has stepped up to the skills shortage challenge in recent years and now offers more funding for all apprenticeships. It’s never been more viable and rewarding to take on an apprentice.  

So, my advice to those wanting to get into the industry is to skill up as best as you can before offering your service as an apprentice. You will have more chances of employment if you can make money for your boss sooner rather than later.

My advice to potential educators who have the passion to pass on their skills, and a spare bench is to contact Apprenticeship Support Australia to get advice and details about the support on offer. Believe me, there’s nothing more rewarding than teaching.

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