We started an apprenticeship program for cane weaving in 2018 and it succeeded beyond our expectations. We have now expanded the program to carpentry and polishing.
In 2018, due to a shortage of cane weavers from traditional weaving communities, we took in a few young apprentices and put them under the mentorship of the senior weavers. Our expectation was that they would learn a few basic skills and assist the experienced weavers. Much to our surprise, the apprentices not only learnt basic skills in peeling and preparing material, but picked up more complex weaving techniques. In a few months they could weave an entire seat or back on their own.
The Apprentice Team
We have a team of over ten weavers who joined as apprentices and are now full time employees. Their level of skill is on par, if not better than the community based weavers. More importantly, they have acquired a skill that can give them a livelihood as long as cane furniture is made. It also helps to preserve and propagate the craft beyond traditional communities.
Expanding the program to other departments
We constantly have young apprentices joining the cane weaving team. Seeing the success of the model for cane weaving, we have now expanded the program to carpentry and wood polishing. The first set of apprentices in these skills are now under training.