Apprenticeships and craft guilds in the Netherlands, 1600-1900

Number: 
80
Author: 
Schalk, R.

Few attempts have been made to systematically examine apprenticeship training between cities or crafts. This paper aims to contribute to such an overview by reviewing key characteristics of Dutch apprenticeships overseen by craft guilds. Data on hundreds of apprenticed adolescents from different crafts and different periods reveals striking similarities in the functioning of apprenticeships throughout the Netherlands. Apprenticeships here were relatively flexible, with agreements varying locally according to preferences of apprentices and masters. While exiting from contracts was easy and widespread, access to apprenticeships was possibly relatively limited due to guild regulations, not all masters engaged in training, and because sons of masters were frequently privileged. After the Dutch guilds were abolished apprenticeships may temporarily have become more accessible, but the institution appears to have declined with the onset of industrialisation.

 

Full text: