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Edited by the Hon. W. PEMBER REEVES, 

Director of the London School of Economics and Political Science. 

No. 39 in the Series of Monographs by Writers connected 
with the London School of Economics and Political Science. 





N. B. DEARLE, M.A., 

Fellow of All Souls' College, Oxford j Shaw 

Research Student of the London School 

of Economics and Political Science, 

1 907-9* 






THIS book has gradually grown to its present 
scope out of an enquiry into which I originally entered 
as Shaw Student of the London School of Economics. 
A previous investigation into the problems of unem- 
ployment in the London Building Trades had im- 
pressed upon me the great importance of the ques- 
tion of training, and led me to start to examine it 
in relation to this industry. It soon became obvious, 
however, that the investigation required to cover a 
far wider field, and, as its subject-matter broadened, 
its title mercifully narrowed, till what began as 
Modern Methods of Industrial Training in the Lon- 
don Building Trades took final shape as Industrial 

I have attempted to describe in my opening 
chapter the actual methods of enquiry which I 
adopted ; but there is one point that requires to be 
emphasized here. This is that the book is mainly 
a description of the methods and conditions prevail- 
ing in London. I have tried, indeed, to compare and 
contrast them with those of other cities ; but in the 
main it is an investigation of London, or rather of 
what is known nowadays as Greater London. 


This includes not only the County Area, but those 
surrounding districts which really combine with it 
to form a single whole. Its total population is just 
over 7,250,000, or rather more than one-fifth of 
the whole population of England and Wales. 

In applying to other places, however, the results 
of an enquiry into London conditions, there are 
two questions which have to be answered. First, 
are the trades of London sufficiently varied and 
representative for the purpose ? Here, with certain 
reservations, an affirmative reply can be given. 
It is true that a few large industries, notably coal- 
mining, the conversion of metals and the textiles 
are almost non-existent ; but apart from them, 
London practises a very large number of trades, and, 
even in proportion to its size, has a greater variety 
of employments than almost any other English 
city with the possible exception of Birmingham. 
On this point, therefore, a satisfactory answer is 

Secondly, do the methods of London fairly repre- 
sent those which generally prevail ? To a great 
extent, as I have found it necessary to emphasize 
more than once, the special acuteness of London 
problems is not due so much to causes that are in 
operation there and nowhere else as to the fact that 
they are found in it in a more extreme form and to a 
more marked degree. Thus what has been said of 
the decline of Formal Apprenticeship in the Capital, 
by no means holds good of other places. The mix- 


ture of methods, again, is in few other towns so 
extreme as it is in London. Still it is equally true 
that similar tendencies are in existence almost every- 
where, though they have not been carried so far. 
London, therefore, appears to exhibit not the aver- 
age, but the extreme, form of modern conditions, 
and this, in addition to its size and the variety of its 
industries, gives its methods of Industrial Training 
their very great importance. Modern problems 
have been developed most fully there, and their 
complications are the greatest. Consequently the 
difficulties of other places are the same, only less 
formidable, the remedies similar, but more simple. 
In conclusion, I wish to thank most heartily all 
those whose generous help and assistance has been 
most ungrudgingly given to me. To specify them 
individually would be impossible, for their name 
veritably would be legion ; but there are a few to 
whom I wish to accord individual mention. First 
of all, I would express very sincere gratitude to 
Professor Lees-Smith, M.P., under whom I have 
worked at the London School of Economics in the 
preparation and writing of this book, and to whose 
guidance and supervision I owe much ; and to Mr. 
L. L. Price, Treasurer of Oriel College, Oxford, who 
has helped me in ways too numerous to mention, 
and not least as a ready listener to many, and, I fear, 
long-winded discourses. I have also to thank most 
cordially those who have read and criticized in manu- 
script various parts of the proofs : Dr. Lilian Knowles, 


Reader in Economic History in the University of 
London, who has in many other ways also given 
most kind help and interest ; Mr. Cyril Jackson, 
L.C.C. ; Mr. W. H. Beveridge, Director of Labour 
Exchanges and Unemployment Insurance ; and Mr. 
R. H. Tawney. Nor must I omit to mention and 
acknowledge the help of others, of Mr. B. M. Headi- 
car, Librarian of the London School of Economics, 
for much assistance in getting the book through the 
press ; of Mr. Kenneth Cotton, who prepared the index ; 
and of Miss Marion Meadowcroft, who converted a 
particularly vile and involved manuscript into some 
of the clearest typing it has been my pleasure to use. 
To them and to all the others, who have so fully and 
freely helped me, I desire to express, however 
faultily, the gratitude that I feel, and to express also 
the hope that the results may be not altogether 
unworthy of their kindness. 

Finally, great as is my debt to them, I feel it is 
equalled and even surpassed by that which I owe 
to the London School of Economics and to All Souls 
College, Oxford. From the former I received the 
gift of a Shaw Research Studentship, founded by 
Mrs. Bernard Shaw, to whom also I wish to acknow- 
ledge my debt, for the purpose of encouraging 
enquiries such as I have tried to make this. I can 
safely say that this book could not have come into 
existence at all but for the School, and it now honours 
me by including it in its series of studies in Economics 
and Political Science. To it I am indebted for a 


great deal in this connection and for still more in 
other ways. 

To All Souls I owe more than I think I shall ever 
be able to express, and more certainly than I can 
venture to try to express here. It is only of the 
present book, therefore, that I wish to speak now. 
For certainly, were it not for the Fellowship in 
Economics, to which I was elected in 1909, it could 
never have reached the dimensions it has done. It 
is through the College, therefore, that I was able to 
obtain the time and the leisure to treat the matter 
even as fully as I have done. 

It only remains for me to leave this book, now 
that it at last sees the light, to the kindness of 
its readers. Its appearance is only after too many 
delays, and I can but acknowledge the patience 
and forbearance of those concerned. I can only 
hope that it may prove to have justified them. 


June, 1914. 



PREFACE ....... v 


I. Scope of the Problem. 
II. Trades and Industries of London. 






LABOURING . . . . . . .116 













(a) The Blind Alley. (b) The Partial Blind Alley. 

(c) Wasteful Recruiting of Trades and Occupations. 

(d] Conclusion. 


I. The Influence of Industrial Training upon Un- 

II. The Influence of Unemployment upon Industrial 

(a) The Influence of the Long Period Demand for 
Labour : (i) On the Other Causes of Unemploy- 
ment, (ii) On Boy Labour and Industrial Training. 

(b) The Existing State of Employment : (i) 
Among Men, (ii) Among Boys. 

III. Concluding Summary. 


TION ........ 496 

I. The Problems. 

II. The Needs of the Situation : (a) The Organization 
of Boy Labour, (b) Industrial Education and General 
Education in relation thereto. 

III. Scheme in Outline and Summary. 

IV. Conclusion. 


I Forms used and Questions asked in Approaching 
Employers, Foremen, Trade Union Officials 
and Others 555 

II Tables Illustrating in Detail the Trade Distri- 
bution of the Population in London and in the 
Rest of England and Wales . . . 558 

III Tables Illustrating the Attendance at Trade 

and Continuation Schools in London . . 563 



IV Tables Illustrating the Changes in the Percent- 
ages of Unemployment from 1870-1909 . 568 

V The Telegraph Messenger and the Vanboy . 571 

VI National Insurance and Boy Labour . . 577 

VII By-Laws in Force in London Dealing with the 
Employment of Children and with Street 

Trading by Young Persons .... 580 

VIII The most Important Clauses of the Children (Em- 
ployment and School Attendance) Bill of 1914 583 

INDEX ......... 589 



I. Scope of the Problem. Scope of the Problem of Industrial Train- 

ing Its Meaning Occupations covered by the Term Indus- 
trial Relation of the Problem to the Apprenticeship Question 
Difficulty of using the phrase Industrial Training Problem 
a Threefold One First Main Question : How Boys learn trades 
Second Main Question : How Boys are taught trades Third 
Main Question : How Boys do not learn trades Method of 
Treatment to be followed in the rest of the book' Method of 
Enquiry and Assistance received. 

II. Trades and Industries of London. Numbers engaged in the 
Chief Industries of London Difficulties of Making an 
Accurate Estimate How Overcome ? Size of the Chief In- 
dustrial Groups : in London, in Greater London, in the Rest 
of England and Wales Industries which do not exist in London 
-Industries which are unusually large there Commercial and 
Distributive Work The Different Kinds of Employment and 
the Numbers engaged in them General Features of London 
Industry Summarized. 


THE subject of Industrial Training is one which can be 
given either a wide or a narrow scope, and therefore it is 
necessary to begin by defining clearly the ground which 
our treatment of it will cover. For it is one that borders 
upon, and frequently overlaps, a variety of others. Training 
for a trade involves considerations of the methods by which 
it is recruited. Still more does it necessitate enquiry into 
the instruction given in Trade or Technical Schools, since 
this at present plays an important part in it. Above all, 

1 B 

IV / 

? 5 54 ; ( ' : ^ INDUSTRIAL TRAINING. 

it is so inextricably interwoven with the question of Boy 
Labour, that the two problems have to be considered 
together. For those who deal with Industrial Training are 
not unconcerned with its failures and their causes, whether 
these occur because the attempt to acquire a trade is unsuc- 
cessful or because it is never made at all. The matter, the re- 
fore, cannot be limited to its narrowest sense or regarded 
simply as a question of how various occupations are actually 
taught to the boys who enter them ; for an adequate treat- 
ment of it requires that full account shall be taken of its 
various antecedents and accompaniments. 

In the first place, therefore, the meaning of the term 
industrial requires definition. Roughly speaking, it covers 
the manual workers generally, and so coincides fairly 
closely with the distinction between Industry and Commerce 
in the wider sense. For most purposes, therefore, we shall 
exclude from the enquiry men and boys engaged in profes- 
sional and commercial employments, and in the literary 
and artistic professions, in the services naval, military 
and police and in the mercantile marine. Nor will it deal 
directly with the actual training of those who are described 
in the census as dealers, shop-keepers, shop-assistants and 
the like. 

These latter have, nevertheless, an important influence 
upon the general problem in so far as they employ as boys 
those whom they cannot absorb as men, or so far as they 
find openings in adult processes for those who have been 
otherwise engaged during boyhood. This is also true of the 
lower ranks of commercial occupations, and notably of 
office and messenger boys. Another interesting case arises 
where, as with bakers, one class of workmen is engaged in 
wholesale manufacture and another in retail distribution. 
As a whole, however, this book deals primarily with what 
may be called the manual workers engaged in industry, 
but to the term industry, a wide meaning is given. 

Secondly, within the trades concerned, the artisan and 
semi-skilled workers must be distinguished, both from those 
who fill the higher posts, and from the so-called unskilled 


workers. With the former this book is not directly con- 
cerned and will not, therefore, cover the training of the 
employers themselves, their salaried staff and the various 
technical experts engaged in the work, or that of foremen 1 
and clerks of the works. To this, however, there are certain 
exceptions. There is the question whether the training 
given to our artisans in the workshop or Trade School will 
enable them to rise to fill, and to fill efficiently, such higher 
posts, and how far existing methods provide a sufficiency 
of men for the latter. 

Again, unskilled labour will receive a less full treat- 
ment, since what it requires is not so much training as the 
development of good industrial habits, steadiness, regularity 
and the like. Much work, however, is loosely referred to 
as such, which on examination has to be ranked as semi- 
skilled ; and in relation to certain sides of the problem 
the question of the recruiting of this type of worker is of 
great importance. When we deal, moreover, with the rea- 
sons for the presence of unskilled labour and for its presence 
in such large and often excessive quantities, we reach one 
of the most vital problems of all namely the causes, extent 
and results of the failure of our existing methods. Above 
all, holding, as one must, the view that such labour is, and 
is likely to remain, an essential part of our industrial system, 
it is necessary to enquire carefully how such positions are 
filled and by whom, how they actually are fitted to fill them, 
and how they can best be so fitted. 

Now, in dealing with the matter on these lines, one is 
struck by the very significant extent to which the term 
apprentice actually survives to-day ; and this suggests 
that the frequent and confident assertion that " Apprentice- 
ship is dead " may be the result of a too hasty diagnosis. 
This matter will be treated more fully later, but at the 
present day the term is often used to denote practically all 

1 It is necessary to distinguish between the general or " walking" 
foreman and the foreman at the head of a department in a large 
firm, and the " working " foreman in a small shop who overlooks 
the men and works at the bench at the same time. 


boys who are learning a trade, whether they are working 
under an Indenture or not. The problem is thus really 
that of Apprenticeship considered in a wider sense, and, 
when so defined, covers the extent of its survival and the 
alternative devices by which it has been replaced. Hence 
it is a sufficient illustration of the extension of the enquiry 
to say that it is coincident with what is usually known as 
the Apprenticeship Question. 

In one respect the title of this book is an unfortunate 
one. The word " Training " naturally carries with it the 
idea of certain things, and especially that of systematic 
regulations for imparting knowledge. To talk of Industrial 
Training or its methods, therefore, suggests the careful 
organization of teaching. Outside of a few trades, however, 
one of the characteristics of modern London is the absence 
of any system or uniformity. Usually a trade can be learnt 
and taught in a variety of ways, and in individual cases the 
work is often very carefully done. But on a more general 
view the existing state of affairs is the very reverse of what 
the idea of training conveys. The conditions under which 
boys are engaged and paid often render systematic methods 
impossible ; and so the workman, instead of being taught 
his business, may rather be said to " get to know " it, or 
in the better-known phrase " he just picks it up." 

The use of the expression Industrial Training, therefore, 
contains no necessary reference to any systematic teaching. 
What will be done, will be to describe how the boy of to-day 
starts in life, and how he " gets to know " a trade. In 
so doing, it will be necessary to point out the difference 
between the results flowing from this " getting to know " 
and those that are attained in such trades as possess a 
proper system in the true sense. Present conditions involve, 
moreover, a further very considerable amount of " not 
getting to know," and, therefore, to the main subject of 
" how boys learn trades " must be added the scarcely less 
important one of " how boys do not learn trades." 

The problem, in fact, is threefold. First, there is that 
of how boys learn, which covers the different modes in 


which they enter an occupation, and the form of industrial 
engagement under which they work. This involves ques- 
tions such as Regular Service in one firm versus Migration, 
the apprentice and the improver, " picking up/' working 
as a mate and so on. It also considers the question of 
whether any contract to teach is actually entered into, and 
if so, what are its conditions, and also whether it still guar- 
antees actual teaching or merely gives the " opportunity 
to learn." 

Secondly, there is the problem of how boys are taught. 
The distinction between this and the preceding one may 
not be very clear, but it is nevertheless of some importance. 
For having discovered the general terms and conditions 
under which a boy sets out to acquire a trade, we then 
have to consider how these are carried out in detail. The 
former are important and will vary in value according as 
they are adapted to the trade concerned ; but the way in 
which they are actually carried out is of equal moment. 
Under this heading, therefore, are included the different 
arrangements made for teaching, the part played in them 
by the employer, the foreman and the boy's fellow-workmen, 
the relation of the shop to the Trade School, and various 
questions regarding wages, hours and other conditions. 
This second problem, indeed, is very closely allied to the 
first and often their results vary together. But this is 
not always so. For, on the one hand, the actual teaching 
may be excellent where there is no definite system, and 
on the other regular Apprenticeship may be used by a 
certain type of firm as a means of exploitation. 

Moreover, existing methods have to be judged, not only 
by their value to the boys who actually do fit themselves 
for definite occupations, 1 but also by the proportion which 
these bear to the whole boyhood of the nation. Hence a 
third problem arises, as to how, and why, boys do not learn 
trades, and this is what is known as the problem of Boy 

1 The term occupation may be used to denote all employments, 
of whatever level of skill, which give a permanent livelihood at a 
man's wage. \ 


Labour. It is a necessary part of that of Industrial Train- 
ing, because the effectiveness of any system must be judged 
by its results as a whole, that is, not only by those it does 
train more or less successfully, but by those whom it fails 
to train at all. We have to discover, therefore, the extent 
to which existing methods cause, or fail to prevent, a portion 
of each generation from growing up without either a trade 
or a settled occupation of any kind, and the character and 
causes of this wastage. This subject, therefore, includes 
not only Blind Alley employments which come to an end 
after the close of boyhood, but the shifting of boys casually 
from one unskilled job to another, the putting of them to 
unsuitable employments, and the generally wasteful methods 
of recruiting a great number of trades. 

To deal with this threefold problem, therefore, the follow- 
ing method will be adopted. After the more important 
terms have been defined, the existing state of affairs in 
London will be briefly described, with particular reference 
to its special peculiarities and difficulties. Each of the 
chief methods of learning a trade will then be separately 
dealt with, the area which it covers will be considered, and 
its value estimated. Coming to the second problem, the 
ways of selecting a job and making a start in life will lead 
naturally to the actual means of teaching adopted in different 
workshops. This again will be followed by the work of 
continued education, whether in trade, technical or ordinary 
evening schools, and by a brief consideration of the in- 
fluence exerted by the increased use of machinery and by 
the influx of provincial workmen into London. After this 
I shall deal with the problems of Boy Labour. Finally, in 
surveying the whole, I shall consider the relation of methods 
of training to Unemployment, and summarize both the 
work of existing agencies and the chief proposals now before 
the public. Future policy can then be considered in refer- 
ence to its two main lines of development the Organization 
of Boy Labour and improved Industrial Education. 

My enquiry has been confined to the training of boys 
and no attempt has been made to deal with that of girls. 


For with the latter so many considerations enter which are 
not present in the case of the former, and a woman's con- 
nexion with industry differs so much from that of a man, 
that it seemed wiser to confine oneself to the one sex. The 
women's question, I am aware, is no less urgent and equally 
needs investigation : but in many respects it is a second 
separate problem rather than a branch of the same one ; 
and to consider the two together would only create confu- 

In carrying out this enquiry I usually adopted a method 
that was somewhat as follows. In each case I took, to 
begin with, certain trades or groups of trades, and obtained 
interviews with as many members of them as time per- 
mitted employers, foremen, representatives of the work- 
men and the boys themselves. It was thus possible to get 
at least a fair sample of each and of the method or methods 
employed in it. For this purpose I drew up a series of 
questions, copies of which are printed in an appendix, 
which enabled me to give those from whom I was seeking 
information a clearer view of my objective. The Trade 
Schools and Technical Institutes gave me my best oppor- 
tunity of getting into touch with the boys themselves : 
and thanks to the courtesy of Principals and Teachers, I 
was able to interview a number who were actually engaged 
in learning different industries. I also carried my enquiry 
into the side of the subject that is connnected with the work 
of the School Care Committees and with the placing of 
boys in employment through Labour Exchanges and other 

In conclusion, I desire to record my most sincere thanks 
for the uniform kindness and courtesy with which I have 
been received on all sides, and for the immense amount 
of trouble that has been taken on my behalf. Above all, 
for the way in which I was received by employers of labour 
and their foremen, I can never be sufficiently grateful. To 
many of them I was practically a complete stranger, yet 
only in the very rarest cases was information refused, even 
where the giving of it occupied a considerable amount of 



time. But from all sides the assistance accorded to 
me was very great, and officials of Labour Exchanges, 
of Trade Unions and of other Societies, and, above all, the 
Principals and Instructors of Trade Schools were quite 
ungrudging in their help. The only return, beyond these 
few feeble words of acknowledgment, which I can make to 
all this kindness, is that of using to the best of my ability 
the information placed so generously at my disposal. 


I shall conclude this chapter by a brief analysis of the 
numbers of male persons employed in the chief industries 
of London. In attempting to obtain an accurate estimate 
of these, much difficulty is caused by the necessity of 
including those surrounding areas which are covered by the 
name of Outer London. For some time past London has 
been extending itself" into suburban districts, which have 
come more and more to act as the " dormitories " of those 
who are working during the daytime within the county 
boundaries, whilst some manufacturers have also removed 
their works into them. To the whole area, which includes 
both the County and the Outer Ring, the name of Greater 
London may be given. 

The recent Census in its Preliminary Report and Tables i 
gave the following return of the total numbers living in the 
Urban and Rural Districts of Outer London : 







Q ^ IQ 


148 48=; 

23 8^=; 


i 078 ^^6 


48 1^8 




Total : Outer Ring of London . 



Cd. 5705 of 1911. 


So far the matter is fairly simple. The difficulty really 
begins with the investigation of the numbers employed in 
separate industries, and more particularly in individual 
trades, since detailed returns for some of the latter are 
not given in all cases. Moreover, the trade distribution of 
a County as a whole is not necessarily the same as its London 
areas. This is particularly true of Kent, which employs 
considerable numbers in certain small trades, such as paper 
and cement making, which are practically non-existent in 
any part of London. Compared, therefore, with the County 
of London, for which actual returns are available, some 
of the figures for Outer London * can only represent a rough 
approximation. . 

In arriving at an estimate I have omitted the very smal] 
proportion of the population of the latter that is living 
in rural districts. For the urban I have made it on the 
following lines. 2 Middlesex presents no difficulty, since all 
its urban districts are inside the outer boundaries of London. 
In the case of Essex, the returns for its five chief urban areas 
are taken, since detailed figures are available for them and 
not for the others. They are the Boroughs of East and 
West Ham and the Districts of Ilford, Leyton and Waltham- 
stow. All the urban districts of Surrey are included, and 
those of Kent are entirely omitted. For the reasons already 
given, the trade distribution of the latter county is different 
from that of its London districts, whilst that of Surrey is 
likely to be similar : and to omit the one and include the 
whole of the other promises to give a more accurate estimate. 
The numbers added in the case of Surrey are not very much 
larger than those omitted in that of Kent. -Finally, as 
the Hertfordshire urban districts are very largely dependent 
upon London, even if they are not within its actual boun- 
daries, a large proportion of them two-thirds has been 

1 Except in the case of Middlesex. 

2 The method adopted which appears to be the best available 
I owe to the kind suggestions of Professor A. L. Bowley, to whom 
I wish to express my gratitude for kind help and criticism in connexion 
with the statistical subjects of this book. 


taken. 1 Where separate returns are given for individual 
trades in London and not in the counties, the relative pro- 
portions between them have been taken to be the same in 
the latter as in the former. 

The following table gives the totals of men and boys 
over ten years of age engaged in the chief occupation 
groups in the County of London, in Outer London, in the 
whole of Greater London, and in the Rest of England and 
Wales. It also shows the proportional size of every such 
group by showing the numbers employed in it for each 
10,000 of- the occupied population. 

This table illustrates the chief characteristics of London 
industry. Natural and other causes have brought about 
the almost entire absence of certain occupations notably 
Agriculture, Mining and Quarrying, Fishing and the Textile 
Trades. Together these four account for about 2,660,000 
male persons out of about 9,289,000 in the rest of England 
and Wales. The absence of three of them is due to purely 
natural causes which are partly responsible in the case of 
the fourth, the Textile Trades. 2 Those Londoners shown 
to be employed in these groups are mainly occupied in 
retail work and in certain small trades like rope and canvas 
making, whilst more than two-thirds of those classified under 
Agriculture are nursery gardeners, though some living on 
the very outskirts are no doubt actual agricultural labourers. 
The rest were probably either owners or employers or too 
newly arrived in London to have found a new occupation. 
Other trades which hardly exist there, include the making 
(as distinct from the working) of iron, steel and other metals, 
the cutlery and allied trades and the manufacture of bricks, 

1 "The net result of this method of estimating is to reduce the 
total population of Greater London by some 150,000, or about 
6 per cent. The omissions consist of about 1 80,000 in the rural districts, 
and 148,000 and 89,000 respectively in the urban districts of Kent 
and Essex. In the urban areas of Surrey and Hertfordshire the 
numbers included exceed those returned for Greater London by 
about 183,000 and 84,000 respectively. 

2 Dealers account for 27,663 male workpeople out of a total of 34,523 
in the textile trades, and for 3,294 out of 5,947 in mining and quar- 






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cement and paper, and, except in one or two branches, 
of glass and pottery. 1 Again in Engineering and the 
Metal Trades generally London employs less than the 
normal proportion, except in electrical work and in one or 
two smaller branches, such as tinsmithing. In Engineering 
proper there is comparatively little new construction, and 
this is even more true of Boilermaking and Ship-building 
in which London has ceased to be anything more than a 
repairing centre. 

On the other hand, London shows an enormous preponder- 
ance in Commercial, Transport and Distributive Work. 
In 1911 the two former employed respectively 1,072 and 
1,671 per 10,000 of the population in Greater London as 
compared with 466 and 1,117 m the rest of England and 
Wales, whilst dealers and shopkeepers reached 1,263 in the 
case of the former and only 80 1 in that of the latter. To- 
gether this means that these occupations employ in London 
more than 350 ,000 persons beyond the normal proportions. 2 

Nor is London's advantage confined to them ; for it is 
almost equally great in some classes of manual labour, and 
among these are included some industries in which the level 
of skill is highest. This advantage is greatest relatively 
in the Paper and Printing trades, in the Precious Metals and 
Instruments group, and in Wood, Furniture and Leather 
work. It is somewhat less marked, but still very consider- 
able, in the Building Trades. Together these five sections 
employ in Greater London about 180,000 workers more 
than the normal. There is also some excess in certain 
other cases in which the level of capacity is on the whole 
lower, notably in the Clothing and Boot Trades, in some forms 
of food production, and in the manufacture of candles, soap, 
glue and similar products. 

When the comparison is made between the actual size of 
different occupation groups in London, rather than between 

1 Also salt, alkali, felt hats, gloves and straw plaits. 

2 The proportion per 10,000 of the population for the Rest of 
England and Wales is regarded here as the normal proportion, and 
not that for the whole of them, including Greater London. 


their relative positions there and elsewhere, Conveyance 
of Men, Goods and Messages is easily the largest, employing 
over 355,000 in Greater London, and Commercial Occupa- 
tions (224,846) come next. Of the more purely industrial 
sections that of House Building and Works of Construction, 
which also includes more than 200,000 workers, is easily 
the largest, with the Engineering and Metal Group second 
with 173,756, or, exclusive of dealers, 163,246. Other impor- 
tant industries are Clothing (107,067), Paper and Printing 
(90,748), and Woodworking and Furniture (81,691). The 
Precious Metals and Instruments Group employs 39,346, 
and the Skins, Leather and Hair Trades 25,400. l 

More fully to understand, however, the distribution of 
London industry between different classes and grades of 
labour, a different subdivision of employments has been 
made under the following headings : 

A. Industries almost non-existent in London. These 
are Agriculture (except Market Gardening), Mining and 
Quarrying, the Textile Trades, the Conversion of Metals 
and the Manufacture of Salt and Alkali. Wherever pos- 
sible, however, dealers have been excluded and placed in 
with the Distributive Trades. 

B. Clerical Employments. 

C. Higher Branches of Labour, other than Manual and 
Clerical (including the Police, Private Coachmen, Grooms 
and Chauffeurs, Cooks and Waiters in Hotels and Restaur- 
ants, and so on). They have been classed separately from 
skilled manual labour, but appear to possess a similar social 

D. Skilled Manual Labour. 

E. Semi-Skilled Manual Labour. 

F. Unskilled Manual Labour. 

G. Distributive Trades. 

1. Dealers and Shopkeepers. 2 

2. Hotel, Eating House, and Public House, Service. 

3. Messengers, Porters and Newsboys. 

1 The question of the Distribution of Londoners between trades 
and occupations is considered in fuller detail in Appendix II. 

2 This Class includes all Dealers in the products of the twenty- 


H. Employers, the higher Professional and Commercial 
Employments, and the Higher Ranks of Manual Labour 
(Foremen, etc.). These are only taken where classified 
under a separate heading, and do not by any means repre- 
sent the whole number of employers, as where they are 
included in the total of an industry they have not been 

K. Miscellaneous Employments, difficult to classify else- 
where, the most important being the Army and Navy, 
the Mercantile Marine and the Teaching Profession. 

These classes cover the whole of London industry. 
The estimate of the numbers to be included in each of 
them was necessarily rough, especially in the case of 
the skilled, semi-skilled and unskilled manual workers. 
Trades were allocated so far as possible to one grade or 
other according to the amount of skill which appeared to be 
involved. When there were different grades of labour within 
a trade, its workers were then divided between them in such 
proportion as seemed likely to meet each case, and where 
possible, official reports on wages were used to get an 
approximate idea of this. 

Finally, to sum up the general position of London in- 
dustry, its most marked features are the very large amount 
of clerical employment it affords and the very great promi- 
nence of transport, dealing and distributive work. Altogether, 
with the addition of the police force and the domestic ser- 
vices, they employ more than half the population. The 
manual trades are on the whole in a deficiency, largely owing 
to the absence, mainly from natural causes, of certain large 
industries, and to a lesser degree to the comparatively 
small size of some others. Nevertheless, London has a 

two main groups for whom separate figures are given, and also the 
following occupations : Art Dealers : Oil and Colourmen : Ironmon- 
gers : Stationers : Booksellers and Newsagents : Drapers and Linen 
, Drapers : Clothiers : Hosiers : Milkmen : Cheesemongers : Butchers : 
Fishmongers : Poulterers : Corn Merchants : Confectioners and 
Bakers in retail work : Grocers : Greengrocers : Fruiterers : Tobac- 
conists : General Shopkeepers : Pawnbrokers : Costers and Street 


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great artisan population spread over a large number of 
employments, and in some of them it has obtained a pre- 
ponderating share. These last include some of the most 
highly skilled occupations of all. In size the most important 
of them are Building, Printing and Bookbinding, the Precious 
Metals and Implements Group, v and the Woodworking 

The third of these needs further mention. It is a collection 
of comparatively small industries in nearly all of which 
London has a marked preponderance. To it should be 
added certain other small trades placed by the Census in the 
Engineering and Metal Group. It then includes gold and 
silver smiths, silver spinners, chasers, engravers, jewellers, 
die sinkers, diamond setters and mounters and general 
art metal workers. The Precious Metal Trades alone really 
form a group of their own, but with them are also 
included the various employments devoted to the making 
of surgical and scientific instruments and to the manufac- 
ture and repair of watches and clocks. Finally, there is 
the pianoforte trade, which again is subdivided into an 
almost bewildering variety of processes. 

Again, in leather work London employed in 1911 an 
excess of workers in almost every branch. There is a large 
tailoring industry employing various grades of labour, from 
the highly skilled workmen of the retail (bespoke) trade 
to the sweated women workers. The manufacture of boots 
and shoes also employs a large number and is mainly semi- 
skilled factory work. It also, however, provides a good deal 
of high grade labour in the bespoke trade. Again, in the 
Engineering and Metal Group, though the conversion of 
the ore into metal is not carried out in London, though 
there is comparatively little founding, and though ship- 
building is almost entirely confined to repair work, yet in 
some of the most important branches there is only a moder- 
ate deficiency, and London still appears to be the chief centre 
of some of the smaller ones. 

Such in brief is the industrial character of London. The 
figures given here, it must be repeated, are only a rough 


estimate. Apart from the County of London, the Census 
did not give the minuter details, and so the numbers engaged 
had to be estimated, as had the proportions of skilled and 
other workers. The description that has been given, there- 
fore, can claim at best only an approximation to accuracy, 
though it does profess to give a fair general picture of the 
conditions of London Industry. 


Loose popular Use of Terms Apprentice and Apprenticeship : 
Original Meaning Generic Uses Regular Service ; Its 
Forms : Formal Apprenticeship, Verbal Apprenticeship, Em- 
ployment during Good Behaviour, Working and Learning 
The Learner Possible Use of the Term Relation to Forms of 
Regular Service The Improver : Original Meaning The 
Migratory Improver ; His Characteristics Lad, Boy Follow - 
ing-Up : Working in Pairs, Mates ; Working in Squads 
Method of Following-Up Picking Up : Possible Meaning ; 
Limitation to Semi-skilled Labour Characteristic of New 
Classification of Methods Boy Labour Its Two Meanings 
Its Three Forms : Blind Alleys ; Partial Blind Alleys ; Waste- 
ful Recruiting of Skilled Trades Real Nature of the Boy 
Labour Problem Skilled, Semi-skilled and Unskilled Labour 
Possible Classification and Definition ; (i) By Wages Received, 
(2) By Length and Character of Training Other Possible 
Classifications of Labour. 

MANY of the terms in common vogue in connexion with 
this subject are used very loosely indeed in popular dis- 
course, and their different meanings, therefore, require 
careful preliminary consideration. One instance of the 
confusion which may arise has already occurred. To the 
ordinary observer the phrase Industrial Training implies 
some systematic mode of taking boys and imparting know- 
ledge to them. But if this, its natural meaning, were to 
be rigidly adhered to, it would narrow too much the scope 
of the enquiry. For under present conditions a large num- 
ber of workers are not trained in the strict sense, but " get 
to know " their trades, and therefore the subject is rather 
how they do the latter, whether by definite training, by 
teaching themselves, or by " picking them up " more or 
less haphazard. With most of the terms indeed the diffi- 
culty lies in the number of separate shades of meaning 



which attach to them, and it is necessary to state what 
these are and then to choose those which correspond most 
nearly to the actual facts. 

The first which need consideration are those of Appren- 
tice and Apprenticeship. It is not necessary to go back to 
their etymological origin. But originally Apprenticeship 
signified a definite legal agreement by which the boy was 
bound to his master for so many years to learn his trade. 
Each side strictly contracted with the other, the one to give 
service, the other instruction, and the contract was legally 
enforceable. Under the Domestic System, this method 
was almost universal. Now, however, the legally binding 
agreement is only one device among many and in some 
trades, notably in London, it is the exception rather 
than the rule. Strictly speaking, therefore, the term only 
applies to such formal indentures, and sometimes it still 
has this meaning attached to it. At others it obtains a 
far wider signification. 

By many persons, more particularly employers of labour 
and their foremen, it is used generically to cover the posi- 
tion of all those boys who are learning a trade under what- 
ever form of engagement : and therefore, where appren- 
tices are said to be taken, a further inquiry is usually neces- 
sary to discover the conditions under which they are em- 
ployed. To take apprentices does not necessarily involve 
the existence of a binding by indenture ; and sometimes 
where I was informed that no apprentices were taken, 
further inquiry showed that no boys at all were being taught. 
Thus the term is applied to practically all who are in a firm 
for the purpose of learning, usually with the proviso that 
there is some idea or understanding to this effect. For 
instance, the boy or youth who is merely spending a cer- 
tain time in a workshop and learning what he can before 
moving elsewhere, would hardly be included under even 
the widest sense in which it is used. But the word would 
apply to all boy learners whose engagement and employ- 
ment are actually permanent. For, as will appear later, the 
most important distinction to-day is not between the bound 


and unbound learner, but between the permanent and non- 
permanent engagement, or in other words between Regular 
Service in one firm and Migration from one to another. 
The generic use of the term Apprentice, therefore, marks 
an important practical distinction in present-day conditions. 

There are, however, a number of different forms which 
such Regular Service or permanent engagement may take ; 
and the difference between them is important. Of these 
some four may be distinguished. First there is Appren- 
ticeship in its original sense with a definite binding agree- 
ment. Secondly, there is the unbound apprentice, to 
whom the name of learner is sometimes applied. He is 
usually employed under an agreement that he shall remain 
so many years, receive a certain fixed amount of wages, 
rising year by year, and be taught, or given opportunity to 
learn, the trade. Neither side is legally bound, but there 
is an understanding that the boy shall not be dismissed 
except for misconduct, nor leave the firm except for ill- 
treatment or failure to teach. This understanding is usually 
observed, and in one or two trades this Verbal Apprentice- 
ship, as it is often called, is the normal method of engage- 
ment. It marks an intermediate use of the term Appren- 
ticeship, since some persons utilise it in all cases where 
an agreement of any sort exists, but in no others. 

The third form of Regular Service may be defined as 
Employment during Good Behaviour and resembles in 
many ways that just described. There is a tacit under- 
standing that the boy shall stay as long as he is satisfactory, 
shall get certain rises of wages and, if he shows himself 
suitable, be given the chance to learn. But there is no 
agreement of any sort, formal or verbal : the boy only 
stays as long as the employer cares to keep him and he to 
stay ; and he is a worker who may be called upon 
to make himself generally useful. Thus many such lads 
start as errand boys and are only gradually promoted to 
the bench. Others at first will only work at it in their spare 
time, being mainly engaged in running errands, or they 
will sometimes do the latter in the morning and the former 


in the afternoon. Sometimes the line dividing the second 
and third classes is very thin : but the absence of any 
actual agreement to teach is important. For one thing, 
the employer is not in this case bound to teach and so the 
boy may have to wait till opportunity arises. But in many 
instances he works as steadily with one firm, even if he does 
not learn so quickly, as he would do where an agreement 
exists. Decent firms make a point of not dismissing such 
boys, and decent boys remain so long as their treatment 
is satisfactory. 

Finally there is the form of engagement which may best 
be described as " working and learning." In such cases, 
which are not uncommon, a boy simply gets a job at his 
trade at whatever wages he can command and gradually 
works his way up, being promoted from one thing to another 
within the firm, and his wages rising with the value of what 
he does, He is, of course, always liable to dismissal, but 
many such boys do get regular employment during the 
time that they are learning, 

All we can say of these four classes is that dismissals are 
more common in the fourth than in the third, in the third 
than in the second and in the second than in the first. This 
shows further the importance of the actual fact of perman- 
ence. If the boy is kept on, his position is one of Regu- 
lar Service, if he is compelled to wander from firm to firm, 
he falls into another class. The vital distinction rests on 
the permanence of the engagement and not on the exist- 
ence or non-existence of a contract of service. 

Before considering, however, the sense in which the 
term Apprenticeship can best be used, it is necessary to 
consider the meaning to be attached to the word " Learner." 
The term is one of recent growth. Hitherto it has been given 
either no very clear meaning, or else one that is so wide as 
to be almost valueless. It is more commonly used in refer- 
ence to girls. With the various Associations that are deal- 
ing with the placing of boys, however, it has obtained a 
very definite signification. Those whom they place are 
divided into two classes apprentices formally bound and 


learners under a verbal agreement. The employers also 
sometimes use the two terms in a similar sense. Perhaps, 
however, the latter can be most usefully employed to signify 
all boys engaged under any form of Regular Service other 
than Formal Apprenticeship, and in this sense it will be 
generally used. Sometimes, on the other hand, it will be 
necessary to apply it in its most general sense to cover all 
who are actually learning, and to contrast the boy learner 
with the boy labourer. 

It seems best, therefore, in dealing with the class we have 
just described that is to say, those who learn under a 
continuous engagement to adopt the expression learning 
by or under Regular Service. Apprentice and Apprentice- 
ship, without qualification, may be confined to the formal 
indenture, and the term Verbal Apprenticeship to agree- 
ments of the second kind. The term learner will then, as 
just described, be useful to distinguish informal service 
generally from formal, especially when, as in Chapter X, 
it is necessary to contrast the two. The other two forms 
of Regular Service may then be denoted in the phrases 
already used, as " employment during good behaviour" 
and " working and learning," 

Another common expression is that of Improver. Origin- 
ally it signified a young worker who had served his Appren- 
ticeship and, not yet being a fully competent workman, 
was engaged for the time being at a lower rate than the 
latter could command, until he had made himself fully 
efficient. This is one of the senses in which it is still used : 
and where some form of Regular Service is predominant, 
such improvers as there are, are of this type. The number 
of such improvers is being further increased by the grow- 
ing practice in one or two trades of binding for a shorter 
period of three or four years, which is found to give a youth 
sufficient grounding to make him a *' good improver " and 
enable him to work his way up either in his own or another 
firm. The demand, for such an engagement, indeed, is 
increasing and likely to continue to do so, more particu- 
larly where modern conditions render it difficult, if not 


impossible, for any one firm to teach the whole of a trade. 

This, indeed, really constitutes a partial modification 
of the Regular Service rather than an alternative method. 
In some industries, howeVer, the custom of moving about 
from firm to firm almost from the very beginning has created 
a new and distinct type of improver. For workers may 
thus be described who in this way " pick up " their trades 
without entering into any engagement for the purpose or 
enjoying continuity of employment over an extended period. 
The process is as follows. A lad starts in a shop and gets 
some slight knowledge of his trade, which he may do in 
various ways. Having accomplished this he moves about 
to one firm after another, acquiring one thing here, another 
there, either as he needs new experience or wants higher 
pay or because he has been dismissed from his previous 
job. This modern type again resembles the older one both 
in the fact that improvement is still needed to make him 
a tradesman, and also for the reason that he has already 
made some progress ; for no one will rank as an improver 
until he has acquired some knowledge of the trade upon 
which to improve. 

The vital fact in his position, however, is that he is em- 
ployed and paid almost entirely as a wage-earner. This 
marks the great distinction between him and the first three 
forms of Regular Service. The latter give an agreement, 
or at least there is an understanding, that the learner shall 
either be taught or given the opportunity to teach him- 
self. 1 If not, there is. a moral, and sometimes a legal, 
breach of contract. The Improver, or as he will be called 
the Migratory Improver, is simply a wage-earner, paid for 
the value of his work, taking his chance of learning and 
having to acquire the trade for himself as best he can. The 
employers, since they pay the full value of the improver's 

1 Even with Regular Service, however, boys are paid wages which 
approach more and more nearly to their full value as workers, and so 
employers cannot afford to teach them so much as formerly. Still, 
in its first three forms there is some agreement or understanding 
that the boy shall have the opportunity to learn. The whole subject 
will be dealt with more fully in a later chapter. 


work, are under no obligation to teach him and often are 
not in a position to do so, though some of them recognize 
some kind of obligation to " bring him on." " He (i.e. 
the improver)/' I was told, " would simply get a job, and 
he would not be supposed to be learning anything, but he 
would learn just the same." The extent to which this 
method of learning by migration prevails will be considered 
later, but at any rate it is of sufficient importance to 
be contrasted as a method of learning with that of Regular 
Service, and forms the second main division of the subject. 

The sense in which the word Lad or Boy is used is also 
worth considering. As regards age it is perhaps best to 
follow a method similar to that adopted under the Factory 
cts and to class all those of School Age (i.e. under 14 in 
London) as children, and all those between 14 and 18 as 
lads or boys. The term thus corresponds to the " Young 
Persons " of the Factory Acts, and may be regarded as 
referring to all non-adult male labour. 

There is a certain class of boys, however, whose position 
has a close connection with the classification we have been 
considering. In some trades one or two are employed to 
perform certain small offices and make themselves generally 
useful about the shop, and where the department is a 
large one they can if suitable be easily absorbed in the 
business. Thus their position is different from what it is 
where boys are engaged in excessive numbers, and it is 
often through work of the former kind that they get 
that minimum of knowledge which enables them to get 
into a trade either as improvers or by some form of Regular 
Service. Indeed, many firms are now making it their prac- 
tice to start them as errand boys for six months or so, 
with' a view to putting them to the trade as learners and a 
few will take them in no other way. Others again promote 
to the bench any who are sufficiently capable. Instances 
may be quoted of the Glue Boys in Joinery Works, the 
" little boy " in the East London Cabinet shops and the 
Errand Boys in many firms of Silversmiths. 

The position of those boys who work as mates or assis- 


tants to a skilled man or squad of men, now requires con- 
sideration. The term " mate " is sometimes used of two 
skilled men working together, as in the case of two joiners 
at a bench, or formerly of two men working a saw. But, 
more commonly it denotes the less skilled assistant or 
helper who in certain trades serves the mechanic. The 
essence of his position is that he is definitely attached to a 
single man and not like many labourers engaged generally 
about the shop. The plumber or gasfitter forms a pair 
with his mate, so do smith and hammerman ; and the 
bricklayer's labourer is usually attached to a particular 
bricklayer. Similarly in Leather Splitting the skilled man 
at the front of the machine has a boy or youth to help him 
at the back, and on the circular saw, the sawyer has one to 
" pull out " for him. Now in most of these cases a mate's 
work is a recognized avenue into the trade. His position 
enables him to learn all about it and after a time to get hold 
of the tools for himself. The one exception is provided 
by the bricklayer's labourer, 1 and even with him, though 
not officially recognized, the learning is frequently and suc- 
cessfully accomplished. 

So, too, in certain other cases, the boy who works for a 
squad of men can "follow up " a trade. So far as I am aware, 
the term is only used in London in the case of a few pro- 
cesses, the most important being the Rivetting of Boilers : and 
it is in the Ship-yards that the best examples of it are found. 
The men engaged work in squads of five, composed of three 
skilled men two rivetters and one holder-up and two 
boys : and the mode of entry, which will be more fully 
described later, is that the boy enters the trade at fourteen 
as a rivet-heater, and at about sixteen becomes a carrier, 
taking the rivets from the fire to the men. Once he has 
got to this position he has his chance of " following up " 
the trade ; that is to say, by serving the men as carrier, 
he first learns how the work is done and then gets hold of 

1 In a later chapter reasons are given for not classing the brick- 
layer's labourer as a mate of his bricklayer and for not classifying 
the method by which he learns this trade as that of Following Up. 


the tools and learns to do it himself. Only a few are appren- 
ticed in London, the great majority are not, and after so 
many years the boy is given by the Union a further twelve 
months within which he must get his full money. A similar 
method used to prevail in the allied branch of Tank-Making, 
but the development of machinery has largely altered its 
character. A boy employed in a " Chair " of Glass Blowers 
lias a somewhat analogous position. 

The expression Following-up, however, may be aptly 
applied to all those trades where a youth works as helper, 
assistant or mate, either to a man or a squad of men ; more 
particularly as in learning the trade, a similar course is 
followed in each case. The lad gives several years' service 
to begin with, not as a learner, but as assistant to a skilled 
man, and from this proceeds to apply the knowledge he 
has thus gained, to enable him to work his way up. Again, 
all such trades differ from those in which either of the two 
previous methods apply. In them, whether the boy is 
taught, or gets opportunity to learn or merely teaches 
himself as best he can, he always starts, either at once or 
after a few months, to do the actual work which, as a man, 
he will have to perform, whilst, where " folio wing-up " 
obtains, he first spends a long period serving and helping 
the man, but not himself doing the work. rt Following- 
up," therefore, constitutes a third, independent method of 
entering a trade. 

Now these three methods all involve years of training, 
and apply to employments which can all be classed as 
skilled. When, however, we come to those which can with 
more justice be described as semi-skilled, we get a method 
of entry which is best designated by the word " Picking- 
up." This, again, bears more than one meaning. To 
recur to the distinction between " how a boy learns " and 
" how a boy is taught/' the expression is used in reference 
to both, but more frequently to the second. It will be 
said in answer to questions upon the point, that " he just 
picks it up." That is to say, no special arrangements are 
made, but a boy gradually learns from his work first one 


thing and then another. So understood, the term applies 
with particular force to the Migratory Improver or to those 
who are " working and learning," whilst more generally, 
the modern contract to teach often guarantees merely the 
" opportunity to learn," and it depends mainly on the 
" grit " of the boy whether he " makes himself a tradesman." 

But the expression can, I think, be used to describe the 
mode of entry into those occupations which require not 
so much to be taught as simply to be " picked up," that 
is, into what may be described shortly as the semi-skilled 
trades. Thus, where much machinery is used, what was once 
a skilled trade is sometimes split up into a number of separate 
processes. There is comparatively little to learn, and that 
little is not very difficult ; or even if high skill is needed, it is 
only in the performance of some single process or in the 
use of some one machine. A boy goes to a certain process 
and learns it in a few months, and after this has only to 
acquire greater experience and rapidity of execution, which 
sometimes takes longer than the actual learning. In a Boot 
Factory, for instance, a lad keeps his eyes open and gets to 
know how some more difficult j ob is being done and, when 
opportunity offers, contrives to make a start at it at a rate 
of wage lower than that which a man obtains, and quickly 
makes himself efficient. The work, therefore, is not such 
as to require a long period of training ; but it does need a 
certain amount of intelligence and skill and often consider- 
able practice before the power to turn it out rapidly can be 
obtained. Herice, the method appropriate to this can well 
be described as " Picking-up." 

Thus, this new classification is based on a regrouping of 
the older forms. The distinction is made to depend mainly 
on two things, first on the actual permanency or otherwise 
of the industrial engagements under which the boys learn, 
and secondly on the relation of the boy to the man with 
whom he works. Four main groups have emerged. First 
there is that of. Regular Service, which covers all boys who 
are, in fact, permanently engaged in one firm during their 
training ; and, secondly, Migration, where they move about 


from one firm to another. So far, the matter of chief 
importance has been the fact of permanence. With the 
third method, that of Following Up, the cardinal point 
is that, for a long period, the boy is not working at the 
trade, but serving the man who is. He afterwards works 
himself up, and may do this entirely in one firm or in several. 
The fourth method, Picking-Up, applies to the semi-skilled 

The next term to be considered, namely, Boy Labour, 
is one of which the definition is far more difficult than it 
appears to be. Sometimes it is simply used in contrast to 
adult male labour, but as a rule, when it is used, there is 
always some implied contrast between labouring and learn- 
ing. Sometimes it covers only those trades which employ 
more boys in adolescence than they can find room for in 
manhood, and at others includes all boys' jobs in and about 
a factory which may or may not lead to permanent employ- 
ment. Thirdly, it may refer to all those who, for whatever 
reason, fail to acquire a trade or occupation of any kind. 

In considering this question, two important facts emerge 
at once. The first is the antithesis between working for 
wages and learning. Here, Boy Labour is less appropriate 
than either Boy Labourer or Boy Labouring, but the actual 
expression is not important, if we keep clearly before our 
minds the meaning which is given to it* The second 
and more vital fact is the importance to be attached to 
failure to learn, whatever its cause. So understood, the 
Problem of Boy Labour can be stretched to include all 
forms and conditions of employment, to the extent to 
which they fail to provide those engaged in them with a 
permanent livelihood. Thus it covers not only those 
jobs which from their very nature cannot last beyond 
adolescence, but those defects of organization or character 
which in any trade prevent boys learning those things 
which they set out to master. In short, the problem em- 
braces every kind of failure to acquire a definite occupation, 
and is not confined to those employments which fail to 
keep their boys after they reach manhood. 


As thus defined, Boy Labour may be divided into 
three classes. The first of these comprises what are 
known as the Blind Alley Trades which employ large 
numbers from the age of fourteen up to from seven- 
teen to twenty, and are compelled to discharge the great 
majority of them on the threshold of manhood. They 
thus provide few or no openings for them as adults, 
and often get rid of their boys at a time when it is 
difficult for them to learn anything else. A good example 
of this was formerly provided by the conditions of the Boy 
Messengers in the employ of the General Post Office. These, 
however, have since been practically revolutionized, and 
their work is no longer open to this reproach. In short, the 
Blind Alleys are " isolated " boys' jobs, that is to say, 
they have to be performed by boys, they terminate with 
boyhood, and they do not lead directly or indirectly to any 
permanent employment. 

The second class of Boy Labour consists of trades in 
which both boys and men are needed, so that employment in 
them as a boy can, and sometimes does, lead to engagement 
as a man. The proportion between them, however, is such 
that only a fraction of the former can find permanent places 
and the rest have earlier or later to betake themselves else- 
where. Being usually skilled and highly paid, they require 
a long period of training, and those who do enter them are 
well provided for. This applies especially to those trades 
in which the method of Following-Up obtains ; for work 
as an assistant to a man is a recognized avenue into them, 
but where each man has one such assistant, some of them 
have to go sooner or later to other jobs. Probably, 
therefore, the most suitable name for them is that of Partial 
Blind Alley. 

The third class is composed of all boys who attempt to 
enter an occupation, and either fail to do so altogether, 
or do not become fully competent at it. Such failures 
spring from a variety of causes. Thus, more boys have 
to enter a trade than it can find room for, and yet they 
will be no more than enough to provide it with a sufficiency 


of skilled men. Boys drift into it and out again ; they 
start to learn it, but are unable to do so, or they only learn 
a part of it. Hence, many trades require a Reserve of 
Boy Labour. Great friction and waste result, and many 
who enter one or other of them grow up without any definite 
occupation, or at best only reach the casual fringe of one. 
These failures, therefore, form a third type of Boy Labour, 
and may be referred to as the Wasteful Recruiting of the 
Skilled Trades. It is true that similar waste occurs in the 
lower grades of labour, but it is in connexion with the 
higher that it obtains its greatest importance. 

The term Boy Labour, therefore, must be used in two 
senses. Its most natural meaning is to signify either those 
forms of work that employ boys and boys only, or those 
that employ more than they can absorb as men. But in 
any kind of trade or job, boys may reach manhood without 
possessing a definite occupation, 1 for one or other of the 
causes just mentioned. Analysing results, therefore, we 
find that the problem must be extended to cover the failure 
of some boys in all walks of life to fit themselves for the 
future. The boy in the Blind Alley may get successfully 
into some fresh business, and so it does not prove a Blind 
Alley to him, whilst the boy in the skilled trade, by failing 
to learn it, may grow up unfitted for anything at all. Thus, 
the latter may be the greater difficulty, though the former 
runs the greater risk. Hence, whilst in the first place the 
term Boy Labour attaches itself naturally to the Total or 
Partial Blind Alley, the real problem is a wider one. 

Finally, the meaning of the expressions Skilled, Semi- 
Skilled and Unskilled Labour must be considered ; and 
they require to be used with caution. It is contended, 
and rightly, that scarcely any employment is absolutely 
unskilled, and for this reason the term low-skilled is some- 
times preferred. At the same time variations in the amount 
of skill are so great as to justify the ordinary distinction. 

1 The term occupation will be used to cover all forms of labour 
which do give permanent employment throughout life, whatever 
their grade of skill. The word trade, if used without qualification, 
will denote skilled manual employment of a permanent character. 


The dividing line between the three grades is, however, 
far from clear. Sometimes, as in the Building Trades, 
there is a rough division into artisans or tradesmen, and 
labourers. Elsewhere, it may be almost accidental, the 
result of habit, of a rough calculation from wages, or even 
of the particular arrangements of the employers. Such 
a practice, however, may result in workmen engaged upon 
an identical operation being classed in different grades. 
Hence, 'the distinction between them should be based, as 
far as possible, on some definite principle, difficult though 
this may often prove, and thus a few clear divisions can be 
substituted for numerous and minute shades of difference. 

One possible course is to rely upon the rates of wages 
paid for different kinds of work, but on examination this 
proves to be little more than a useful check on other methods. 
There do not exist any statistics of wages that are adequate 
for the purpose, and a further objection to their use is 
found in the many elements, besides the skill involved, which 
help to determine them. Thus, great physical strength or 
great irregularity of employment will help to raise them, 
and low wages may be due to a variety of causes such as 
payment in kind, competition of female or child labour, and 
above all security of tenure, whilst, lastly, inequality be- 
tween trades may merely reflect differences of organization. 

On the other hand, measurement by the amount and 
length of training is easier and more satisfactory. Varia- 
tions in skill within a trade which are brought about by 
the use of machinery, by specialization or by other reasons, 
can thus be far more adequately classified. The time taken 
to learn is likely to be pretty constant between one place 
and another, whilst rates of wages vary. The distinction 
between skilled and other grades of labour, therefore, will 
follow closely the divisions already outlined between the 
different forms of training. Thus, Skilled Labour may be 
defined as all such as requires a long period of service, 
whether under a definite contract or agreement and in a 
single firm, or with no such agreement, the learner 
moving about from firm to firm. This class, there- 


fore, will include all who are learning by the first three 
methods of Regular Service, Migration and Following- 
Up. Secondly, Semi-Skilled Labour includes those trades 
or processes which can be acquired in a comparatively 
short time. Nevertheless, it is distinguished from the third 
or unskilled class by the modicum of knowledge, skill 
and rapidity of execution which it requires. It is, in 
short, the grade whose training is covered by the fourth 
method of Picking-Up. Lastly, Unskilled Labour is 
such as possesses the minimum of skill and knowledge, 
since no labour is absolutely unskilled, and therefore does 
not require nor receive any definite period of training. Such 
knack as distinguishes a good from an inefficient unskilled 
labourer comes by practice, except so far as it depends on 
discipline and ordinary common sense. This, at any rate, 
seems to be the best way of differentiating these grades, 
though it must never be forgotten that no absolutely hard 
and fast lines can be drawn between them. 

Finally, there are two other ways in which it might be 
possible to distinguish them. The semi-skilled class is 
largely made up of men who are working and minding 
machines. Hence, they might be divided into Artisan 
or Mechanic, Machine-Minder and Labourer, but there is 
a fatal objection to this, in that some important classes of 
workers, such as carmen, are something more than labourers, 
are not to be classed as artisans, and yet do not work upon 
machines. They are, in fact, of the same grade as the 
machine minder, but they are not machine-minders. For 
this reason, therefore, the general term semi-skilled is far 
more adequate. Another classification, which avoids the 
use of the term unskilled, is into Artisans, Skilled Labourers 
and Labourers. But though it has this one advantage, it 
is clumsy, and to the ordinary man, far from clear. And, 
above all other possible classifications the division into 
skilled, semi-skilled and unskilled 1 has the merit of being 
generally accepted and well understood, and for that reason 
can best be retained. 

1 The term low-skilled will be used in a general sense to cover 
bqth semi-skilled and unskilled labour in contrast with skilled. 



Industrial Peculiarities of London shared to a lesser degree by other 
big towns London a commercial centre and the seat of govern- 
ment Comparatively small proportion of skilled manual 
labour Other peculiarities intensified by its size. 

ist Peculiarity : Absence of Localized Industries Advan- 
tage of them when large Their disadvantages Those that 
exist in London only partially localised (Ship Repairing) or 
small (Art Metal, Scientific Instruments, Pianofortes, Leather) 
Exceptions : Tailoring, Boot-making, Cabinet Making 
Special Defects of Existing Localized Industries. 

2nd Peculiarity : London a centre of Repair and Retail work 
Forms and character of such work -Typical Instances Its 
Disadvantages and Advantages Growth of Specialization 
Its Two Forms Specialization of Processes Its Effect on the 
Workman Tendency to create new forms of Boy Labour Its 
Partial Development in London Specialization of Product or 
Output A Marked Feature of London in Cabinet Making and 
Silversmithing Increased Difficulty of Learning Two Parti- 
cular Cases of Specialization Improvers' Work Specialization 
between different localities Cabinet Making and Furniture. 

3rd Peculiarity : Influx of Workmen and Efflux of Work 
Summary of Previous Treatment. 

Results of these Peculiarities Irregularity of Teaching and 
Learning Excessive Supply of Labour Features of London 
Training Absence of System and Mixture of Methods 
Resulting Evils Difficulty of Finding Openings Subordination 
of Learning to Earning Resulting Influence on London 

IN its relation to the methods of Industrial Training that 
are in vogue there, London has characteristics that are either 
peculiar to it or else are found in it to a more marked degree 
than in other places. A recent investigation drew a dis- 
tinction between different towns mainly in reference to 
casual labour. First of all came London, where it was 
shown to be exceptionally prevalent ; then the other 
capitals, as they were called Manchester, Liverpool, New- 

33 D 


castle and so on which are rather commercial and distri- 
butive than manufacturing centres, though with them this 
feature is not so marked as in London. Still in them casual 
labour is very common. Thirdly, there are the manufactur- 
ing towns proper, where it exists, but in more manageable 
proportions ; and fourthly, the country towns where it tends 
to disappear. 1 Now in many other respects the distinction 
between London and other big cities is one of degree rather 
than of kind ; and many of its special difficulties are not so 
much peculiar to it, as rendered unusually great, because of 
its exceptional size. The resulting problems, therefore, 
fall into two classes, first those of a general character 
which arise out of its industrial conditions, and secondly 
those tendencies of modern industry which specially affect 
its methods of industrial training. 

First of all London is less of a manufacturing than of a 
commercial city, whilst as the seat of government it is a 
great centre of social life. It is likewise the headquarters 
of much charitable, religious and philanthropic work. Its 
industries therefore are affected by these requirements. 
This is one reason why the transport trades are so prominent 
and why, except in the case of Railway Service, the numbers 
employed in them are far greater relatively to the population 
than in other places. Similarly, the proportion of dealers, 
as shown by the Census Returns, which covers those engaged 
in shops and retail operations generally, is with one or two 
exceptions unusually large, as to an even greater extent is 
that of clerical labour. The influence of the seat of 
government, society and philanthropy is further seen in 
the magnitude of three other groups, Building, Wood- 
working and Clothing, whilst all these characteristics 
combine to give it a very large proportion of the men 
engaged in the Printing Trades. 

The effect of this distribution is to demand a proportion 

1 Report to the Poor Law Commission by Mr. A. D. Steel- 
Maitland, M.P., and Miss Rose E. Squire, H. M. Inspector of 
Factories, on the Relation of Industrial and Sanitary Conditions to 
Pauperism (Appendix XVI., Col. 46535, 1909). 


of low-skilled labour on the one hand, and of clerical 
workers on the other that is greater than in the 
country as a whole, whilst that of men engaged in skilled 
employment is comparatively small. This tendency must 
not, however, be exaggerated. The Printing Trades in 
London are exceptionally large, and in few industries 
is the general level of skill so high. The same is true of the 
Precious Metal and Instrument Group, though some of 
these latter have a growing element of juvenile, and un- 
skilled adult, labour, resulting from subdivision and the 
increased use N of machinery. Again, for reasons that will 
be dealt with later, the large number of high-class retail 
orders that are found in the Furnishing Industry creates 
a demand for a very high level of capacity. Still, after 
making all allowances, the proportion of low-skilled work- 
men is large ; and casual and irregular employment are 
very prevalent among all grades of labour. This indeed is 
a phenomenon that appears to be inseparable from the 
trade of a port and from many kinds of distributive work. 
For a similar reason juvenile Blind Alleys are unusually 
common since they require more of it than do the bulk of 
the manufacturing industries. Hence the problem of 
London is complicated and made more difficult from the 
very first by the nature of its demand for labour. 

Moreover the special characteristics that result from this 
industrial character are rendered less capable of treatment 
by a matter in which no other city can bear comparison 
with it, and that is its immense size. This accentuates and 
intensifies every difficulty. Here indeed it differs widely 
from other capital cities in that their area is more manage- 
able and the distribution of their trades more obvious to 
their citizens. This fact, therefore, has always to be borne 
in mind in considering its peculiarities. 

The first of these is the comparative rarity of large local- 

.ized industries. Its trades are extremely varied, in spite 

of the almost complete absence of several important ones, 

such as the textiles, and perhaps this is the reason why 

each of them is usually spread over a wide area. There are 


large industries but, with one or two exceptions, they are 
scattered ; and localized industries but they are mostly 
small. Further the worker's place of business and his home 
are often afar apart, so that even where the factories and 
offices are close together, the homes of those who work in 
them are not. 

Large localized industries have considerable advantages, 
especially where, as in manufacturing towns of moderate 
size, they provide employment for a considerable part of the 
population. They give a natural outlet for the labour of 
the rising generation, which in the Potteries betakes itself 
to the furnaces, in the Boot Towns to the boot trade and 
so on. Some go as apprentices and learners to acquire 
the most skilled operations, others take up boys' work and 
rise by a sort of natural progression to do more difficult 
processes later on, and yet others come in time to do as 
men the unskilled jobs. But in each case the provision 
of a definite opening is of immense value, even where the 
future only promises a position of the latter kind. For 
those who can look for nothing better as under our present 
industrial organization is the lot of many a definite posi- 
tion in life counts for much. With all forms of labour the 
greatest danger is that of drifting from one thing to another 
without mastering any, and this a localized industry helps 
to avert. 

Sometimes, indeed, localization may, from its very con- 
centration, increase certain evils, as when the trade employs 
an excessive amount of boy labour. Within it, again, the 
organization may be bad, or there may be much casual 
employment, but all the same openings or at least places 
do naturally present themselves for far more persons than 
when it is scattered, and in any case the position of those 
who enter it is preferable to the endless drifting from job 
to job that is so common in London. 

Generally, therefore, those districts, which possess one 
or more of such industries, have at least the advantage of 
providing natural outlets for their young workers. It is 
very different in London. For such openings are seldom 


available in large numbers except in the case of low-skilled 
labour ; and some of its largest localized trades are those 
which give little opportunity of employment, or at least 
of well-paid employment, after adolescence. The great 
difficulty, however, arises out of the scattered character of 
those which do give real prospects. I n many other towns good 
openings present themselves ; here in London it is necessary 
to go out and find them, and they are difficult to find, so that 
the boy and his parents never really know what is available. 
Thus, besides the danger of failing to find anything, they 
are often compelled to accept the first place that offers 
whether it is suitable or not. 

Moreover this difficulty of finding a single thing of a 
desirable type is accompanied by the presence of too large a 
number of jobs that are better avoided. There are always 
plenty of the latter going, and so the tendency for boys to 
drift, instead of sticking steadily to their posts, is multiplied. 
The suitable ones are scattered among others that are not, 
and in the attempt to find the former they either drift into 
the latter, or, overwhelmed by the difficulty of their task and 
fearful of missing any chance, snatch at whatever turns up 
first. Thus the danger that learning will be subordinated to 
wage-earning, already present in any case, is considerably 
extended by these causes. Finally, even when a good opening 
is obtained, prevailing conditions combine with the frequent 
absence of a formal contract to render it equally easy to 
leave and offer all sorts of temptations to do so to boys 
of unsettled disposition. 

Moreover even London's few localized industries are 
hardly fitted to play the same part as those of other towns : 
but their rarity must not be exaggerated. Sometimes the 
localization is only partial, as in the case of Engineering 
along the south bank of the river, or of Ship-repairing in 
Poplar. The latter contains more than one-third of all 
male workers in the London Ship-building Trade, and seven 
riverside boroughs 1 on the south of the Thames employ over 

1 These boroughs are Woolwich, Greenwich, Deptford, Bermond- 
sey, Southwark, Lambeth, Battersea. The Arsenal accounts for a 
considerable proportion of these in the case of Woolwich. 


19,000 men and boys in General Engineering and Machine. 
Making, or nearly half of those returned for the whole of the 
County of London. Similarly a very large proportion of 
those in the Printing Trade are found in six boroughs 
which are more or less grouped about its chief centre in the 
immediate neighbourhood of Fleet Street, three of them being 
on the North, and three on the South, side of the river. 1 

Nevertheless the areas over which these men are spread 
is too wide to allow of any real local concentration, except 
perhaps round the Arsenal at Woolwich. Such, however, 
is found, especially if we take into account the size of the 
trades concerned, in that group of industries which is com- 
bined in the Census under the heading of Precious Metals, 
Jewels, Watches, Instruments and Games. They may be 
referred to shortly as the Precious Metal and Instrument 
Trades. Their chief home is in the central and north-central 
districts of the County of London, and, as sometimes 
happens, the factories are even more localized than the 
homes of the men. The whole group was returned at the 
recent Census as employing just over 23,000 workers 2 in the 
County of London, and of these not very far short of one- 
half (about 10,600) came from four boroughs Finsbury, 
Islington, Hackney and St. Pancras. Moreover, this localiza- 
tion of the actual manufacturing business is more marked 
than it appears on paper since in some of these trades a 
good many men are employed by retail shops and dealers 
all over London to carry out small orders and repairs. This 
is particularly true of the clock and watchmakers who are 
comparatively scattered. 

In Silversmithing the four boroughs just mentioned con- 
tained almost exactly half of the workers employed in the 
County area. The largest numbers are found in Islington, 
though factories and workshops are probably more numer- 
ous in Finsbury. There is in the same district a further 
concentration of art metal workers, who are manipulating 
the base metals, of whom there is no separate return, 

1 Finsbury, Hackney, Islington, Camberwell, Lambeth, Southwark. 
- Workers 23,067 : Dealers 4,138. 


and it contains between one-half and two-fifths of the men 
in the Scientific Instrument Trades. Finally the Pianoforte 
Trade is even more narrowly centralized, more than 
half of those engaged in it being found in Islington and 
St. Pancras, with a smaller aggregation in Hackney. In 
some of its branches there appears to be an excess of boy 

The Manufacture of Leather, however, has the reputation 
of being the most concentrated in London. So far as the 
factories are concerned, the actual making of the leather 
is very narrowly localized in Bermondsey and those parts 
of Southwark and Camberwell which are contiguous to it. 
The trade in this district employs a much larger proportion 
of the workers than the Census would lead one to suppose, 
since many of the men, and particularly of the more skilled 
and better paid, live in other boroughs. Makers of leather 
goods are less concentrated, but the trade appears to have 
two chief centres, one to the North of the river in Hackney 
and Islington, and the other to the South in Southwark and 
Camberwell. In neither case, however, is the localization 
at all marked. Saddlers and harness makers are spread 
fairly evenly over London. 

All these trades are comparatively small, but localization 
is also found in some of the larger industries, notably in 
Tailoring, Bootmaking and the Furniture Trades. In the 
two former there is considerable subdivision of labour, and 
in certain districts Tailoring is associated with the Sweating 
System. At the recent Census Tailoring employed about 
33,000 men and boys in Greater London and Boot- 
making about 24,000, and both showed great concen- 
tration in certain districts, at least so far as the 
wholesale trade is concerned. Moreover in them and in 
the Furniture Trades the homes of the workers are 
situated to a great extent in the same neighbourhood as 
their work places. In the Borough of Stepney the number 
of male persons engaged in Tailoring was over 14,000, and 
in Central London there was also a smaller but still appreci- 
able concentration. In Bootmaking, there were over 8,000 


in four of the East London Boroughs Stepney, Shoreditch, 
Bethnal Green and Hackney. 

But in some ways the Furniture Trades of East London 
are the most important of all, more particularly in the same 
four boroughs which in 1911 contained more than two- 
fifths of all their members. Taking individual branches, 
they domiciled something like five-eighths of the cabinet 
makers (of whom there were 3,752 in Bethnal Green and 
2,123 in Shoreditch), nearly one-half of the french polishers 
and about three-tenths of the upholsterers. The Wood- 
working Trades as a whole are not a homogeneous group, 
but these three branches of it do form such a one in East 
London. 1 

But if so far they are localized, the trades we have been 
considering have characteristics which prevent or hinder 
them from performing the services provided by the localized 
industries of provincial towns. Many of them are small, 
employing in all only a few thousand workers, and however 
considerable is the proportion of them working or residing 
in one district, it is a very small part of the total population. 
Thus the 2,856 men and boys engaged in the Pianoforte 
Trade in Islington and St. Pancras are only a drop in the 
ocean among the 179,000 male workers in these boroughs, 
especially if we compare them with the 15,715 in the Boot 
and Shoe Trade at Leicester out of a total of only 71,000. 
Indeed two or more of our localized industries sometimes 
exist side by side in the same district. They cannot, there- 
fore, play the same part that those of other towns do in focus- 
sing the demand for juvenile labour. Even in the Furniture 
Trades the same thing holds good to a lesser extent, except 
perhaps in one or two boroughs. 

But further several of these industries suffer from dis- 
advantages which render their influence harmful rather 

1 Taking these boroughs as a whole the Woodworking Trades 
contain between 9 and 10 per cent, of their occupied male population, 
but in Bethnal Green and Shoreditch the proportions amount to 
19-9 and 16-3 per cent, respectively compared with 22'i per cent, 
in the Boot Trade at Leicester. 


than beneficial. One or two of them are decaying and thus 
ceasing to provide as many openings as formerly or even full 
employment to those who do enter them. The organiza- 
tion of others is often loose, especially in the Furniture and 
Pianoforte Trades. Sometimes, again, the work is sub- 
divided, more or less minutely, between different firms, 
and this is also true of parts of the Art Metal Trades. When, 
therefore, boys enter such firms, they can at most only learn 
a part of the trade. This may indeed form a stepping- 
stone to something better, but on the other hand it may give 
little of permanent value. 

Thirdly, and perhaps of more importance, is the fact that 
the Furniture and Pianoforte Industries are honeycombed 
with casual labour and have marked seasonal fluctuations. 
The latter are increasing in intensity in Art Metal work also. 
This casualization, moreover, extends to the juvenile workers 
and compels them to drift about from firm to firm, whilst 
the recurring periods of unemployment are particularly 
baneful to them. Such movement is also becoming neces- 
sary, though not as yet to anything like the same extent, 
in the Precious Metal and Instrument Group. Finally many 
of these trades, partly because of their method of production, 
partly from the instability of their labour supply, have to 
employ an undue proportion of boy labour : and whilst 
in some districts or in some firms there is a deficiency of young 
workers, in those boroughs where they are most localized 
the excess is often considerable. 

The second peculiarity of London springs from the fact 
that it is to a great and growing extent a centre of repair 
and retail work rather than of new construction. Where 
this is so, it possesses an unusually large proportion of firms 
of small or moderate size, and even when they are large, the 
business varies greatly in character from job to job, and 
even on the same job. Thus the huge establishments of 
other towns are comparatively rare, and instead of the 
specialization of work that is their characteristic, the demand 
is mainly, though not entirely, for all-round men. This does 
not apply to all trades, and House Building is a notable 


exception. Where it does, however, a further distinction 
must be made between repairs and odd jobs generally and 
new work done in execution of the retail orders of private 

The former take several forms. First there is repair 
work pure and simple, which ranges from very large con- 
tracts of Ship-Repairing to a great variety of odd jobs. 
Secondly there is a class of work which, though nominally 
new construction, is really of the same character. It con- 
sists mostly of small orders for purposes such as replacing 
breakdowns of machinery and tools, supplying parts and 
accessories, making slight additions to plant, and so on. 
Thus big contracts are often carried out elsewhere, but these 
smaller ones it is often not worth while to send to a distance, 
especially if they require to be executed quickly. The 
Printing Trade in Central London, for instance, is served 
in. this way by a certain number of Printers' Engineers. 
Thirdly many large firms have small shops attached to them 
with sufficient men to keep their buildings or machinery 
in good condition, and in the total these also account for a 
considerable number. 

The industries in which these circumstances are most 
marked are those of Shipbuilding and Engineering. In the 
former practically no new construction takes place in Lon- 
don, and the men in it and in those branches of engineer- 
ing that are dependent upon it are almost entirely engaged 
on repair work. In the other sections of the Engineering 
Trades the same thing holds good with certain reservations 
and the men are mainly employed on these kinds of orders. 
Comparatively little new manufacturing on a large scale 
is done. With one or two exceptions, the Railway Com- 
panies have moved their works away, and other large fac- 
tories, if found at all, are situated mostly in suburban dis- 
tricts such as Willesden. In South London, however, there 
is still some large scale production, but even there the general 
statement as to the character of the industry holds good. 

These, however, if the most important, are not the only 
cases in which such conditions prevail. As already stated, 


Clock and Watch Makers are mostly occupied in this way, 
as are many of the mechanics employed in the Cycle and 
Motor Trades, and repair work also provides for consider- 
able numbers in the making of clothing and boots and in 
House Building. 

Moreover in London a great deal of new work is carried 
out retail, especially in those trades that serve the wealthier 
districts. Of this the best example is found in the Furnish- 
ing Industry of the West and North- West. Much of its 
business is done not for the wholesale market but to the orders 
of private individuals. Many such are specially designed 
and executed according to the taste of the purchaser. The 
work, too, is not only of very high quality, but very varied in 
character. Even in a large order, therefore, a very extensive 
use of machinery or of machined parts is not profitable, and 
the proportion of work that has to be carried out by hand is 
unusually large. Thus the men employed are highly skilled 
and highly paid and the boys who are taken on get a thor- 
ough training. There is and can be little subdivision of 
labour, since each contract differs from the previous one 
and sometimes almost every piece of furniture does so: 
Other instances of such retail work are found in the higher 
class of Bespoke Tailoring and Bootmaking. One might 
also add that even in production for the wholesale market, 
notably in the Furniture Trade of East London and in the 
Art Metal group, the number of small firms is very great, 
but in them the methods of working are different. 

Now with regard to Industrial Training these classes 
of work have many peculiarities. The result is on the whole 
favourable as regards the actual teaching, but the general 
conditions of employment are often far from good. Repairs 
and, to a lesser degree, Retail Orders are apt to come in 
rushes and at irregular intervals, 'and in woodwork the latter 
are frequently seasonal in character. Thus there is irregular 
and casual employment of boys as well as of men. For this 
reason they are often compelled to move from firm to firm, 
and are therefore rendered liable to long spells of unemploy- 
ment ; and this is a far greater evil in their case than in 


that of adults. Moreover, small shops sometimes mean 
small and inferior work, consisting largely of odd jobs, whilst 
some of the smaller masters are not capable of teaching and, 
unlike bigger firms, have not in their employ others who are. 
This, however, only applies to some, and not to all of the 
shops doing repair and retail business, and irregularity of 
employment is not nearly so common in the case of those 
engaged upon high-class retail orders. 

On the other hand, the work, especially in shops above a 
certain size, is necessarily varied, and renders minute sub- 
division impossible. Where the quality is good, therefore, 
no better training can be asked for, since the boy must sooner 
or later be put through the whole business. Moreover he 
comes into closer and more intimate contact with his em- 
ployer than he can do in a very big business. The direct 
personal tie is of great value, and small employers of this 
type have a special interest in bringing their boys on as 
rapidly .as possible. They, therefore, get at least a very 
thorough grounding in the elements of their trade. 

A third question that is closely allied to that which has 
just been considered is the opposite tendency to the growth 
of specialization, which is common to the country as a whole 
and not peculiar to London. Sometimes it has been carried 
as far or even further there than elsewhere, at others not 
nearly so far, whilst in certain cases the very incompleteness 
of its development has given rise to a special problem. The 
tendency operates mainly in two directions. It may consist, 
first, of the subdivision among a number of men in the same 
firm of processes formerly performed by a single man ; and, 
secondly, it may arise because individual firms have a limited 
range of output. In other words, the result may be effected 
by operating either on the process or on the product. 

When the term specialization is used without qualifica- 
tion, the first of these alternatives is referred to. The 
separation of processes, indeed, was coeval with the birth 
of manufacturing industry, and thus the term really implies 
the fresh creation of new processes out of the old ones, 
carried sufficiently far to effect a definite change in the skill 


or status of the workman. The doing of a little exception- 
ally well replaces the doing of a greater amount less per- 
fectly, sometimes with a loss on balance. In the Building 
Trades, for instance, a man used to be a carpenter and joiner, 
as in a small shop he still is ; but now, in a large firm, he is 
either one or the other. So too in big engineering works 
fitters and turners are two separate classes, and sometimes 
a third is added namely, that of erectors. Here, however, 
and to a lesser extent among wood-working machinists, 
there is a further specialization of men on to particular 
machines, eachfnan working one and one only ; and thus a 
class of machine-minders either replaces or supplements the 
mechanics. This subdivision, indeed, has been carried so far 
in the provincial Boot Trade, that many operatives preform 
only a single small process. Speaking generally, however, 
the present generation is said to have seen a great growth 
in this direction, but more probably causes that have been 
in operation for some years past are now for the first time 
beginning to have their full effect. Taken as a whole, how- 
ever, such specialization has neither been carried so far 
nor adopted so frequently in London as it has in other 
manufacturing towns. 

The effect upon the position of the artisan has varied. 
Sometimes it has reduced the numbers required, but only 
to a small extent the skill needed by those who are left. 
Sometimes, again, it has decreased this or altered its char- 
acter. Some of the finest machinery used in Engineering, 
for instance, requires a large number of men whose skill 
is far less, and a small number to "set up " the machines, 
whose skill is greater, than that of the older type of mechanic. 
Or, again, it is common for general intelligence to be developed 
at the expense of manual dexterity. Thirdly, a fresh class 
of labour may be introduced to do the work. Women, 
for instance, have replaced men in parts of the textile 
trades, and boys, or even girls, work the semi-automatic 
and other simple machines that are becoming so com- 
mon, especially in metal work. Here, therefore, new Blind- 
Alley Employments are created : and what formerly 


lasted a lifetime now ceases on the threshold of manhood. 
Specialization, therefore, has three possible results, de- 
creased demand, employment of a lower grade of adult men, 
and the substitution of female or juvenile workers. Often, 
however, the displacement of one class of labour is partly 
offset elsewhere. The " stamping-out " of articles of silver- 
ware by boys has limited the demand for silversmiths ; but 
by cheapening the product, it has provided increased employ- 
ment for those engaged in soldering together the stamped- 
out parts. Where, moreover, the change is uniform through- 
out a trade, the resulting displacement, gr%at though it is, 
is, after all, temporary, except so far as fresh juvenile employ- 
ments are created ; and the matter adjusts itself sooner or 
later. Fresh workers cease to enter the branch affected, 
and existing ones get absorbed elsewhere or gradually die 
out. Our present industrial organization does, indeed, 
involve much temporary hardship, and many skilled workers 
have no resource left except low-skilled and often casual 
labour ; but even so the effects of the change, if it is complete, 
are limited to one generation. 

Different conditions prevail where the change is only 
partial, as is frequently the case in London. There are 
then two competing forms of production in the same in- 
dustry, the specialized and the non-specialized, and each 
of these requires its own labour supply. This in some 
respects intensifies the evil and renders it more permanent, 
especially if the number of specializing firms is small, as 
in London it often is. A man employed in one of them has 
been taught to do only his particular branch of the trade. 1 
Now where specialized production is normal his skill is in 
general demand, since he can perform a service that every 
one requires. He is still liable to be thrown out by general 
trade depression, but not by slackness in a single workshop. 
When, however, only a few firms require his particular 
aptitude, there is great danger that he will frequently lose 

1 In the case considered the man in question remains a skilled 
man with a high level of skill over a narrow range, whilst the bulk 
of the firms require all-round workmen with a lower level of skill. 


his employment through slackness in one or two of them, 
or even permanently through their failure. He suffers 
from the very limited market for his skill, and if, as sometimes 
happens, the trade is one in which the business of individual 
undertakings continually fluctuates, frequent spells of 
unemployment are inevitable. Similarly all-round workers 
have been known to fail to keep employment in certain 
cases through failure to reach the standard of speed or skill 
required in a single branch. In London, therefore, the 
difficulties caused by specialization of processes are largely 
the result of its incomplete adoption. 

The second type of specialization takes the form of sub- 
division of output or the limitation of the work of a firm 
to certain articles. It is very common in London. In 
House Building an increasing number of businesses 
confine themselves to certain branches ; but this is 
merely the separation of the management of distinct 
trades that were formerly controlled by a single head, 
and the worker has still to learn as before the whole of 
his particular craft. What we are really concerned 
with is the case of a trade producing a great variety of 
types and patterns of its product, in which firms 
specialize on a few of them or even on a single one. 
In hardware only a certain article will be produced, and in 
joinery only doors or window-frames, and so on. It is in 
Cabinet Making, however, that this is most common, espe- 
cially among the numerous firms of small and moderate size. 
A master confines himself to cabinets or bedroom suites 
or cupboards, or even to one or two patterns of them. Thus 
he is only in the position to teach, and a boy to learn, a part 
of the business, and how much this will be varies with the 
character of the article produced. On one he will acquire 
considerable knowledge of the tools and processes, on 
another the merest smattering ; but in either case his know- 
ledge will be incomplete, and he will have to move to other 
firms to complete it. A similar subdivision is also common 
in Silversmithing, the most frequent distinction being be- 
tween large and small work. Few trades, however, escape 


it entirely, and it is far more developed in London than is 
specialization of processes. Its influence on Industrial 
Training is often enormous. 

The result is an increasing difficulty of learning the whole 
of a trade in one shop, and the statement that this is impos- 
sible is in some cases not far from the truth. Hence migra- 
tion from firm to firm is often essential, and the same dangers 
are found as appear in connexion with repair work. The 
chances of friction and wastage are greatly increased, and 
many boys, as a result, grow up half-taught, and others 
suffer far too much from spells of unemployment. These 
difficulties, indeed, are not insuperable, and could be over- 
come by suitable organization, but as yet this does not exist. 
They are, moreover, far more serious in London than they 
are elsewhere, and the means for overcoming them are still 
in, their infancy. 

Together these two forms of specialization have created 
various dangerous or undesirable forms of Boy Labour. 
The growth of Blind Alleys, which are simply labouring 
work, has attracted the most attention. The skill required 
is that of a labourer, the strength and stamina those of 
a boy. His commercial value, therefore, is measured by 
the high boy's wage that is paid for the time being. Less 
obtrusive, but equally insidious and little less dangerous, 
are those forms of juvenile employment that I have just 
been considering. Here parts of the work of a trade are 
given to boys and young men in every stage of development. 
Apart from purely unskilled jobs, there are others that 
require young workers, partially taught and of varying 
degrees of capacity, for which, in fact, " an improver will 
do." In short, " boy labour " is supplemented by " im- 
prover labour/' and this has led instinctively to the grading 
of work and wages. Each piece of work requires a certain 
amount of skill and gives knowledge in proportion. So far 
it is educative. The boy or youth after doing it is one step, 
but only one step, further on the road towards his goal. 
Some, therefore, work their way up from job to job, but 
others do not ; and thus many never fully master a trade 
who yet learn a good deal about it. 


Finally, before leaving this subject, two peculiar cases 
have to be considered. For various reasons the use of im- 
proved machinery, and the resulting subdivision of processes, 
is carried further in House Building than in other London 
trades. The consequent decrease in the range of skill has, 
as, for instance, in the case of joiners, been counter-balanced 
partly by the higher level now required in the performance 
of the work that is left and partly by the increased difficulty 
of learning what has still to be learnt. The trade remains 
highly skilled. The rougher parts of it are now done in the 
machine shop, and this has caused a demand for finer finish 
by the joiner. Moreover, what is now done in the machine 
room comprises just those easier and simpler processes 
that are most suitable for the younger boys to make a start 
on. To learn these helps them to master their business 
thoroughly, and to get a complete knowledge of it the lad 
should work through it from the beginning. By so doing 
he obtains a better grasp of its principles. Otherwise 
he is apt to be at a disadvantage compared with a boy 
taught in a provincial town or in a smaller shop, where 
much more has to be done by hand. This difficulty is 
experienced more or less acutely by all large cities, and 
partly accounts for the preference shown by contractors 
for country-trained workpeople. 

Secondly, the huge size of London is, among other things, 
largely responsible for the concentration of different grades 
and forms of work in different localities. An instance has al- 
ready been mentioned in the case of Cabinet Making. Here 
the wholesale trade in East London is much subdivided, 
and employs much casual labour and an excess of juvenile 
workers. The smaller industry of West London is mainly 
retail, needs highly skilled workmen, takes few boys, and, 
except for somewhat marked seasonal variations, enjoys 
admirable conditions. Now in their different districts, these 
two sections are almost two distinct trades, and there is little 
interchange of labour between them. Hence, owing to their 
unsuitable training, the surplus boys of the East seldom, if 
ever, find employment as men in the shops of the West. 


In other trades also there is a similar division. Sometimes 
it consists entirely of a difference in quality, without the dif- 
ferent qualities being located in separate areas ; and here too 
there is often the same absence of mobility. Thus in 
Tailoring and Boot-making, most of the higher-grade 
work is found in West London, but in Art Metal Work 
all classes of shops are concentrated in the same boroughs. 
In any case, however, the feature to be noted is that a 
deficient number of young workers in the better class shops 
is as a rule filled up, not from other branches of the trade, 
but by workers trained outside London. 

This fact, therefore, forms the last of those peculiarities of 
London industry that specially affect Industrial Training. 
It extends far beyond cases of this kind, and it has become a 
truism to say that London Trades are largely recruited by 
provincial workmen. This feature again London shares with 
other large cities, but at the same time it probably draws 
more of its labour from elsewhere than they do, and draws 
it from a wider area. This influence will receive separate 
and fuller treatment later. 

Further there is not only an influx but an efflux as well. 
The influx of labour is supplemented by an efflux of pro- 
duction. Industry, especially manufacturing industry, is 
tending to leave London, and more particularly its central 
area. Sometimes a trade, or a part of it, merely moves to the 
outskirts for the sake of lower rents and rates, sometimes 
much further afield. Thus Shipbuilding, as opposed to 
Ship-repairing, has been transferred to the North-East 
Coast and to the Clyde. In the manufacture of leather, Leeds 
is growing, on the whole, more rapidly than Bermondsey. 
Closer home, printing and bookbinding works have been 
transferred to places like Letchworth, and in districts like 
Willesden factories of various kinds are being built to 
replace those that are closed down in the more central areas. 

The trouble is accentuated by the fact that when the 
works are moved, some at least of the workmen whom they 
employ are left behind, and the loss to Londoners is even 
more considerable when they are gradually displaced by 


provincial competition. Where there is a definite removal, 
the more energetic and enterprising follow the trade : but 
in the latter case there is for long no palpable sign of the 
change. Only the demand for labour grows gradually 
less and its employment more casual. 

Together therefore the influx and the efflux diminish 
the amount of skilled employment available. The demand 
for clerical workers and in the transport trades has 
increased, but it is doubtful if this increase is sufficient 
compensation ; and there are signs that in London there 
is some permanent excess of labour. 

Such, therefore, are the general industrial peculiarities 
of London. First, there is little local concentration. Trades, 
as a rule, are scattered all over it and, even when they are 
not, are, with one or two exceptions, too small to bear any 
marked proportion to the total population of an area. 
Secondly, the amount of repair and retail work is very large, 
as is the proportion of firms of small or moderate size. The 
former often combine the dangers of casual employment 
with unusually good opportunities for learning ; the latter 
give a good groundwork in the trade, but are frequently 
limited in the amount and quality of their business. Thirdly, 
specialization has taken forms that are to some extent 
peculiar to London. Separation of processes has been 
only partial and of such a character as to limit certain 
workers to a very few firms. Subdivision of product or 
output among different employers has been more common, 
rendering necessary continual movement from one shop 
to another if the training is to be adequate. Finally, 
London employers get a very considerable proportion of 
their trained labour from elsewhere. 

Together these characteristics have had some important 
effects. The first consists of the irregularity of the con- 
ditions under which a trade is learnt. These have already 
been described, together with the difficulty of finding an 
opening, and the necessity, in many cases, of frequent change 
of shop. Further, they have led to a variety of methods 
of teaching, and at the same time require a peculiarly careful 


control of the individual boy and a very strict and well- 
regulated organization of the labour market. Secondly, 
there is a deficiency of openings, at any rate for skilled 
labour. Indeed, the demand for learners not seldom falls 
far short of the supply. The statement was frequently made 
to me that " We do not want boys, we want men," and in 
most cases at least sufficient numbers of the latter were 
available. Often, too, such demand for boys as exists is 
for them to do such jobs as will not give them any training 
for their work as men. Only in the rarest cases is difficulty 
experienced in securing not merely sufficient learners but 
as many as are required several times over. Taking all 
forms of employment together, indeed, opinions vary as to 
whether in fact there is or is not an excess of juvenile labour ; 
/ but so far as there is a deficiency, it is confined to unskilled 
and uneducative occupations. 

At this point a short treatment will suffice for the other 
peculiarities mentioned at the beginning of this chapter- 
namely, those arising out of the existing methods of training. 
These have an important mutual influence upon the con- 
ditions already considered. Now, stated baldly, the out- 
standing feature is absence of system. It is not a matter 
of a good system or a bad one, but in the majority of trades 
there is a variety of methods, but nothing that can be called 
a system at all. Each firm, each parent, each boy does 
what he thinks best, and often does it very well, but not in 
co-operation with others. The result once more is that the 
chances of friction and of abuse are enormously magnified, 
and the evil tendencies of industrial conditions are corre- 
spondingly encouraged. Moreover, with a few exceptions, 
the Trade Unions are seldom able to enforce any definite 
policy for improving the teaching of learners, and some- 
times they have no policy to enforce. Everything, 
therefore, is left to chance, and the wonder is that 
abuses are not more prevalent. And as it is with the 
entry into a trade, so it is after entry. The contract between 
employer and learner very often does not guarantee teach- 
ing, but simply the "opportunity to learn." Frequently 


there is not even this. The boy is just employed as a 
wage-earner and demands his value as such. His chances 
then will and must depend largely upon himself, for, as 
stated in an earlier chapter, he is not trained in any scientific 
sense, but teaches himself or " gets to know." 

It is, indeed, inevitable that under modern conditions there 
should be a variety of methods of teaching trades, since no one 
device can fit all sorts and conditions of employment. The 
trouble, therefore, arises out of the absence of co-ordination 
between them. There is not only variety but mixture of 
methods ; and often two or more of them are .found side by 
side, not merely in the same trade, but even in the same firm. 
Of apparently similar employers, one will employ only bound 
apprentices, another only improvers, and a third perhaps 
will engage both indifferently. The difficulty, therefore, of 
describing existing methods is increased. Such description 
implies an actual separation and the existence of separate 
spheres of influence. There is, in fact, no such thing. 

Now this prevalence of chaos, for often it is little less, 
produces numerous evils. Advantages vary between one 
method and another, each having its own points of superior- 
ity, according to the conditions that happen to prevail. 
Some, too, have the greater immediate attraction, others 
more solid and lasting benefits. But when they are found 
side by side indiscriminately, abuses and misconduct are 
rendered easier. The absence of any definite standard of 
teaching assists the unscrupulous employer to exploit his 
apprentices, and sometimes the phenomenon occurs that 
bound apprentices are less well treated than boys who 
are not bound, and certain employers,who fortunately are not 
numerous, bind them for this very reason. 1 A definite pre- 
dominating system not only acts as a guide to the great 
bulk of the masters, but exposes clearly and at once any 
malpractices of this minority. Similarly the boy who 

1 The obverse of this picture is seen where an employer has gone 
to trouble and expense to teach a boy who is not bound to him, and 
then the latter leaves his employer just as his services are becoming 


misbehaves himself is comparatively safe in London, 
and, if dismissed from one job, has at first little difficulty in 
finding another. Thus exploitation on the one side, and 
drifting or slackness on the other, are liable to be greatly 

Especially is trouble experienced at the time when a boy 
first starts to earn wages. The absence of recognized 
methods and the other difficulties that beset London in- 
dustry, put an undue premium on those forms of employ- 
ment that present greatest immediate attraction. This 
strengthens the tendency that is latent in most boys, 
and in many parents, to set wage-earning before learning. 
The difficulty of finding, and getting into, the right occupa- 
tion is great for the reasons already given ; and thus the 
acceptance of the first thing that offers, good or bad, is felt 
to be almost a necessity. The preference for high wages 
over future prospects may not be there to begin with ; 
but under existing conditions it almost necessarily grows 
up sooner or later and, whilst these remain as they are, will 
continue to do so. 

Thus perhaps the most salient, and certainly the most 
dangerous, fact of the present day is the mental attitude of 
boys and their parents towards learning and earning. Here 
the old position no longer holds good. In the past the boy 
was regarded essentially as a learner, and both his employ- 
ment and his wages were conditioned by his position as 
such. Both he himself, his parents and his employers 
looked primarily to this. Nowadays the tendency is to put 
the wage-earner before the learner sometimes deliberately, 
sometimes from lack of knowledge, sometimes from failure 
in the attempt to get a good opening. 

Modern industry not seldom demands, indeed, that a lad 
should be a worker first and foremost and get to know his 
trade as he works. The employers employ and pay boys 
according to their commercial value, and boys, or their 
parents for them, come to demand wages in proportion to 
this, whilst such a demand on their part may in its turn 
compel employers to treat them solely as workers. Some- 


times the initiative comes from one side, sometimes from the 
other ;Jbut undeniably^even learners that is, those who are 
definitely employed as such get wages far more nearly in 
proportion to the value of their work than they used to do ; 
and thus the power of the employer to teach them is 
reduced. For, apart from any preference for uneducative 
labour because of its greater immediate returns, many boys 
prefer to obtain the highest wages that they can at some 
branch of a skilled trade and whilst so doing, take their 
chance of " getting to know "it. That is to say, the boy 
is regarded, and regards himself, as a wage-earner as well 
as a learner, if not as a wage-earner first and a learner only 

Thus do many circumstances arising out of its social and 
industrial peculiarities combine to produce and accentuate 
the absence of any system of Industrial Training in London 
at the present day. General conditions, disorder and con- 
fusion in the adoption of various methods, and the attitude 
towards learning and wage-earning, all exercise a bad 
influence upon training. Dangers and difficulties, that are 
more than usually serious, are not met by the careful organi- 
zation that is specially necessary, and full use is not made 
of such advantages as London undeniably possesses. On 
the contrary, unfavourable tendencies have been allowed to 
grow almost unchecked. Everything has been left to chance. 
Alongside of those who do learn, and many do, there is great 
loss in the waste or spoiling of much good material, in an 
altogether disproportionate number of failures, and in the 
growth of various types of half-taught workmen. Thus 
has the position of London fallen from one in which it set 
the ideal standard of Industrial Education to a state that 
is almost chaos ; and thus too the number of those who 
from various causes " graduate into unemployment," in the 
expressive phrase of the Minority Report, is unusually and 
unpleasantly large. 


Four Forms of Regular Service Formal Apprenticeship by Inden- 
ture Where Predominant : The Printing Trades, Book- 
binders, The Watermen, Smaller Trades. 

Less Formal Service By Verbal Agreement : On Good 
Behaviour: Working and Learning Conditions under which 
this last exists Predominance of Verbal Agreements : Engin- 
eeringPresence of small amount of Migration Its Causes 
Difference in this respect between Formal and Informal Service . 
The Third Form of Service or the Third and Fourth com- 
bined Optical and Scientific Instruments Continuity of 
Employment during Learning Existence of a class of Semi- 
skilled Workmen Silversmithing and the Art Metal Trades 
Less marked Prevalence of Service Considerable Minority 
learns by Migration Objection of many firms to Formal 
Apprenticeship Methods substituted for it. 

Position of Service in Industries where it is not Predominant 
Its Adoption by individual firms may be due to chance or 
caused by definite reasons Higher Class Firms utilize when 
the rest do not The Building Trades : Service more frequent 
in certain branches Best firms take fewest boys Illustra- 
tion of the Position in the case of the Joiners Objections to 
Formal Apprenticeship General Existence of Migration 
Other Branches : Carpenters, Plumbers, Plasterers, Masons, 
Bricklayers, Painters Contrast between Building and Printing 
Typical Character of the Former. 

Relation of Service to other methods where they are in com- 
petition Service and Migration Service and Following-Up 
Service and Picking-Up Partial Survival almost everywhere 
of Regular Service and even of Apprenticeship Differences of 
Method due to : (i) Locality, (2) Quality, (3) Demarcation of 
Hand and Machine Work, (4) Adoption of Apprenticeship for 
Special Reasons. 

Firms continuing Apprenticeship where it is no longer usual 
Large Well-organized Firms : Building Highly- Specialized 
Firms : Silverware The Good Small Firm The Premium 
Hunter Influence or Interest Character of these as Teachers. 

Growth of Short Service followed by Migration : Its Value 
Where adopted Apprenticeship direct to the men Instances 




of Survival Summary and Conclusion The Need for Regular 

EXISTING methods of entering a trade in London fall 
roughly into four, classes. The first is that in which it 
is acquired by Regular Service, involving permanence in 
the engagement under which a boy learns. It takes a 
variety of forms, namely : Formal Apprenticeship by In- 
denture, an Informal or Verbal Agreement (not legally 
binding), Employment during Good Behaviour (with usually 
a tacit understanding between the parties), and Working 
and Learning. In this last a boy gets a job to do a certain 
piece of work for a certain wage, and then gradually picks 
up the trade bit by bit, staying on in the same firm until 
he has done so ; but at no time is there any sort of agree- 
ment on its part to teach him anything. 

Between these types of Regular Service, therefore, there 
are many differences, but they have sufficient common 
essentials to form a single class. For the matter of primary 
importance is that under any one of them the boy is 
learning from beginning to end by continuous and regular 
employment in a single firm, though with Working and 
Learning, and as a rule with Employment during Good 
Behaviour, this is a matter of fact and not of agreement. 
But it is in the fact of permanence in one case and of lack 
of permanence in the other that the vital distinction lies 
between this and the second class Learning by Migration. 

The treatment of Regular Service, however, may best 
commence with the consideration of Formal Apprenticeship. 
The " mixture of methods " described in the last chapter 
has created confusion in the meaning of this term, but at 
present it is only with its narrower sense formal bound 
Apprenticeship that we are concerned. This still sur- 
vives in nearly every trade, though sometimes only to a 
very small extent, and in a few it remains predominant. 

In one important group, the Printing Trades, it is almost 
universal : and in their largest branch the Compositors' 
Society enforces strictly and successfully a rule of seven 
years* service under Indenture, thus confining entrance into 


the business and admission into the Society to those who 
have fulfilled this condition. 1 Though the provincial 
Unions appear to have been far less successful in this respect, 
exceptions to the rule in London are unusual, apart from those 
who have come there after serving their time elsewhere. 
A few small firms bind for five years instead of seven, and 
" compositors' improvers " are not unknown, since small 
offices which do some very simple work, will teach their 
boys just enough for their purpose, and if they are to learn 
more they will have to move on. Some of them can do a 
little machine work as well as a little compositing, but it 
is doubtful if they ever become competent men. They 
are, moreover, neither a large nor a growing body. The 
success of the system is further evidenced by the general 
testimony to the decrease of abuses and of failures to teach. 
Partly this is due to strict Trade Union organization, but 
partly also to the enforcement of a single definite system. 
Similar rules are also insisted upon, if not always so strictly, 
in the other branches. The small but growing trade of 
electrotypers and stereotypers has a strong Trade Union, 
and has been very successful in this matter. Both masters 
and men may and do disagree as to the details, but they 
accept the principle of Apprenticeship and recognize the 
need for restricting entry into the business to qualified men. 
Indentures are also usual in the small subsidiary process 
of Music Engraving. With warehousemen and cutters, on 
the other hand, methods are less regular, since the employ- 
ment ranks as a semi-skilled one. In individual cases, 

1 This refers only to those who are actually put to the Trade 
in London itself. The Society has not been able to exercise the game 
control over those who have learnt it elsewhere and afterwards 
come into London. Its rules, indeed, admit any one to membership 
who can actually obtain employment in a " fair house " in London. 
Hence a good portion of the provincial workmen appear not to have 
received a regular apprenticeship. On the other hand, it has been 
very successful in compelling nearly all who enter it in London to 
undergo a full seven years' service by Indenture; and appears recently 
to have regulated more strictly the admission of provincial work- 
men with a view to excluding those who have not received an ade- 
quate training. In insisting upon Apprenticeship, the Union has 
had the support of the great bulk of the employers. 


however, they are being regularized. Finally, with machine- 
managers and lithographers Apprenticeship is the general 
rule, and is gaining rather than losing ground, though the 
latter are [not quite so successful in enforcing it as are the 
other branches of their craft. It should be added that 
in some cases the influence of the Compositors and the 
advantages of adopting an uniform system in all the de- 
partments of a business has sometimes assisted the other 
Unions to establish or extend it. 1 

The machine managers insist strictly, and as a rule 
successfully, on Apprenticeship, in spite of the fact that 
they labour under the special disadvantage, that alter- 
native methods of entering their trade are more feasible 
than with the compositors. Both the platen hands and 
the machine-managers' assistants (printers' labourers) 
could, if left free to do so, work their way up to the superior 
position, getting first on to an easy machine and then on 
to more difficult ones. Cases of this sort have occurred : 
but the extension of the practice has been checked. If 
such men, therefore, are now to become managers, they 
must serve their time in the regular way : and bindings 
up to the age of twenty years are definitely recognized by 
the Union, so that youths of ability shall not be prevented 
from rising. In one instance that was brought to my 
notice, an overseer discovered such capacity in the man 
who eventually became his assistant overseer, but to enable 
him to learn the business he had to get him apprenticed. 
That this alternative process is a reality in the case of 
machine-managers is evidenced by the fact that even some 
Trade Unionists admit its possibility. Nevertheless, the 
Society has on the whole insisted successfully on the more 
regular method. 

Moreover learning, without a definite bond of some sort, 
is not only rare, but is becoming more so ; and there 

1 It is worth noting, however, that in this trade some firms will be 
Society Offices for some branches and non-Society for others. Not 
unfrequently they will recognize the conditions of the Compositors' 
Union, but not those of the others. 


is even a tendency to displace less regular methods by 
a modified form of apprenticeship. For instance, one 
employer who brought up his compositors in the ordinary 
way, used to adopt the following practice for his machine- 

" Formerly there used to be a good many who started as errand 
boys and progressed from that to be platen hands and so on. 
This method we ourselves preferred, but have abandoned it for 
a modified system under which our errand boys become platen 
hands as before, and after they have worked for us for about seven 
years we apprentice them as machine- managers and date their 
indentures back four years." 

The custom of dating back indentures, indeed, is cofnmon 
throughout the printing trades, and a fair number are so 
bound after working for a year or two as errand boys. 

Again with the lithographers, a large proportion of the 
members of their Unions appear to have served a formal 
Apprenticeship and the majority of the remainder under 
an informal agreement. In the larger houses which do 
both letterpress work and lithography, the former is adopted 
as in other branches, either for the sake of uniformity, or 
as a result of the influences of the Compositors' Union. 
Other offices, however, show more tendency to abandon it, 
especially in the case of the smaller ones. Taking the trade 
as a whole, however, there is an appreciable amount of 
casual learning or picking-up, as some employers put the 
smarter of their " laying-on " boys on to a simple machine, 
and, if they prove competent, gradually teach them the 
business. The actual length of service, again, varies with 
the lithographer from five to seven years, the latter being 
insisted upon in theory, the former frequently accepted 
in practice. 

Finally, the allied trade of Bookbinding occupies a pecu- 
liar position. Machine-binding, which carries out practically 
all the wholesale work, consists of a number of semi-skilled 
processes in which the necessary knowledge is too quickly 
acquired for a long Apprenticeship to be necessary or 
even desirable. It is required, however, in hand-book- 


binding, especially in the best class of it in which a very 
high level of skill is demanded. Thus, in leather-binding 
seven years' Apprenticeship is frequently insisted upon, 
whilst in the less skilled jobbing work five years is usual : and 
enforcement appears to be strict where high-class bookbind- 
ing is carried on as a department of a printing office. Else- 
where less regular methods exist, though the Bookbinders' 
Society exercises a considerable, if not a complete, con- 
trol. Indeed, except where machine production has been 
developed, Regular Service and even formal Apprenticeship 
have very largely survived. 

The Printing Trades are the only large group throughout 
which the stricter system is definitely enforced : but formal 
Apprenticeship is also insisted upon in a number of smaller 
trades. Of these the most important example is provided 
by the Lightermen and Watermen of the River Thames. 
Among them the old methods that have prevailed from 
the early days of the Watermen's Company still continue 
in force, though there are a certain number of openings 
through which unapprenticed labour can enter the business, 
Boys are bound to a Freeman of the Company, and at the 
close of their servitude receive the freedom themselves. 
The period of Apprenticeship varies from five to seven 
years, according to the age at which a lad is bound, the 
average age of binding being about sixteen. After two 
years the Apprentice undergoes an examination before 
the Court of the Company, and if he passes it satisfactorily, 
is allowed to have full charge of craft under his master's 
supervision. The occupation is largely hereditary, and 
many boys are bound to their own parents. 1 

Again London is an important centre of the industry 
of Brushmaking. In this a certain number of processes, 
notably " boring," have been taken over almost entirely 
by machines worked by juvenile labour : but in the others 

1 For fuller details, see Booth, Life and Labour of the People in 
London, vol. vii., Part iv., Ch. v., p. 373. He reckoned that at this 
time (1892) over 80 per cent, of the Apprentices were sons of those 
engaged in the work. 


the Society houses enforce binding for a definite period. 
These include nearly all the large firms and some of the 
smaller ones : and the practice is upheld by the employers. 
Apprenticeship lasts for five years in the general trade with 
a shorter period in exceptional cases, and for seven in the 
making of paint-brushes. It is the only recognized system 
where Trade Union conditions prevail : but in non-society 
shops no definite method is adopted, and it is said that 
the lads in them seldom become fully competent. Similarly 
seven years under Indenture is vigorously advocated by 
the journeymen's society in Leather Currying, and seems 
to be general, though not universal. In Engineers' Pattern- 
Making and in Diamond Mounting there is either an 
indenture or an informal agreement, but it is difficult 
to say which is the more common. 

Another trade in which Apprenticeship is still usual 
is that of Saddlery and Harness-Making, but owing to the 
substitution of motor for horse traction, very few learners 
are being taken at present. The trade has several branches 
the large Retail Saddlers, the Piece-Masters who work 
for them, the Wholesale Houses, and the small jobbing 
shops. Much of the work, especially that done by the two 
former, is very fine, and involves great care and skill, since 
heavy loss will often follow from an unskilful treatment of 
the leather. In each of these branches the learners are 
bound. When trade was more flourishing, and larger num- 
bers of boys were taken, the teaching was mainly in the hands 
of the Piece-Masters. A few boys refuse to accept the con- 
ditions of Apprenticeship, and there is a certain amount of 
migration in the wholesale trade. Otherwise, the character of 
the trade requires the former, and those who have not served 
their time have a difficulty in obtaining work in the better 
houses. Indeed the training and remuneration they afford 
would give Saddlery and Harness-Making many advantages, 
were it not for the existing check to their development . Simi- 
larly the small masters in Watchmaking employ few 
boys, but usually bind such as they have. 

If, however, apart from Printing and the Waterman's 


Society, Apprenticeship only predominates in a few small 
or stagnant trades, this does not set the limit to its 
influence. Except where an industry has been revolution- 
ized by machinery or subdivision of labour, it will be found 
to exist in a part, if only in a small part, of every skilled 
craft. But before dealing with this, we may first consider 
the trades in which, and the extent to which, the less formal 
types of Regular Service prevail. Between the three of 
them a clear distinction is frequently impossible in individual 
cases ; and many firms give the reality of Apprenticeship, 
whilst they refuse the form. Owing to the trouble an 
indentured apprentice may cause, they refuse to bind them- 
selves to teach and keep in reserve the valuable right of 
dismissal. In reality they do train their boys as well as if 
there were a formal agreement, and hence that which appears 
on the surface to be merely a wage contract the engage- 
ment of a boy to do so much work for so much pay gives 
in practice all that the more formal system does. The 
character of this informal service varies in different trades. 
In some the verbal agreement is as predominant as is the 
indenture in Printing : and in others Employment during 
Good Behaviour or the gradual promotion of errand boys 
is the usual method. 

The least formal of all has been described as " Working 
and Learning," where the employment of a boy during his 
training is actually regular without the existence of any 
sort of agreement. It is often very common where, 
as in the Building Trades, Regular Service is not predomin- 
ant. This is further confirmed by the fact that some only 
of the boys who start in this way stay on to learn a trade. 
In some cases, indeed, most of them get the chance of 
promotion as in that of the glue boys in joinery works : 
but in others only a small proportion do so. Thus, employ- 
ment in sawmills is to some extent a Partial Blind-Alley. 
Moreover, some of those who stay in these and other occu- 
pations have to move from firm to firm in order to learn, 
and do not work regularly in a single place throughout. 
Hence chance may largely determine whether the trade 


is acquired by Working and Learning or by Migration. 

Considering in detail the other types of Service, we find 
the strictly interpreted Verbal Agreement to be predominant 
in the Engineering Trades, and in some of the smaller 
industries attached to them. This is specially true of the 
processes of Fitting and Turning, to which in its narrowest 
sense the word Engineering is applied. 1 In them there has 
been some development of subdivision of labour, and of a 
class of semi-skilled machine-men for whom the Amalgamated 
Society of Engineers has made special rules and arrange- 
ment : but owing to its industrial character this class is not 
very large in London. Again, the tendency of the bigger 
firms to separate Fitting and Turning has produced a con- 
centration without a reduction of skill, since apart from 
this most of them still require all-round workmen, and over 
a very large proportion of the trade men are needed who 
can do both. 

London Engineering Shops may be divided into those of 
the Ship-Repairing Firms, those engaged upon new con- 
struction, those occupied with repairs and small orders, 
and those attached to other factories or businesses to keep 
the machinery in order. The second class is found mainly 
in the Outer Suburbs, and to a lesser degree in South London, 
and from it comes most of the demand for the more highly- 
specialized hands. Neither the third nor the fourth is, as 
a rule, on a sufficiently large scale to employ men solely 
as fitters or turners, and even in the more extensive Ship- 
Repairing Establishments, they have often to turn and 
prepare their work first in the shop, and then to go out 
on to the ship to fit it. 

To train men for their work, therefore, these three branches 
need some form of Regular Service for a considerable period, 
and this demand on their part is reinforced by the Board 

1 When the Engineers' Shop is spoken of, it generally means that 
in which the Erecting, Fitting and Turning are done, as opposed to 
the Smiths' Shop, the Founders' Shop, the Boiler Shop, and so on. 
In Greater London this is the largest homogeneous group in the 
Engineering and Metal Trades, containing over 16,000 workers as 
against about 13,000 smiths and strikers. 


of Trade's requirements for the granting of a Sea-going 
Engineer's Certificate. Formal Apprenticeship is not 
uncommon : but the informal Verbal Agreement pre- 
dominates. Under this the power of dismissal is retained 
in the last resort by the firm and that of leaving by the boy : 
but it is clearly understood that neither shall be exercised 
except when there is misconduct of some sort. Sometimes 
there is no actual agreement whatever, but the boys are 
taken on with the intention of employing them under similar 
conditions. One firm, for instance, which refused any 
definite responsibility, paid its boys according to a fixed 
scale of wages and trained nearly all of them. In Ship- 
repairing, indeed, a clearly understood Verbal Agreement 
is the rule, though one at least of the most important estab- 
lishments adopts a seven years' indenture. Five years, how- 
ever, is the usual period of service. The small masters 
follow much the same course. One of them said that formal 
Apprenticeship was dying out, but that their boys were 
carefully selected and treated much as apprentices used 
to be. 

Again in these sections of the trade employers are not 
favourably disposed towards improvers of the type who 
learn by moving from firm to firm. Some often declare 
themselves to be unable to find room for them, others 
regard them as unsuitable or incompetent, and in other 
cases they will only engage them during periods of pressure. 
In the Shipbuilding Districts, indeed, such Migration is 
even less common than elsewhere, and a boy usually serves 
at least three years in one place first, whilst in some other 
parts of the trade the practice of apprenticing for less than 
the full period is on the increase. Still improvers of this 
type do exist, though their numbers are comparatively small 
and they are not always known by this name. Thus it 
has been said of them : " They get a job to work at a certain 
wage, and are not supposed to be taught, but they do get 
taught just the same." 

Improvers are of a variety of types which will be more 
fully described in the next chapter. Some are complet- 



ing their education after serving an Apprenticeship. In 
Engineering and elsewhere, the existence of Verbal Agree- 
ments does, to some extent, increase their numbers, either by 
enabling the more restless to move about or the less scrupu- 
lous employers to put them off during slackness. Others, 
again, are cast adrift through the failure or bankruptcy of 
their masters, and some will lose their places through lack 
of ability or industry, who could not thus be got rid of if 
bound by an indenture. There must, indeed, be a fringe 
of such lads in almost any large trade, and in Engineering 
their position is usually due to accident or miscon- 

It is only in certain sections of it that Migration even 
approaches the position of a definite rival method of learn- 
ing, namely, where there is found subdivision either of pro- 
cesses or output. The former tends to produce men who 
are only skilled in working one or two machines, and the 
experience of some smaller employers is that the improvers 
who apply to them are the abler of those machine-men, 
who seek in this way to better their position. Subdivision 
of product, again, especially with the lighter electrical 
machinery, tends also to produce what from the employer's 
point of view is a type of work " specially suited to im- 
provers." It forms therefore an intermediate state between 
that of the beginner and that of the competent workman, 
and carries the learner a further stage on his journey. 
If, however, he is to complete it, he will probably have to 
move to other firms and so gradually perfect himself. 

Finally, the trade does provide openings, or rather chances, 
for an able boy to work his way up after starting in an 
inferior position. Small firms, and the small repairing 
shops attached to large factories, usually employ a lad 
to make himself generally useful to the men. The work, 
being chiefly repairs, is necessarily very varied, and the 
boy, from seeing it at close quarters, can hardly fail to learn 
sufficient to get a start, after which he can work his way 
up elsewhere. Not all who are so situated will make use 
of the opportunity, but only the smarter ones, Still under 


the Informal Agreement there is always left a loophole 
through which the latter can enter the trade ; and so far 
the position in Engineering differs from that found under 
formal Apprenticeship in Printing. Both methods have 
their advantages, but in any improved organization of In- 
dustrial Training some such opportunities of rising will have 
to be provided for those capable children who, from poverty 
or otherwise, have started in a lowly position. The Printing 
Trade itself, for instance, meets the need to some extent 
by the dating back of indentures in the case of lads who first 
came into an office to work as errand boys. 

From all that has been said, therefore, it follows that 
whilst the Verbal Agreement can be very markedly the 
predominant method of teaching, it cannot be so universally 
enforced as a Formal Apprenticeship sometimes is ; and 
the position of the Improver in Engineering has been dealt 
with at some length in order to illustrate the fact that 
without a binding indenture a certain small amount of Migra- 
tion is more or less inevitable. Of the other branches of 
the Engineering and Metal Industry, Smithing and Boiler- 
making adopt what I have called Following-Up. Otherwise 
the conditions are very similar to those just described. 
In London two of the largest of these trades are Tinsmithing 
and Iron and Brass Founding. In the former some form 
of Regular Service, but not, as a rule, Apprenticeship, is 
almost universal, except where the use of machinery has 
caused the abandonment of the old method of working ; and 
in practice regular employment is nearly always given during 
training. On the whole the same thing holds good in the 
case of Founding, though Migration is somewhat more 
common. Brass Finishing also is mainly taught by Regular 
Service and often under a Formal Apprenticeship, and 
the work in London has not been taken over by unskilled 
juvenile labour to the same extent as it has in some other 
centres. Finally, some agreement, formal or verbal, is 
usual with Patternmakers and Coppersmiths, whose methods 
of teaching are stricter and more regular than those of many 
others. It should be added, however, that owing to the 


peculiar character of London Industry, its methods cannot 
always be regarded as typical of other places. 

Regular Service also continues to hold its ground in the 
Making of Optical and Scientific Instruments, in the Precious 
Metal Trades and in Art Metal Work. The two latter, for 
a variety of reasons, show a greater proportion of Learning 
by Migration than does the former ; but all these crafts 
are noteworthy for the general adoption of Regular Service 
without the assistance of a definite agreement of any kind, 
formal or otherwise. Their boys are employed either 
" during good behaviour " or under even less definite condi- 
tions. Nevertheless they do as a rule learn their business 
throughout in a single firm. 

The manufacture of Optical and Scientific Instruments 
has two main branches Lens Making and Instrument 
Making in which the journeymen are known as glass and 
metal workers respectively. The latter again are divided 
into Framers and Turners, who correspond to the Engineers' 
Fitters and Turners, though the work of instrument-making 
is by many regarded as of somewhat finer quality. In the 
Spectacle Trade, again, there is a distinction between workers 
on white metal and on gold, and among the glass workers 
there is a special class of jobbing hands, who, when neces- 
sary, put an extra surface on the lens. Machinery is being 
used to an increasing extent in the commoner lines of glass, 
and especially on cheap spectacles ; but the finer grades are 
still done entirely by hand. In metal work the influence of 
machinery is less felt. Its amount varies little from firm to 
firm, and so a man is not in danger of being placed at a 
disadvantage if he has to seek employment in a new shop. 

These trades combine a very high degree of skill with a 
rather marked subdivision of labour between the different 
classes of goods which they produce. These vary from 
cheap spectacles to the largest telescopes and surveying 
instruments. In a sense, therefore, the making of each of 
them is a separate branch in itself and frequently a man will 
not make nor try to make any other than his own. The 
work is fine and delicate and requires a very high level of 


skill and this makes it difficult to take up more than one 
branch. Thus the teaching is necessarily narrow, but, 
though narrow, it is also very thorough, and as a result these 
trades lend themselves to a regular form of service, without 
the support either of a legal binding or a definite agree- 
ment. The same cause also operates to check casual migra- 
tion from firm to firm, except where a boy has already spent 
at least three years in a single place. Apart from this there 
are only a few exceptions, caused chiefly by gross failure to 
teach during service. 

Both Formal Apprenticeship and the payment of a pre- 
mium have practically died out. One large firm said : 
" We have a few indentured apprentices ; but we prefer to 
take on common boys, starting them as errand boys and 
teaching them for ourselves." These latter it employed 
" during good behaviour," but seldom or never exercised 
its power to dismiss them. In another case there were two 
classes of boys, apprentices and learners, and in this way 
they are still classified by some people. Only a few firms, 
however, continue to take the former. " Practically speak- 
ing," I was told, " there is no bound Apprenticeship, partly 
because a few persons pay premiums of 50 or 60 with a 
view to entering the trade as employers, and there would 
therefore be a difficulty in apprenticing the others." Its 
disuse, however, was also attributed to the difficulty of 
getting premiums or of inducing boys to work without 
wages. " The usual policy," it was said, "is to take what 
you can get and if a 50 premium is forthcoming it is taken, 
if not a boy is employed at a nominal wage, and failing that 
as an errand boy at 55. a week." The latter is the normal 
method ; and its results are classed as on the whole " pretty 
fair," but are sometimes held to be inferior to those likely 
to be produced by the more formal system. A good deal 
of opinion, moreover, favours the possibility of reviving 
the latter. 

As it is boys are usually taught in one of two ways. They 
may start as " learners," either with a verbal agreement, or 
even more frequently with a tacit understanding, to the 


effect that they shall get certain wages and, provided that they 
give satisfaction, regular employment and teaching. The 
employer can dismiss them and they in turn will stay only 
so long as they are decently treated. This is " employment 
during good behaviour," and neither side is legally bound 
to the other. 

Secondly, many are taken on in the first place as errand 
boys, and then, if they are smart, get to the bench and gradu- 
ally pick up the trade. To begin they run errands, sweep up 
the shop and in their spare time do simple manual work. 1 
Then,when things are slack, two or three of the men teach them 
a little in order to make them useful and they progress in this 
way. This method is adopted by some of the larger firms but 
is most common among the small employers of good reputa- 
tion. The latter sometimes refuse to take any direct respon- 
sibility, but give such excellent chances of learning that 
employment with them is very much sought after. 

Its continuity in either case is hardly questioned. Early 
on, by a rough and ready selection, those who are obviously 
unsuited to the trade are got rid of, but otherwise the 
employer's right of dismissal is seldom exercised, and then 
only for incompetence or misconduct. Nominally retention 
or dismissal could sometimes be determined either by the 
state of trade or by the boys' own behaviour. In reality 
everything depends upon the latter, and if it is satisfactory 
the firm contrives to keep them on. In any case they are 
less likely to be put off when trade is slack than the men are, 
since within limits errand boys are always needed. The 
chief complaint is that they are kept for a long time on one 
sort of work only. But if they look after themselves, and 
if they insist on being put to better jobs, decent employers 
will probably give it to them, or, as it was once expressed, 
" If they are kind." If it is refused, migration to another 
firm may take place. 

1 Conditions in the manufacture of leather goods are often very 
similar to this ; but in them a regular division of the time will some- 
times be made by which the boys will do the errands in the morning 
and work at the bench in the afternoon. 


There is, however, one important exception. In some 
cases, those who have started at 55, or 6s. a week quickly 
become expert at certain processes, such as " roughing up " 
the glass and soon earn full piece-rates at them. This is 
semi-skilled work, but a quick worker can make good 
money and some are content to remain at it. Again, the 
semi-skilled machine-workers are somewhat better off than 
in Engineering. Their work, being done in smallish quan- 
tities, is far more varied, and they have to set their own 
machines ; and so they get better wages. Moreover, some 
of these men, both in glass and metal work, succeed in 
rising. First they move to other shops in which most of the 
work is similar to their own, but other sorts are done as 
well, and, then, in lens work, to the " prescription " shops 
to which retailers send their orders to be made up. Here 
they get jobs of every kind and eventually become fully 
trained mechanics. 

The Art Metal Trades are composed of a number of 
separate crafts, among which is one large and important one, 
that of Gold and Silversmiths. The others are small and 
include Silver Spinners, Diamond Setters and Mounters, Die- 
Sinkers, Engravers, Block and Tool Cutters, Metal, Coin, 
and Ring Makers, Chasers, and Enamellers. Here the pre- 
dominance of Regular Service, especially in Silversmithing 
and Chasing, is not so marked. The cheaper work often forms 
a Blind- Alley employment for juvenile labour. Specializa- 
tion by individual firms on particular articles sometimes 
necessitates migration ; and on both sides the abuses 
fostered by the absence of a binding agreement are not 
limited to the same extent by the delicate character of the 
work as they are in Instrument Making. Thus certain 
firms will lead a boy to understand that they will teach him, 
and then turn him adrift when he is about eighteen. On 
the other hand, some boys for the sake of rather better 
wages will leave an employer who has incurred trouble and 
expense in teaching them. Normally, however, any under- 
standing, however indefinite, is loyally observed, both by 
masters and learners. 


The amount of Migration, therefore, is decidedly greater 
than in Engineering or Instrument Making, but neverthe- 
less Service remains the predominant method. Unfortun- 
ately, Formal Apprenticeship is most likely to be found 
in those shops which are least likely to be able to train boys 
thoroughly. First, there are the very large firms, with an 
extensive subdivision of processes, whose organization 
requires that the learners shall make themselves very highly 
skilled indeed at one part of the trade only. At the other 
end of the scale, the very small concerns contain an undue 
proportion of premium-hunters or of men who lack the 
capacity to teach properly. 

The majority of firms, however, refuse to bind them- 
selves formally. This applies more particularly to those of 
moderate size which are often best fitted to train boys. 
Their work is at least fairly good. It is largely done by 
hand, though the use of the spinning lathe is increasing. It 
is as varied as the prevailing specialization of output will 
allow, and with them this last is not carried so far as it is in 
the very small firms. They, therefore, give the best teach- 
ing, but, though all the conditions are otherwise favourable, 
take few bound apprentices. Arrangements are much the 
same as in instrument work. Either a lad is employed as 
a learner " on good behaviour " with an agreed scale of 
wages ; or he goes as an errand boy for a year or so, working 
at the bench in his odd moments, and gradually coming to 
spend all his time there, till after about two years another 
is taken on to do the errands. Probably on the average the 
former gets the best teaching ; but the latter is also well looked 
after as a rule, though his progress is necessarily slower. In 
either case, his chances will depend largely on himself. If 
he is civil and obliging and industrious, he will get helped 
and pushed on. If he is not, he is likely to be kept back. 
By the employers, again, the disadvantages arising from 
these methods are often found to be less than those which 
accompany Indentured Apprenticeship ; but it cannot be 
denied that if they escape some of the latter, they produce 
other defects of their own. This matter will be more fully 
considered in a later chapter. 


To sum up, therefore, the trades in which some form or 
other of Regular Service is predominant, cover no inconsider- 
able part of the field. Indentured Apprenticeship prevails in 
Printing, the Verbal Agreement in most of the Engineering 
and allied trades, Employment " during Good Behaviour," 
or Working and Learning in Optical and Scientific Instru- 
ment Work and in the Art Metal Group. Moreover, even 
where Regular Service does not embrace the whole of an 
industry, individual trades in it, like Upholstery, still adopt 
it to a considerable extent, whilst Service by " Working 
and Learning " is found in a considerable minority of cases 
even where Migration is most common. 

In short, there are few trades from which it has entirely 
disappeared. Usually a minority of firms bring up their 
boys in this way, and with them informal service is more 
frequent than formal. Often no definite rule is observed. 
Shops of similar size and character adopt different methods, 
or again a single firm may be teaching its boys in a variety 
of ways. Special reasons will account for the occasional 
presence of indentures. The- sons of foremen and old hands, 
friends' sons or relatives, or boys introduced by those with 
whom the employer does business, get specially favourable 
terms, whilst others have to work their way up as best they 
can or are taken on to do certain work and discharged 
at its close. Hence the impression given is often one of 
complete chaos ; but on closer inspection, the better-class 
firms usually show some sort of regularity in their policy. 

Of this state of affairs an excellent example is afforded 
by the Building Trades, where Regular Service has to 
contest the ground, not only with other methods, but with 
a very larger influx of provincially trained work-people. 
Here and in the Woodworking Trades, the shops which 
teach their boys under the best conditions are usually those 
that recruit the largest proportion of their labour from 
outside London. Nevertheless many of the smaller firms 
give at least a very good grounding in the trade, and often 
get considerable variety of work, whilst subdivision of 
processes and the use of machinery affect to some extent 


the advantages possessed by the bigger ones. Indeed, it is 
sometimes suggested that boys should first learn what the 
small shop can teach and only proceed later to work in the 
larger ones. Nevertheless, it is unfortunate that some and 
often the best of the latter can take so few of them. 

Here one or two special matters require notice. In these 
trades, a certain though fortunately not a numerous class 
of employers utilizes Formal Apprenticeship as a means of 
obtaining a supply of cheap boy labour, and this practice is 
most likely to occur in those cases in which its survival 
is only casual. Secondly, Regular Service of some sort is 
more usual in some sections of the group than in others. 
With joiners a growing dislike of bound apprentices is ac- 
companied by considerable readiness to take boys "on good 
behaviour " ; and my own experience has been that joiners' 
apprentices are taken by some firms who have given up 
doing so in other branches. Indentures, however, are found 
most frequently among the plumbers in conjunction 
with the method of " Folio wing-up." Thirdly, the bigger 
firms of good class form usually within each trade a small 
group that insists upon Regular Service. Existing con- 
ditions do not enable them to teach many boys at least with 
profit to themselves but their organization does not lend 
itself to a haphazard influx of improvers and other partially 
trained workmen. They will sometimes take turn-overs, 
that is to say, boys cast adrift by the failure or dissolution 
of other businesses, or young men who have served their 
time elsewhere and are completing their education, but 
seldom or never the ordinary migratory improver. 

This latter point may be illustrated by reference to the 
practice of certain well-known firms with whom I came in 
contact during my investigations. In the cases quoted, the 
information dealt with the Joiners' Shop, except in the first, 
third and fourth, where the answers covered all the branches 
of the trade. 

I. No boys taken. 
II. Bound Apprentices with premium. Improvers 


only in the case of turnovers or Apprentices 
out of their time. 

III. Apprentices bound and unbound, but the former are 

apparently being replaced by the latter. Im- 
provers much as with Firm No. II. 

IV. Boys taken on Probation for two years and then 

drafted into the Joiners' Shop as unbound 
Apprentices. 1 

V. Shop-boys, if capable, promoted to the bench and 
employed " during good behaviour. " Some 
improvers. The Foreman stated that in their 
own interest boys ought after three or four 
years to move into another firm. 

VI. Bound Apprentices with Premium, and Improvers. 
The latter, though liable to be put off, are 
seldom dismissed in practice. 

VII. Bound Apprentices, with power of dismissal re- 
tained, by a clause in the Indenture, in the case 
of misconduct. 

VIII. Sons of men working for the firm taken on and 
employed with their fathers " on good be- 
haviour/' The Foreman said he could get 
plenty of improvers, but would not have them. 
IX. Bound Apprentices, sometimes with a Premium. 

Foreman opposed to taking Improvers. 
X. Have been accustomed to take Apprentices, but are 

giving it up. No Improvers. 

Thus among the bigger firms the alternative seems to be 
between employing boys under regular conditions or not at 
all, and the sons or relatives of the workmen frequently get 
the preference for available places, but do not always utilize 
it. The cases quoted, however, do not represent fairly the 
growing tendency to substitute informal for formal con- 
tracts. An instance was recently brought to my notice 
where an attempt was made to apprentice two boys as 

1 This method is also applied throughout the business, the boy 
after his two years' probation going to whichever branch he appears 
to be best suited for. 


joiners. Ten firms were approached and of these nine 
stated that they had ceased to bind boys by indenture, 
finding them to be too much trouble, and the tenth replied 
that places were reserved for sons of their own men, of whom 
they had some already on their books awaiting an opening. 
In addition to the larger firms, however, shops of all kinds 
take an occasional apprentice, some as a regular thing, others 
to oblige an employe or a friend, or because they fancy a 
boy : whilst some of the smaller ones, who are ready to do 
this on payment of a small premium, give an admirable 
return for the money. 

Nevertheless, throughout the trade as a whole, migratory 
improvers are common, some being London boys and others 
young men from outside, who are perfecting their education. 
The latter will be dealt with later. As to the frequent exist- 
ence of the former, the Foreman in Firm IV stated that some 
of the boys apprenticed after probation left them to get 
better wages, as improvers, and then found they were not 
as good as they thought they were. Another foreman 
(Firm VI) said he could get plenty of them if he wished, 
which he did not, and a third objected to employing them 
because this meant that they picked up their trade "as it 
were in the gutter." Again a young South London journey- 
man said that the common method was " to start as a 
glueboy and work up as best you can in one or more 
shops," and a prominent Trade Unionist that there was 
"a lot of swapping shops and foremen." The Labour 
Exchange applications from employers also show a demand 
for both carpenters' and joiners' improvers, especially the 
former, and the head of an important Trade School divided 
the boys there into three classes bound apprentices, 
learners with a verbal agreement, and improvers. 

In the larger firms carpenters and joiners form two dis- 
tinct classes, but the smaller ones, on the contrary, continue 
to employ all-round men who do the work of both. This is 
one of the reasons for preferring them to the larger ones, 
because in them lads have not only to prepare a job in the 
shop, but to go out and fix it on the building afterwards, 


and thus get an all-round knowledge before specializing on 
either branch. In the larger concerns, however, they 
usually grow up either carpenters or joiners, and the 
attempt to give them a knowledge of both is sometimes 
frustrated by their refusal to leave the comforts of the 
joiner's shop and go out on the building. Carpentering is 
much the rougher job and on the whole requires less skill and 
more strength, and as a result the teaching of it is less regular. 
Boys are taken on to make themselves generally useful and 
take their chance of picking it up as best they can. 

It is in Plumbing, however, that the need for a definite 
and clearly defined system of teaching has been most fully 
realized, and much attention has been paid to it, both by 
the Plumbers' Company and by the Operative Plumbers' 
Society, their efforts being directed largely to the revival of 
Apprenticeship. Whether a lad is apprenticed or not, 
indeed, he acquires his knowledge by the process known as 
" folio wing-up." He must work for a considerable period 
as mate to a journeyman, 1 learning all about the trade in- 
this way, till the time comes when he " gets hold of the 
tools " for himself. The apprentice usually does this 
in the latter part of his time, other lads obtain work 
as improvers after a few years as mates, and the way 
they are actually taught is much the same whatever the 
form of engagement under which they learn. Those who 
work under a legal or verbal agreement are probably in a 

In Plastering, the disappearance of the hawk boy, who 
served the men with material and proceeded from this 
to learn the business, appears to have led to some slight 
revival of Regular Service, and the bigger firms either take 
bound or unbound apprentices or employ lads regularly 
after starting them " about the shop." There are not, 
however, quite such frequent objections, as with joiners, to 
the migratory improver. Thus one foreman said, " I take 
on boys who are sacked from other firms. These can always 
find places because so few are entering the trade." Another 
1 See Chapter VI. 


who had other boys as well as bound apprentices under him 
always tried to keep them on, though they were liable to 
dismissal. Another firm said, " We only employ boys 
casually when we are very busy," and yet another had 
sometimes to take on boys with their fathers ; and in this 
case the two were paid off together. But a large number of 
the lads, especially in the smaller firms, are continually on 
the move, though it is possible that, as with the stone- 
masons, this restlessness has been somewhat checked by 
the recent long-continued depression in house-building. 
One employer complained that " the boys are always 
moving, so that it is impossible to make anything of them " ; 
and among the smaller firms, especially those engaged in open- 
ing up the suburbs, the less regular system is undoubtedly 
very prevalent. A representative of the Trade Union 
spoke of much unemployment among youths in the trade, 
and implied the existence of a great deal of migration. He 
put it that " they steal their trade," getting into a shop 
usually through influence, staying there as long as possible, 
and then going off elsewhere. Finally, the growing separa- 
tion of " solid " and " fibrous " work is rendering it difficult 
to learn the whole business in a single place, so that some 
migration is inevitable. 

Stonemasons, again, show the same irreducible minimum 
of Apprenticeship and Regular Service, but the large firms 
take very few boys. Masons appear to be comparatively 
immune from seasonal fluctuations, partly because so much 
of the work is on large contracts which go on summer and 
winter alike, partly because men can be transferred to the 
yard when rain or frost stops work on the building. Cases 
are found where formal Apprenticeship is being abandoned, 
and the number of improvers is further increased by those 
employers who bind a considerable number of boys and 
then teach them only a single part of the trade, so that their 
only hope of learning it properly is to go on elsewhere. Com- 
plaint is also made that boys are always moving from firm 
to firm to secure better wages and only discover when too 
late that they are growing up very ill-taught. This, how- 


ever, is not so marked now as in the years of very brisk 
trade between 1895 and 1900. Some firms, too, have both 
bound apprentices and improvers and as trade slackens some 
of the latter have to be put off. In this trade, indeed, there 
is little doubt that some of the most successful men have 
acquired the business by Migration. 

In Bricklaying, even fewer contractors indenture their 
boys l and verbal agreements are uncommon. On most 
large buildings, however, there are one or two who are making 
themselves generally useful, and if they have the capacity, 
an effort is usually made to teach them. This leads, there- 
fore, to some survival of Regular Service of the fourth type. 
Normally, however, the business is acquired by Migration or 
by a labourer working his way up. A young fellow gets an 
" insight " into the work in the latter capacity and then 
" gets hold of a trowel " and does the easier parts of it, and 
when a job comes which he cannot do, he " gets sacked." By 
this time, however, he has learnt a little. He then goes to 
another firm and repeats the process over and over again 
until he becomes competent. The higher parts of the trade he 
cannot master in this way, but he can learn them later on 
with the help of a Technical School. This method is strongly 
opposed by the Bricklayers' Society and can only be success- 
ful where it is weak or non-existent ; but it is quite frequently 

In Painting and Decorating, several grades of workmen 
must be distinguished. Among the highly-skilled and well- 
paid interior decorators, employed by the West London 
Furnishing Houses, the few remaining apprentices are found. 
Occasionally, also, a sort of " patrimony " survives. Thus 
one well-known firm said " we have two or three families 
of painters who have worked for us for generations and 
the fathers bring their sons up to the trade." Otherwise 
this branch of it is recruited almost entirely from outside 

The ordinary house painter employed on building con- 
tracts is seldom or never apprenticed, but starts as a boy 

1 Apprenticeships, when they exist, usually last for four years. 


helping the men, then gets the rough work like " washing 
down " the walls to make ready for the painters, and next 
does a little of the easier painting, such as putting on the 
first coat or doing parts which do not show much. He thus 
gradually progresses. Occasionally, he gets regular em- 
ployment from beginning to end in a single firm, but the 
marked winter slackness and the general irregularity of the 
trade is against this. Migration, therefore, is very frequently 

Finally, there is the casual brush-hand, who gets into the 
trade anyhow, often when he has been compelled to leave 
his regular employment, since some of the work requires 
little more capacity than that of an ordinary labourer. 
Soldiers and, more frequently, sailors, turn to it and also 
the failures of nearly every trade, whilst large numbers of 
the chronically unemployed will be found to have done 
painting at some time during their lives. Those who wish 
to take to it permanently can soon learn enough for the 
purpose, for the trade has a few months of high pressure, 
notably in March, April and August, when almost any one 
can get a job, and the foremen are sometimes reduced to 
picking out " those who look like painters " from among a 
crowd of applicants. 

As a whole, therefore, a marked feature of the Building 
Trades is that in them Regular Service has ceased to be a pre- 
dominant system and is engaged in close competition with 
rival methods ; but, at the same time, it is still insisted upon 
by the better-class employers, whose work is most regular. 
As in Printing, though to a much lesser extent, those firms 
that adopt Regular Service in one branch may do the same in 
others. Thus the few apprentices in Bricklaying are found 
where there are also joiners', plumbers', and masons' 
apprentices. This uniformity, however, cannot be relied 
upon, and more frequently indentures are only adopted 
with joiners or with joiners and plumbers. In Printing, 
the system enforced consistently by its largest and strongest 
section has extended or maintained its sway over the others. 
In Building its adoption in one or two branches sometimes 


leads to its extension to some of the others, but this exten- 
sion is seldom universal and never includes the painters. 

This long description must find its justification in the 
fact that the Building Trades are in many ways typical 
of the state of affairs in those skilled industries in which 
Regular Service only shares the field with other methods. 
In some of them, indeed, conditions are even more chaotic 
than they are here : and their experience suggests the 
need for the general restoration, not necessarily of formal 
Apprenticeship, but of some form of regulated service suited 
to modern conditions. And just as, where Regular Service 
prevails, the presence of other methods is also found, from 
the few compositors' improvers to the much larger numbers 
in the case of Silversmithing, so, too, there is hardly any 
skilled trade from which even formal Apprenticeship has 
entirely disappeared. 

A few words may now be said as to the relative position 
of Regular Service in trades where it is not predominant. 
Migration resembles it in the need for a long period of 
actual learning, and differs from it in the continual move- 
ment from firm to firm. Indeed, where a trade is divided 
between the two, Service usually survives in the more 
highly skilled branches and Migration elsewhere : but which 
will be adopted in individual cases can often be decided 
only as a question of fact. The latter is very frequently 
found in London. With the exception of Upholstery 
and, perhaps, Wood Carving it is quite as common in the 
Woodworking and Furniture as in Building Trades. 
Except possibly with the bodymakers, it is much utilized 
in Coach and Van Building, as it is also in the making 
of leather goods, and as already described has made 
appreciable inroads into the Art Metal and Engineering 

Where a single mechanic or a squad is assisted by one 
or more helpers boys, youths or adults the younger 
workers spend some years serving the men before they get 
hold of the tools, and after this gradually work their way up. 
This is the process to which I have applied the term " follow- 


ing-up," and the trades in which it prevails form a group 
by themselves. In them a boy starts with a long period 
of Regular Service, not as a learner, but as a labourer who 
helps the skilled man and by this means gets to learn 
all about the work. After this he is given the tools and 
learns to do it himself. In this group are included smiths, 
plumbers, gas and hot-water fitters, leather splitters, 
boiler and tank makers, glass blowers and wire weavers, 
and in all of them except Leather-Splitting and Wire- 
Weaving, there is some survival of formal Apprenticeship. 
It is most common in Plumbing, not infrequent in Smithing 
and Gasfitting, but less so in Plating, whilst it is very 
occasionally found among the Rivetters, as one or two of 
their foremen try to insist upon it. 1 

The case is somewhat different when we turn to those 
employments which are properly described as semi-skilled, 
such as many of the processes in Boot and Shoe Factories 
and in Leather Dressing, Wholesale Bookbinding and 
Engineer's Machine Minding, to give only a few examples : 
for in them formal Apprenticeship, or even a long period of 
service, have ceased to be necessary or even desirable. If 
they have held their ground, therefore, it is not in these 
particular branches, but in those parts of the trade that 
have not been affected by the newer methods, and more 
especially where hand-work has survived, as in Leather 
Bookbinding and Bespoke Bootmaking ; for these still 
demand a high, and often a very high, level of skill, and 
need a regular training to produce it. 

Hence, whatever method is predominant, there are very few 
trades in which there is no survival at all, either of Appren- 
ticeship or Regular Service ; but where this survival is only 
casual, it has not the same value, since the method cannot 
then set a standard like it does where it predominates. In- 
deed, when Apprenticeships are rare, their appearance is 
sometimes the result of purely accidental influences. Never- 

1 This description of London must not be taken to apply to other 
centres, in some of which Apprenticeship to these trades is far 
more frequent. 


theless, differences of method can often be traced to real 
distinctions in the character of the work or the class of shop ; 
and these will to some extent determine whether Regular 
Service or Migration shall be adopted. 

First of all, as has been illustrated by the case of the 
Building Trades, size and organization often exercise a 
decisive influence. The work of the bigger firms is com- 
paratively regular, whilst those of moderate size not only 
do not have such a consistent turn-over, but, even when 
they have, the numbers employed in the different sections 
may vary enormously. One job may need few men except 
bricklayers and masons, 1 another may employ a much 
greater proportion of plasterers, joiners and plumbers. 
There is, however, an increasing tendency for a firm to 
specialize on a single branch, Plumbing, Plastering, Masonry 
and so on ; whilst at- the other end of the scale small 
firms will often be able to keep one or two apprentices 
continuously employed. 

Secondly, differences in method often accompany differ- 
ences in the quality of the work, whilst these different 
qualities may each be localized in separate districts. I 
have already described the case of the Furniture Trades, 
in which Service of some kind is almost universal in the 
high-class retail trade of West and North- West London, 
and Migration is very common in the much larger whole- 
sale industry of the Eastern Boroughs. 

Thirdly, there is often a line of demarcation between hand 
and machine work. The latter usually divides a trade into 
a number of semi-skilled processes ; but has if anything 
accentuated the need for Regular Service in the higher 
branches. Sometimes, especially with hand work, a seven 
years' Apprenticeship still survives as in certain classes of 

Finally, Apprenticeship, usually with a premium, will 
be resorted to where a special effort has to be made 
to get an individual boy taken, such as in cases of 
physical deficiency, with Jewish boys who need special 

1 A ^Church Restoration, for instance, 


conditions to provide for their religious observances, and 
sometimes for the purpose of getting a bad or unmanage- 
able lad taken. This latter device only makes matters 
worse as a rule, but the two former are legitimate and 

Before leaving this matter, however, one may sum up 
shortly what are the different classes of firms who continue 
to indenture where this has ceased to be the rule ? 
First, there are those very large firms of a type common in 
the Building Trades, whose organization is best suited by 
the regular employment of such boys as they teach, though 
usually they take only a few. With them the otherwise 
excellent conditions are modified by the taking over of 
many of the preliminary processes by machinery. Secondly, 
apprentices are found in businesses adopting a very high 
degree of specialization, which requires each boy to become 
a highly-skilled worker at a single part of the trade. He will 
still rank as skilled, and will be exceptionally so in his own 
line ; but is at a disadvantage if he has to seek work else- 
where, owing to the small number of firms that require 
his particular skill. Indeed, it is this, rather than any 
actual deficiency in the teaching, that is the real cause 
of the trouble. 

Similarly, the smaller firms who take apprentices fall 
into two classes. First, there is the ordinary run of them, 
who usually have room for one or two whom they are glad 
to take, especially if a small premium goes with them. 
Often they get sufficient variety of work to enable them 
to give training that is well up to, if not above, the average ; 
and even if its quality does not allow of this, they are well 
fitted to give a lad a thorough grounding in the business. 
On the other hand, their work may sometimes lack variety, 
and be confined to one or two lines of goods, but on the whole 
they give a good chance of learning, and make an honest 
attempt to carry out their part of the contract. 

This, however, is not the case with the other type of 
small apprenticing employer, namely, the premium-hunter. 
Such men often work alone or with not more than one or 


two men, and have been described as " making their 
living " by always having one or two apprentices with a 
large premium of 30 or 40. x These they are usually 
unable to teach ; often they " make trash " or do such a 
small variety of work, that even if they possess the capacity 
they cannot give their boys teaching of any value. Thus, 
even where the employer does his best, it is rightly con- 
tended that he has no more right than the deliberate exploiter 
to take apprentices, since he is not in a position to give 
them a proper training. 

Lastly, firms of every class and size take Apprentices for 
other than business reasons, and between them bind a not 
inconsiderable number of boys. Sometimes the employer 
does not feel in a position to refuse the request of a good 
workman or the recommendation of a personal friend or 
business connection. Others, again, take a fancy to boys 
employed to make themselves useful about the works, and 
decide to indenture them. For instance, one small master 
in the Cabinet Trade does not usually take apprentices, 
and the five he has had during the last twenty years or so 
have all started with him as " little boys " about his shop, 
and have been bound because they displayed some capacity 
and aroused his interest. Moreover, frequent though such 
cases are at present, it is not probable that this " unemployed 
good- will " is as yet by any means exhausted. In this 
way, too, Skilled Employment Associations have sometimes 
found it possible to get over the refusal of a firm to appren- 
tice : for " we sometimes induce them to take boys by 
getting them interested in our work or in the boys we send 
them." And Apprenticeship under such conditions is 
likely to have a peculiar value, since the giving of special 
care to the teaching is practically assured. 

Taken as a whole, then, in the trades where formal Appren- 

1 An instance was given me of a Diamond Setter (engaged, that 
is, on the process of fixing the Diamonds in the mounting of a piece 
of jewellery), who for the last twenty or thirty years has never had 
less than two apprentices working for him. He gets with each a 
premium of ^40, and is said to be quite incompetent to teach them. 


ticeship is uncommon, we find that, even omitting the worst 
cases of deliberate exploitation, a good many of these 
apprentices are not employed under the most favourable 
conditions. For to set against the good small shop, the larger 
firms in the Building Trades, and the class last mentioned, 
there are those that are peculiarly unsuited for the purpose 
the large works which are over-specialized and the small 
premium-hunters. Moreover, that type which is often best 
for the purpose the business of medium size frequently 
refuses altogether to bind itself by an indenture. 

This, therefore, is the position of the older form of Appren- 
ticeship in some industries, but the beginnings of a new, and 
what promises to be a valuable development is to be 
seen in the growth of short period Apprenticeships, usually 
for four years, instead of five, six, or seven. This practice 
combines, or maybe made to combine, the advantages both 
of Regular Service and of Migration. It ensures regularity 
and continuity of employment during the earlier working 
years when the danger of a boy running wild is greatest. 
It also meets the frequent difficulty of learning a trade 
entirely in a single firm. Short Apprenticeships give a 
good grounding in a trade and " make a lad into a good 
improver," and as such he can perfect his knowledge by 
migrating to other places. Moreover, when he comes to 
do this, he knows what he wants and what the conditions 
of his trade require, and is of an age and experience to 
look after himself better, and so avoids, or at least is less 
likely to surfer from, the dangers that beset a younger 
improver. The chief objection to this method is that, if 
the binding is for too short a period, the employer may have 
no course but to specialize a boy upon one branch of the 
work ; and it is perhaps unsuited to the most highly skilled 
trades. Still, under proper safeguards, it should help to 
solve many of our existing problems : and if ever a uniform 
system of training is to be restored it will probably follow 
some such lines. 

At present the device of Short Service followed by Migra- 
tion appears to be most frequently utilized in parts of the 


Engineering Trades. It is sometimes adopted in heavy 
engineering, but is perhaps even better suited to the lighter 
work on electrical machinery and implements. In the 
latter it has to contest the field with a tendency to grade 
the work among boys in different stages of knowledge and 
skill : and in one important firm it was being adopted to 
replace less regular methods. After spending a certain 
time on various simple machines, the boys were to choose 
their trade from a number of alternatives and spend the 
rest of their four years' service at it. Again, in the Art 
Metal Group, shorter periods of three or four years are not 
unknown, and they are also found occasionally in the Build- 
ing and Furniture Trades. Moreover, even where they 
are not actually in existence, some of the foremen are be- 
ginning to advocate them in the interest of the boys. In a 
large furniture factory, for instance, in both the joiners' 
and cabinet makers' shops, the foremen commended the 
refusal of the firm to indenture their lads on the ground 
that they should be free to move elsewhere after a certain 
time, and that they ought to do so. So, too, in the Building 
Trades a boy may be best suited by a small shop in his 
earlier years and by a larger one later on. These reasons, 
too, are also beginning to set employers against the longer 
period of indenture, and, generally speaking, opinion in 
favour of the new method appears to be growing. 

On the other hand, Apprenticeship direct to the men 
seems to be dying out. It is still found in the process of 
Gold and Silver Wire-Drawing, a very small trade indeed, 
and occasionally in the Japanning of Leather. The most 
important instance of it, however, is in one of the preliminary 
processes of Leather Manufacture, namely, Fleshing, which 
may be briefly described. 

After leaving the lime-pits, the skins are brought to a 
flesher. This man works over a beam and with a long, 
sharp, two-handled knife takes off the loose flesh which 
still adheres to the inner side of the pelt. The work is 
paid by the piece, and an unskilful workman can spoil a 
good number of skins. Apprenticeship usually begins at 


about the age of eighteen and lasts for three years. The 
lad is bound directly to one of the fleshers, and is paid at a 
lower piece-rate. Half the difference between this and the 
normal rate goes to the man in return for his trouble, and 
the other half to the employer to compensate for spoilt pelts. 
Among the watermen, also, many boys are bound to their 
own fathers. Otherwise, the method only survives in 
individual cases, in which a firm allows a man to make 
arrangements for putting his boy under another. 

Thus, to sum up the present position of Regular Service, 
we find that it varies from one industry to another, and 
takes a variety of forms. First, there is the universal 
enforcement or marked prevalence of Formal Apprentice- 
ship, which is only found in the Printing Group and a few 
small trades. Secondly, some less formal type of Regular 
Service predominates without being universal notably 
in Engineering and the allied crafts, in Optical and Scientific 
Instrument Making, and in the Art and Precious Metal 
Trades, though in all of them there is some survival of In- 
dentured Apprenticeship. Hence, in one form or another, 
Service is the normal method of training in no inconsider- 
able portion of the Industries of London. 

Thirdly, it is sometimes found to be predominant in 
certain parts but not in the whole of a trade. Thus, as in 
Bookbinding and Bootmaking, the machine processes 
are done by semi-skilled operators, but Service holds its 
own among the skilled handworkers. Again, as in Cabinet 
Making, it retains among the firms doing the higher class 
work the position that it has lost in the wholesale trade, 
and the division is largely a local one between East and 
West London. Finally, the presence both of Apprentice- 
ship and Regular Service is found elsewhere in a small 
number of firms, sometimes, but not always, as the 
result of accidental circumstances. 

The conclusion to be drawn, therefore, is that, in the 
wider sense of a regular system of teaching for a definite 
term, neither Service nor even Formal Apprenticeship 
can fairly be described as moribund. Modifications of 


old practices are required, and greater flexibility is 
needed, with perhaps a variety of methods to suit the 
necessities of different trades. But in some at least the 
older conditions might well be extended or restored, and 
sometimes regret is expressed that Apprenticeship does not 
replace the less formal arrangements that prevail. Under 
present conditions, however, the informal system is being 
generally preferred, and both employers and employed find 
advantages in it. This preference, however, is not the 
result of any vital objection to the formal system : and all 
experience goes to show that employers, if properly ap- 
proached, might be persuaded to reconsider the matter, 
and such reconsideration will be necessary if the less formal 
methods are not to take an even firmer hold than they 
have done already. 


Meaning of Migration Six Classes of Improvers The Out-of-Time 
Apprentice and the Turn-over Numbers increase with reduc- 
tion in period of Service The Short-Service Apprentice The 
Country-Trained Workmen Such Migration is really a com- 
pletion of Service. 

Migration as a Method is confined to the other types The 
Exploited Apprentice His later career The Casual Fringe 
of Improvers The Cause of this Their Ultimate Chances 
Presence among them of some abler boys -These influences 
bring about some Migration where Service is predominant. 

Systematic Migration Its Character Description of its 
working in the Cabinet Trade How a start is made Its 
Adoption sometimes deliberate, more frequently due to chance 
Its value to clever boys in poor circumstances Start in 
unskilled boy labour Migration usually exists in skilled trades, 
but not to the same extent in those requiring the highest skill 
Often accompanied by unfavourable industrial conditions 
Reasons for its frequency in the Building Trades. 

Influences specially favourable to it Subdivision of Output 
Cabinet Making Its Extent in it Often a Necessity 
Typical Cases Its amount here must not be exaggerated 
Much Regular Service still found Similar conditions in the 
rest of the Furniture Trades Its position in Upholstery. 

Grading Its Character In operation in the manufacture of 
Lighter Electrical Machinery Difficulty of absorbing all the 
Boys Other examples Machined Woodwork French Polish- 
ing Leather Goods Work. 

Existence of Migration where Service predominant Present- 
Day Conditions which favour its growth Summary of its 
present position. 

So much has had to be said in the last chapter about 
the position of Migration in certain trades, that a somewhat 
briefer treatment of the subject will be possible in the 
present one. In dealing with it, it is necessary to begin by 
distinguishing between the different classes of Improvers. 
For the Method of Migration, so far as it is a method, is 



one of learning as an improver, but not all improvers will 
be learning by Migration. 

When we come to classify them, it is possible to distinguish 
some six chief varieties, namely : the Original Improver or 
Out-of-Time Apprentice, with whom Turn-Overs can be 
included, the Short Service Apprentice, the Country-Trained 
Workman completing his education, the Exploited Appren- 
tice, the Improver of the Casual Fringe, and the Migratory 
Improver proper. Of these the first three really use migra- 
tion to complete an education begun under Regular Service. 
Migration proper applies to the others. 

In its original sense the term Improver denoted a person 
who had already served an Apprenticeship, but had not 
become fully competent at his trade. It thus corresponded 
to the narrowest definition of a bound and indentured 
apprentice. Such persons are still found, and they have 
to work for a time for less than the ordinary rate of wages 
until they become thoroughly efficient. Sometimes their 
position is fully recognized, and a few Trade Unions make 
provision for it, and even fix a limit of time within which 
full wages shall be paid. More frequently, indeed, such 
arrangements are left for employer and employed to agree 
upon between themselves. In Printing, however, an 
apprentice must obtain his full money on coming out of 
his time, but in this there is a period of seven years' service, 
and subsequent Migration has not been rendered so neces- 
sary by developments of machinery, as it has been else- 
where. The plasterers again insist, not always successfully, 
on the payment of full money at twenty-one. But in other 
trades improvers of this class are not uncommon ; and 
sometimes there is a sort of tacitly accepted idea of the 
rate an apprentice ought to get on coming out of his time. 
For instance, in one case in the Building Trades, I was told 
that in the last year of his time he would receive i or 215. 
per week, and that at its conclusion his money would be 
raised at once to Sd. per hour, and that he would get the 
full rate in about two years. 1 

1 Since this was written advances have been obtained by most 
sections of this industry in London. 


Various causes keep up the numbers of these improvers. 
The length of an ordinary Apprenticeship is being reduced, 
and five years has outside the Printing Trades become 
the normal period. Often this is due to the impossibility 
of learning the whole of a trade in a single shop, a thing 
which in other cases has led to Short-Period Apprentice- 
ships or to Migration pure and simple. Further, some 
foremen hold that five or even seven years are insufficient 
to learn one throughout, and that at the close of them, even 
if his knowledge is complete, a man lacks experience and 
adaptability, and thus a short term of Migration at some- 
thing below the full rate will be to his advantage. Finally, 
the attitude of bound apprentices may sometimes lead 
to similar results. Employers and foremen both complain 
that they presume on their secure position and only really 
apply themselves to their work in their last year or two. 
Hence they have still a good deal left to learn when they 
come out of their time. 

To these must be added another class. When a firm 
goes bankrupt or retires from business, some of its boys 
may still have part of their indenture to serve. Normally, 
they would be transferred to another employer and bound 
to him for the remainder of their time. They would then 
be known as Turn-Overs or Turn-over Apprentices. Some- 
times, however, a man may neglect, or not be able, to make 
such arrangements, and the only way in which the appren- 
tice can complete his education is by getting a job as an 
improver ; or his employer may prefer to provide for him 
in this way rather than by a formal turning over. On 
the other hand, some firms who do not ordinarily employ 
improvers will take on those who are really Turn- overs, 
in order to give them a chance of finishing their education, 
since this is often the only way for them to do it. 

The Short Service Improver has already been dealt with, 
and reasons have been given for supposing that he will 
grow in numbers, as this device replaces both the longer 
formal Service and the more casual Migration. Short 
Service really represents a combination of the two, and under 


favourable conditions obtains the advantages of both. 
It aims at giving a general groundwork in a trade, and turn- 
ing out the learner at the end of his time as a " good im- 
prover," fit to make his way up for himself. It seems also 
the best calculated of any existing system to meet all the 
difficulties of the present industrial situation, and everything 
seems favourable to its development. Moreover, the dis- 
tinction made by some firms between the improver who 
has had a regular job of three years or more, and the one 
who has not, points in the same direction, since some who 
normally adopt a full period of Service will refuse to take the 
latter, but, if they have a vacancy, will find a place for the 
former. In any case the development of the Short-Service 
system in a trade will of necessity increase the number of 
i nprovers in it. 

Thirdly, there are the country-trained apprentices or 
workmen, who are so numerous in some industries. They 
come mainly from country districts, the country towns 
and the smaller boroughs, and have usually served their 
time in a shop of small or moderate size possessing little 
machinery. Now under these conditions a more thorough 
all-round training can be given than that which is often 
obtainable in London. The countryman, indeed, has 
still to master the finer work, the greater speed of working, 
and the special conditions of machine production, which 
are frequently characteristic of it ; but often, though by 
no means always, he makes in the end the best tradesman. 
To do this, however, he must first spend a few years as 
an improver in the " finishing school " of London Industry. 1 

Now all the improvers hitherto considered have this 
in common, that the training they are receiving is simply 
supplementing and finishing off that which they have pre- 
viously obtained under Regular Service. The two, in fact, 
are not competitive but complementary. In the case 

1 " As already indicated, in many branches of the [Building] 
Trade London is an excellent finishing school, but a bad training 
ground." Booth, Life and Labour of the People in London, vol. v., 
p. 100. 


of Short Service, indeed, this is the result of a more or 
less definite arrangement. What has to be remarked, 
therefore, is that each of these classes accounts for a 
considerable number of improvers, and that this number 
is tending to expand. Thus, even in trades where Regular 
Service is markedly predominant, their existence can be 
noted ; but strictly speaking, they are not learning by 
Migration, but are merely completing a training given 
hitherto under the other system. 

As a method of training proper, therefore, Migration is con- 
fined to those who acquire their trades " wholly or mainly " 
by means of it. It is thus limited to the remaining types ; 
and in two of them, that of the exploited apprentice and 
of the casual fringe, it is largely the result of mischance 
or misconduct. Nevertheless, they account for a good 
proportion of those who learn in this way. To suppose, 
however, that the deliberate exploitation of boys, whether 
by their employers, their parents, or themselves, is at all 
general, is in my opinion both inaccurate and unfair. Cases 
of it are more numerous than they should be, but, existing 
conditions being what they are, it is rather surprising that 
they are not even more common. Far more frequently 
the trouble results from ignorance, lack of information or 
mistaken ideas, from lack of means on the part of the 
parents, or from the demand made on the employer to pay 
the full value of a boy's labour. Where, however, exploita- 
tion does exist in any form, full training can only be obtained 
or completed by means of Migration. 

Where the fault lies primarily in the employer, a dis- 
tinction must be made between those who do not teach and 
those who cannot. At the worst, five or six boys are taken 
and bound, if possible with a premium, few, if any, men being 
employed. They are then kept either at mere labouring 
or have the work so parcelled out among them, that each 
does only one or two processes and soon comes to do them 
well and rapidly. Being confined to them, however, they 
come out of their time knowing very little more than when 
they began it. Such firms usually prefer an indenture as an 


excuse for offering lower wages and for the power it gives 
of keeping boys bound to them for a number of years. 
Even so, indeed, the bolder of these will run away from 
their service, in the confidence that their master will not 
care to face publicity. Happily also such extreme cases 
are rare, and they naturally attract an amount of attention 
quite out of proportion to their numbers. More frequently 
there is a partial failure to teach, and the training given 
is more or less defective. The boys are taken for what can 
be made out of them, and left to fend for themselves. 
Thus Technical Instructors have known them in such cases 
to " burst into tears " because they are nearly out of their 
time, and do not know many essential things, and have 
small chance of learning them where they are. 

Similarly with employers who cannot teach, there are 
extreme instances, as already described, in which the man 
is a " duffer " who makes trash, and very little of that, 
and ought not to be allowed to have an apprentice at all. 
Others do more, till we get the shop which teaches a good 
part of a trade quite fairly well, and gives its boys reasonable 
chances of becoming in time fully competent workmen, 
though it leaves them a great deal still to learn after they 
leave it. 

It follows, therefore, that members of this class vary in 
character, position and opportunity of rising. Those who 
come out of their time practically untaught, have very 
small prospect of becoming tradesmen. At twenty or 
twenty-one they still have almost everything to learn ; 
and the mere fact that they have submitted for so long 
suggests that they lack the necessary " grit " to overcome 
difficulties and face ordinary competition. With others 
the chance is much more promising. Those who have been 
partially taught will, indeed, have to wait for some time 
longer than they ought to do before they get the full journey- 
man's wage, but there is no reason why they should not 
get it in time. Their chief danger is that they will not grasp 
their need for improvement but be content to remain 
as they are. It is, however, those who most quickly realize 


their position, and leave their indentures to get new situa- 
tions, that are most likely to do well : for by so doing they 
have already shown the pluck, energy and insight that 
lead to success. Anyhow, if either type of boy is to 
make himself thoroughly master of his trade, he will have 
to do so by means of Migration, and he will have so much 
to learn, that he can fairly be described as having acquired 
it mainly, if not wholly, in this way. 

The improvers of the casual fringe are usually boys who 
for some reason or other cannot or will not stick to a job. 
Such are to be found in almost every trade, however regular 
its methods may otherwise be, with the exception of a 
few whose organization is very strict indeed. They include 
those who, because of defects of character or ability, are 
always being compulsorily moved on, or who are otherwise 
competent but too restless or quarrelsome to retain their 
positions and so throw them up for trivial reasons before 
they have had time to learn much. Even so some of them 
do manage to acquire a partial or, more rarely, a complete 
knowledge, but others move continually from trade to 
trade, and end by becoming men " who can do anything " 
but not any one thing. 

Complaints of the " big shilling " are also frequent, and 
some youths can always be enticed away from a place by 
the offer of rather higher money elsewhere. It may even 
result in their leaving skilled work for an unskilled job. 
More frequently they stick to the same trade, but go to one 
firm after another. In this case the habit is more common 
when business is brisk than when it is slack. Thus in the 
Building Trades youths who could get good wages in the 
boom years between 1896 and 1900, afterwards found that 
their defective training placed them at a serious disadvan- 
tage. But there is always some movement of this kind 
going on, quite independently of these fluctuations. 

Undoubtedly many such boys fail eventually to become 
competent workmen. Those of the last class are most 
likely to succeed, since some of them do keep their eye on 
their chances of learning as well as on the money to be 


earned ; and at times some of the others pull themselves 
together. But more often than not the position is irretriev- 
able. Some become very expert at one part of the work 
and earn good money whilst working, but get very irregular 
employment. Others, again, may get steady employment 
at wages somewhat above those of a labourer but below 
those of an artisan. Others fare even worse. 

The causes of the trouble are various. Carelessness and 
lack of supervision are responsible for much ; unemployment 
in adolescence is even more fatal than in manhood ; and 
the selection of an unsuitable trade will lead to much harm, 
especially in a disposition naturally restless or lazy, but 
capable of steady application to a congenial task. The 
matter is largely one for organization to dovetail jobs, 
to put the round peg in the round hole and, where necessary, 
to keep the boy steadily occupied in the more beneficial 
forms of unskilled work. Usually prevention is the only 
cure, and habits of restlessness once acquired can rarely be 
eradicated or a record of dismissal and incompetence lived 

An altogether different type of improver, though re- 
sembling these last in belonging to the casual fringe, is the 
youth who takes advantage of such opportunities as occur, 
and advances himself by his own efforts from an unskilled 
boy labourer to the position of a mechanic. In some indus- 
tries in which Regular Service is predominant, there are 
jobs, especially in small repairing shops, which provide a sort 
of half-chance of learning for those who have grit enough 
to take it. Usually a boy starts by obtaining some kind 
of unskilled work in connection with the trade, and picks 
up in this way enough knowledge of it to enable him to 
better himself. Then when his actual position, which 
after all is a boy's job and only worth a boy's wage, no 
longer provides for him, he has to go, but by this time he 
knows enough to get a better position elsewhere as an 
improver. The following is a case in point : 

A lad, after a short time as Telegraph Messenger and 


two years as Railway Page Boy, got a job in a small engin- 
eers' shop containing two men, attached to a large under- 
clothing factory. He got it quite accidentally in answer 
to an advertisement. Starting as a porter, he came later 
to clean the motors by which the machinery was driven, 
and to help the men in the engineer's shop. He had, how- 
ever, to do all sorts of other work ; but when the two 
mechanics had a lot on hand he assisted them, and the 
one in whose charge he was helped him to get on. He went 
to a Technical Institute to learn smithing and took up 
turning there, and when I saw him was looking out for a 
job, if possible as a turner's improver, or, failing that, as 
hammerman, with a view to becoming in time an improver 
to smithing. 

Such openings would be useless to many, and it is only a 
very few who have the ability to turn them to account as 
stepping-stones to better things. But one merit of the less 
formal Service is that it does more often leave an opening 
to the abler of such boys thus to " steal their trades." 
Cases of this kind are not, indeed, numerous, but they 
do provide for a few who might otherwise remain labourers 
all their lives. 

It is obvious, therefore, that even where some form of Regu- 
lar Service is predominant, there is still room for a certain 
amount of learning by Migration without counting those im- 
provers who are simply completing their education. The 
position is that Regular Service is accepted voluntarily and 
not under any compulsion by the bulk both of employers and 
employed, but there are shops of an inferior type and boys 
who lack steadiness or ballast who find employment in them 
as improvers ; and there are other occasional outlets for them. 
These, however, must not be confused with the kind of 
Migration that prevails where it is a definite method of 
learning and covers a large portion of a trade. 

Systematic Migration of this kind is found where such 
a movement from firm to firm is so common a process as 
to form a readily available alternative means of entering 


a trade. There is no longer any Regular Service in the 
sense in which the term has been used, but the youth leaves 
one place and goes to another as circumstances or inclination 
dictate when he is sacked, for instance, or when he sees 
the chance of a rise in wages. Moreover, the employer comes 
to regard such improvers as integral parts of his establish- 
ment, and up to a point treats them like journeymen, taking 
them on and dismissing them according to the needs of his 
business. There thus often grows up a definite demand 
for them, and classes of work are set apart as specially 
" suited to improvers." Sometimes, indeed, the product gets 
graded according to the price paid for doing it, or the skill 
it requires. In speaking of Silversmithing, for instance, 
one young fellow said : " You don't have improvers, but 
each hand is paid a different amount according to what 
he is worth." Where such conditions are found the 
amount of Migration is usually large. 

A description of the method as it prevails in the trade 
that is most typical of it, namely, the East London Cabinet 
Trade, may be quoted here in the words of a small Master 
Cabinet Maker. 

A " little boy " of fourteen comes into a shop at 6s. a week to 
run errands. He does not do the work or possess any tools, but 
from watching the men at work he gets to know how it is done. 
His wages rise to about 95., the most he is worth as an errand 
boy, and when he asks for ios., he is refused and leaves. He 
gets another job for about ios. a week, saying he can do some 
simple thing, and on being sacked or leaving that place, gets 
another to do a harder piece of work at a higher wage. This he 
may not yet have done, but having seen others do it, he contrives 
to carry it out sufficiently well to keep the place. Thus he 
gradually makes his way, till he can earn full money, and if he is 
smart will have learnt to make not only a single article but a 
variety of them. 

A commencement can be made in a variety of ways. 
Some boys have fathers or relatives who own a small shop 
and take a turn at it first with them, and others, before 
they start, get a friend to give them a few hints or learn 
a little at a Trade School. Usually, however, a beginning 


is made by obtaining a job in some shop as odd boy, since 
this is likely to lead to a chance at the bench, which any 
foreman will give to those who are smart and capable. 
Often the lad's father or brother is at work there and so 
gets him the place. 

Sometimes boys will deliberately set themselves to learn 
by Migration because, among other reasons, Apprenticeship 
is falling into disfavour with them as well as with their 
employers. The comparatively low wages of the apprentice 
cause them to prefer to make their own way : and the best 
of them will, as a matter of fact, acquire their trade by 
Regular Service, probably of the fourth kind, namely 
" Working and Learning." Getting a job that suits them, 
they keep it. Their wages rise with their knowledge, and 
their services to their employer make it worth his while 
to pay them well. Hence it is not surprising that some 
of the smarter ones, choosing not only their trade but their 
mode of acquiring it, prefer Migration, or at least choose to 
take their chance of having to move. " Is it to be expected/' 
said one foreman, " that a smart chap will take lower wages 
and perhaps pay a premium, when by the help of the Techni- 
cal Schools he can learn just as well without ? " Similarly, 
those who have received two or three years' preliminary 
training in a Day Trade School are often capable of taking 
an improver's job at once, and working their way up from 
this. These last are found mostly in Building, Wood- 
working and Art Metal, and in Engineering they start 
usually as apprentices. 

Again, Migration, whether adopted deliberately or not, 
is of great value to clever boys whose families are in such 
poor circumstances that they have to earn the largest pos- 
sible amount as soon as they leave school. By its means 
they still keep open for themselves the possibility of entering 
skilled work, and Juvenile Labour Exchanges might do 
much to assist them to make a start in this way. Similarly, 
where learning is subordinated to wage earning, but not lost 
sight of, they may quite well become first-rate workmen, 
more particularly if they obtain adequate help and guidance. 


It not unfrequently happens, however, that boys start with 
the idea of learning a trade wholly in one place, but after- 
wards migrate to other firms. The more informal types 
of Regular Service especially leave many loopholes for this. 
Thus, if they feel that their job does not give them suffi- 
cient scope, or that they are not learning as much as they 
ought to do, 1 they move on and seek better teaching and finer 
qualities of work or greater variety elsewhere. Sometimes, 
indeed, this will be done with the co-operation of a sym- 
pathetic employer or foreman. It should be remembered, 
however, that when a good boy gets into a good shop, he 
is apt to stay there. Thus, whatever his original intention, 
he does not in fact migrate, and his Service becomes 

Nevertheless, whilst a good many definitely choose to 
utilize Migration, the great bulk of those who enter a trade 
in this way, do not do so deliberately, but more or less as 
the result of chance. Wherever the method is common, 
there are always plenty of openings at the bottom for 
unskilled boy labour, and, after working at them, lads 
find that they have a liking for the business, and that there 
is an opportunity of entering it. So some of them learn it, 
others learn only a part of it, and yet others simply move 
on after a time to another unskilled job. The " boy about 
the shop " is common everywhere, and special trades have 
special boys, like the glue-boys in joinery and cabinet making, 
whilst the small masters often give them a little of the actual 
work to do. An acquaintance of mine, for instance, is 
engaged in making what-nots, which he prepares and fits 
himself, whilst his wife does the polishing and the lads mind 
the glue, run the errands and do things like sand-papering. 
Now some of them have left him for a better job and 
eventually learnt Cabinet-Making as he in his time had 
done before them. There is the danger, indeed, that they 

1 Thus a Trade Instructor in Silversmithing said " Improvers in 
our trade consist either of the clever, able boy, who feels that his 
ability is not being given sufficient scope or of the boy who for in- 
competence or other reasons cannot keep any place long. 


may become makers of what-nots or of small tables or of 
a particular piece of furniture only and not cabinet makers. 
For the conditions prevailing here result among other things 
in the growth of much specialization on single articles ; and 
from lack of guidance many boys fail to make the best of 
their chances ; and of the openings which exist, some only 
will be utilized fully, others partially, and yet others not 
at all. 

The industries in which Migration is most common are 
usually skilled, but are not as a rule such as to require the 
very highest type of skill. Thus in Optical and Scientific 
Instrument Making, and in a great deal of Engineering, it 
is strongly discountenanced, and Regular Service is insisted 
upon, as is usually the case with the firms doing the finest 
work in the Furniture Trades. At the same time this 
tendency must not be exaggerated, and many first-rate 
workmen have learnt by Migration. Further, it is most 
prevalent where certain conditions exist which are in many 
ways unfavourable to sound training. Thus, the occupa- 
tions in which it is common generally show either a marked 
seasonal character or much casual employment, and indivi- 
dual firms experience ups and downs of activity quite apart 
from the general state of business. These influences, indeed, 
render it convenient for employers to be able to engage and 
dismiss boys and youths, just as they do adults, and so make 
it desirable from a business point of view. Many firms, 
however, are averse to dismissing a learner if it can be 

Two circumstances, however, peculiarly favour the 
growth of Migration, namely, the subdivision of production 
or output among different shops, and the " grading " of 
the work among different workers at varying rates of pay. 
Its prevalence, however, is not limited to cases where one 
or both of them is present. A notable exception is to be 
found in the Building Trades, in most of which it flourishes. 
For this there are a number of reasons, and more particu- 
larly the fact that in them, without so marked a subdivision 
as that just mentioned, it is still difficult to acquire the 


whole of a trade in a single firm. The bigger works often 
have a varied output, but there is frequently a division 
into men's, improvers' and boys' work. Again, an extensive 
use of machinery may remove from a lad's experience many 
of the rougher and simpler jobs which it is desirable he 
should learn, even if he may never be compelled to perform 
them as a man, since they help to give the best preliminary 
grounding. Now in the smaller shops he will get them, 
but in the bigger ones he will not ; and this, therefore, has 
to be set against the undoubted advantages of the latter. 
Indeed, he will sometimes go first to a small firm for a few 
years, and get to know what he can there and then remove 
into a larger one, thus naturally dividing his course of train- 
ing into two parts. In one branch, that of Plastering, 
the need for this is even greater, owing to the growing 
number of businesses which specialize either on solid or 
fibrous work. Finally, the growing dislike of Apprentice- 
ship among both employers and boys, and the desire of the 
latter to be free to move, has led to " much swopping of 
shops and foremen." For all these reasons, therefore, the 
method of Migration is common in the Building Trades, 
and they stand in many respects midway between the old 
conditions and those in which subdivision almost compels 
migration ; and in them its growth is much encouraged by 
the existing absence of system. 

Of the two great influences at work the operation of the first 
is most clearly seen in the Furniture Trades and especially 
in Cabinet Making. The latter covers a far wider area 
than its name would imply ; for it includes the making of 
most articles of furniture or of woodware about a house 
which " are of light character, and used for purposes of orna- 
ment, and are not fixtures in the building," 1 and in addition 
to them cabinet makers are employed in the manufacture 
of telephone stands and boxes, and of cameras, barometers 
and looking-glass frames. Now in this trade specialization 
of product or output is carried further than in almost any 

1 This definition was given to rne by the Head of the Wood-working 
Department of a well-known Trade School. 


other. Some of it is found in certain large firms in which 
there is also specialization of processes, and far more in 
the small hand shops which abound in East London. Now 
the cabinet maker's products vary very much in style and 
character, and where they are easy to make and of common 
quality, an improver will often be as useful as a journeyman. 
Thus, in the windows of a Labour Exchange one may see 
advertisements for " a cabinet maker or good improver," 
or " a cabinet maker for cheap barometer frames to joint- 
up improver will do." 

This, in short, is work specially " suited to improvers/' 
and it will vary from what a boy who is just beginning to 
learn can do to such as will fully test the capacity of a young 
man who has mastered a large part of the business. More- 
over, the conditions as to employment are markedly variable 
in every way, and many small firms cannot give regular 
employment to their boys, who will for this reason alone 
be compelled to move about ; and thus Migration under 
present conditions becomes practically a necessity. The 
most marked case of seasonal fluctuation, however, is to 
be found not in Cabinet Making, but in the Pianoforte 
Trade, and here, too, movement from firm to firm is common. 

A few typical cases of the working of the method may 
perhaps be of interest. The first is that of a foreman 
a comparatively young man in the cabinet shop of a firm 
of Makers and Importers. He began life as an odd boy 
about the shop, and when not otherwise engaged was given 
sand-papering or, later on, a little simple manual work. 
Thus, he gradually improved his wages and got hold of a 
few tools, and failing to get a further rise, left the firm he 
was with, and found another place where he got rather 
more money and learnt a little more. This process he 
repeated, and after about five years knew enough to be 
put on piece-work like a journeyman. From this he con- 
tinued to improve himself, and in all worked in about 
eight places to master the trade, staying usually nine months 
or a year in each. He declared this method to be one by 
which a smart boy could always learn and learn well. It 


would be the master's interest to bring him on as rapidly 
as possible, in order to get the best return for his wages, 
whilst, if dissatisfied, a lad is free to leave and go elsewhere. 

Another instance was that of the son of a cabinet-maker, 1 
who always had a liking for this trade. His father did not 
wish him to enter it, but he persisted, in spite of opposition. 
First, however, he spent six months in a surveyor's office at 
6s. a week. Not caring for sedentary work, he went on 
trial for a month as a compositor's apprentice, but did not 
like that either. He then got a job as a cabinet-maker's 
boy and after two months was put to the bench. His wages 
to start with were 55. and had risen to 75., when a question 
of a lost tool cost him his place. He next had two jobs, 
each of six months' duration, as an improver on very cheap 
work first at 115. a week, and then at 135. In both cases 
the firm went bankrupt. After this he worked piece-work 
alongside of his father and further improved himself, his earn- 
ings increasing from 155. to i, and since then he has been 
employed for two years by another firm, his wages rising 
during this time from $d. to 6%d. an hour. Here he some- 
times had to work short time, but had never lost more 
than a day or two between each job. When I saw him he 
was contemplating another move and expected to get full 
money after another two or three years. He did not regret 
his choice of a trade. 

Another learner spent a year after leaving the Elementary 
School doing odd jobs in various shops, and for six months 
more was errand boy to a Clock Repairer, who taught him 
a little. A brother who had a small cabinet-making business 
then started him in the same capacity at 55. a week, and 
after five years he was getting I2S. 6d. as an improver. He 
was under some sort of agreement to learn the trade, but 
was dismissed for slackness. In less than a week, however, 
he got another place and after nearly two years was earning 

1 This and the three following cases are the industrial histories of 
students at one of the Maintained Institutions of the London County 
Council, who, by the kind permission of the Principal and the 
Instructors concerned, I was enabled to interview. 


255. a week piece-work and expected to take some years 
more to get the full rate. His slow progress was attributed 
by his instructor to the fact that he was probably mistaken 
in his choice of a trade. 

A third student had begun with two years at a Day Trade 
School and started at about seventeen years of age at los. 
a week for a Bermondsey firm, being put off for slackness 
after three months. His next job where he earned 4^. an 
hour lasted the same time, when he left to go to the firm 
where his father worked. He stayed there for two years 
(his wages rising from 4^. to $d. per hour), and when I saw 
him had just started for another firm at 6d. per hour. In 
all he had had about seven weeks unemployment during 
this time. 

One more case may be given, that of the son of a Fore- 
man Decorator, who was himself an Instructor in a Techni- 
cal School. In his case manual training at an Elementary 
School brought out a liking for wood- working, and though 
he began as a clerk, he continued his woodwork during the 
eighteen months that this lasted. His first job at the trade 
brought him in 155. a week at the start and, when, after 
eighteen months, the firm was wound up, he was getting 
4%d. an hour. After three weeks " out " he got a further 
job for another seventeen months, and at the end of this 
time was getting 6d. per hour. That firm also closed down, 
but after a few days he got another situation, and when I 
saw him he had been working there for two years and was 
getting full journeyman's money (io^d. per hour). During 
the time in which he was learning he had been unemployed 
altogether for about two months only. 

Such, on the whole, probably represent fairly the condi- 
tions under which the better class of improver acquires his 
trade ; but those who attend Technical Schools are above 
the average in ability, in opportunity and, above all, in 
success. Even for them; however, the normal alternative 
is either constant movement or slow progress ; and with 
others, the change of situation is likely to be more frequent, 
unemployment longer in duration, and progress slower and 


more doubtful, the more so as the high immediate wages 
paid to improvers often compel the employer to keep 
them on the kinds of work which they can do well. 

Even in the Cabinet Trade, however, the prevalence of 
Migration must not be over-estimated, common though it 
is in East London and in the wholesale trade generally. Most 
of the higher-class firms, still retain some form of Regular 
Service, usually without a binding agreement, and even in 
East London there is a certain amount of it, including some 
Indentured Apprenticeship. Again, some small firms take 
apprentices in return for a small premium, and some, both 
large and small, without one. Moreover, the Jewish Board 
of Guardians are active in binding their boys to this trade, 
and the local Skilled Employment Associations are able to 
place a certain number in it. 

Similar conditions prevail in other branches of the Furni- 
ture Trades, though in some of them Migration is not nearly 
so frequent. In Upholstery, for instance, the proportion 
of workers engaged on better class work is larger, and, being 
entirely handwork, it is so far better served by Regular 
Service or even Formal Apprenticeship, and machinery 
does not exercise as great an influence as it does in Cabinet- 
Making. Indeed, Bound Apprenticeship is sometimes con- 
tinued among Upholsterers by employers who have other- 
wise abandoned it. Still, there is some subdivision of pro- 
duct between good and cheap, and between large and small, 
work, and some firms confine themselves to a single line of 
goods. These tendencies are not carried so far as they are 
elsewhere, but they are sufficiently developed to cause 
appreciable use to be made of the method of Migration, 
though even in the wholesale trade, it is neither so frequent 
nor so necessary as in Cabinet-Making. 

The histories of a class of boys and young men bear out 
this contention. 1 Their mode of becoming Upholsterers 
had been as follows : 

1 In these the comparative frequency with which a lad starts as 
an errand boy and works his way up is worth noting. 


I. Premiumed Apprentice for five years by Skilled 

Employment Association. 

II. Started with his father and had been in two jobs in 
five years. 

III. Apprenticed without a premium. 

IV. Started on an errand boy's job, picked up a bit in 

three years and was then apprenticed elsewhere 
for a further three. 

V. Had served a five years' Apprenticeship with a 
West London firm and was working as an 

VI. Said he was apprenticed for two years (!). 
VII. Started learning as an errand boy and was intend- 
ing to make a move. 
VIII. Worked his way up in a single firm after starting 

as an errand boy. 
IX. Started as an errand boy and became an unbound 

X and XI. Apprentices indentured with a premium by 

the Jewish Board of Guardians. 

XII. Apprenticed in Reading, from which place he came 
to London. 

XIII. Going to be apprenticed shortly. 

XIV. Son of a Moulding Manufacturer and going into this 

but studying Upholstery as well. 

Thus of these not more than three could fairly be de- 
scribed as learning by Migration. The presence of others 
apprenticed by institutions like the Jewish Guardians and 
of one or two from West-End firms has to be allowed for, but 
even so the number, whose Service was actually regular, is 
significant. At the same time, there is undeniable evidence 
of the existence of Migration ; and this is likely to be far 
more common in those branches of the business which are 
not so well represented among the students. It is the 
better-class boys who attend a Trade School, and they come, 
on the whole, from the better-class firms, and so their 
employment is more than usually regular. 


Hence over the trade as a whole, the demand for the 
migratory improver is far greater than would appear from 
the instances just described. The Labour Exchanges may 
be quoted as showing this in their demand both for actual 
improvers and for boys " able to do " this or " used to 
doing " that, who are such, in fact, if not in name. In the 
roughest kinds of work, the stuff is simply knocked together, 
and there is sometimes little to teach, but some of the 
boys do learn enough to make them ambitious to learn 
more ; and the prevalence of casual employment and an 
irregular demand makes it necessary for some of them to be 
taken on and dismissed according to the state of trade. 
Indeed, two years at a Day Trade School previous to work 
in the shop is suggested partly to meet these circumstances, 
and partly in order that the boy, instead of running wild, 
may start at their close with some little knowledge of the 
business and a clear idea of what he wants. Moreover, in a 
trade like this, those who begin with the idea of Migration 
may very well find that the shop they are in can give them 
nearly all that they require, just as sometimes, where Regular 
Service prevails, circumstances may induce them to move 

The second great underlying cause of Migration is found 
in the " grading " of work within a single firm. Here it is 
not necessary that, as in the first case, the output of each 
business should be concentrated upon a few articles, though 
this may sometimes be the case. Nor is there that com- 
plete specialization on to single machines, which produces a 
class of semi-skilled workmen. What happens rather is 
that the production of a firm is divided up into a number of 
parts and graded according to the skill required in each of 
them. Much of the work, therefore, does not need fully 
trained hands : and so is carried out by a number of boys or 
youths in various stages of development, who are paid 
according to their value. This is likely to happen where a 
great variety of machines of different degrees of complexity 
are in use, though that is not a necessary condition of it. In 
any case, there is a great deal of work " suited to improvers/' 


and they are given ample opportunity of working their 
way up. 

It has already been pointed out that the prodominance 
of Regular Service in Engineering does not extend to those 
concerns in which the scale of production or the character of 
the work render some form of subdivision feasible, especially 
those few which are engaged in new construction upon a 
large scale. In heavy engineering, this has led to the em- 
ployment of a number of semi-skilled machine-men, but some 
of the younger and more ambitious of them contrive to 
learn the trade by migrating as improvers. Of them an 
employer said that " there are a good many in the trade, 
coming mostly from large firms where work is very much 

It is in lighter engineering work, however, that the method 
of " grading " is found, and it is by no means confined to the 
larger firms. In the electrical branch both trade fluctua- 
tions and the irregularity of orders are marked, whilst the 
work lends itself to this practice. There are varying degrees 
of difficulty in it, and so there is a tendency to have a worker 
for each : and a number of grades of gradually increasing 
skill have thus grown up between the boy and the man. 
As one employer put it, " our work is such that we get certain 
classes of it in which we only want a hand earning so much 
an hour and so we get an improver " ; and as these vary in 
skill, a young fellow has the chance of improving his position 
bit by bit and of progressing from one to the other. Often, 
and perhaps usually, he will be paid his full value, and so 
must depend upon himself for what he learns. 

The ordinary process of learning is more or less as follows. 
A lad, sometimes at fourteen, sometimes later, starts on a 
machine at the current rate of wage, beginning usually on a 
punch-press, and being raised as he wants more money to a 
drilling machine. For two or three years his work requires 
little skill, but he gets to know his way about the shop. 
Next he will be promoted to the position of an improver at 
about 3^d. per hour and start on some more elaborate 
job. The employer just quoted stated that some of his 



boys stayed on with him, especially if they were promoted 
to the fitter's bench, and that others left to take improvers' 
jobs elsewhere, whilst they themselves took them in 
from outside as they required them. Regular Service is thus 
replaced by a gradation of employment, which springs 
naturally out of the conditions of production and wage- 
payment. Possibly the difference in the actual teaching 
given is not great, except for the liability to a constant 
change of firm. 

Here, indeed, the most difficult problem is perhaps that of 
absorption. A good proportion of the lads can and do 
make their way into the trade : but the lighter electrical 
work probably takes more boys or youths than it can itself 
find room for as men. Further, there are some processes 
in it which are little more than a superior kind of Blind 
Alley, in which the lightness and easiness of the work limits 
the highest wage obtainable to that of an improver or at 
best of a low-skilled adult. At the same time, some of 
them, as, for instance, the making of certain parts, tools and 
accessories, give knowledge and information enough to pro- 
vide a start in learning which could be continued else where. 
Moreover, the number of learners in other parts of the trade 
is sometimes less than it requires, so that some at least of 
the superabundant improvers in electrical work can find 
other positions to complete their education in, whilst its 
generally rapid expansion enables it to absorb more young 
workers than most other industries can. 

There are further examples of gradation in two important 
branches of wood- working, those of sawyers and wood-work- 
ing machinists and of French polishers, both of which have 
their services utilized in a number of trades. With the 
former, the level of skill is more varied than among the 
joiners and cabinet-makers who use their products. Partly 
owing to the danger involved and partly to the intricacy of 
much of the machinery, the best workers earn more than 
the men in these two crafts, but in other cases both the 
skill and the pay are much lower. 

As regards the training required, indeed, the trade falls 


roughly into two parts. A large number of mills confine 
themselves to the sawing of timber into lengths and widths, 
sometimes, but not always, rough planing it as well. In them, 
though there may be one or two planing machines, nearly all 
the work is done at the saw-bench. This is worked by a 
man, assisted by a boy to " pull out " and remove the wood 
after it has been cut. Here the man's job is little more than 
semi-skilled, and so far as the boys are concerned, the work 
is a Partial Blind Alley. The smarter of them are promoted 
to fill vacancies among the sawyers, but only comparatively 
few can be provided for in this way. 

Where, however, the wood is worked as well as sawn, a 
considerable variety of machines is used, and far greater 
skill is needed. There is some specialization on particular 
machines, and their number and the different degrees of skill 
involved in working them form a gradation of employments 
for the learner who can take advantage of it. Bound 
apprentices are rare. Like the sawmills, pure and simple, 
these factories require boys to do various kinds of labouring 
work, but the numbers required by them are nothing like so 
much in excess of what they can find room for. Hence those 
who have their wits about them learn enough to get on to a 
simple machine, either in their own or another factory ; and 
this trade, like some others, demands boys who "understand " 
or are " used to " one or another of them. With the large 
Builders and Contractors, for instance, where very few boys 
are taken, they are usually promoted from the gluepot 
and put into the machine room if they show capacity. In 
this case, indeed, they are put right through the trade and 
employed regularly till they have mastered it. Otherwise 
migration is common and is favoured by the fact that youths 
of different ages are required for different machines. The 
present lack of organization and guidance for the boys is, 
however, responsible for many failures, and probably far 
more enter the trade than succeed in acquiring it. 

The work of the polisher covers an even wider area. Under 
this head the French (wood) polisher and the metal polisher 
may both be included, as the same conditions of teaching 


apply in both, though the latter's work is rather more skilled 
and its conditions more regular. French polishing in parti- 
cular is often described as being done by women and girls 
only, or by unskilled boy labour ; but this is an exaggera- 
tion. Undoubtedly much of the latter is employed on the 
less skilled jobs, but it is also on these that women and 
girls are being introduced, with the result that on the 
average the skill of the men who work at the business 
has rather increased than diminished. For the same reason 
the amount of Blind Alley work has been reduced, so that 
the excess of young boys entering it is not so great as it was. 
Thus to the bulk of them polishing offers a definite opening 
and demands from them a fair or even sometimes a high 
level of skill. Its irregular character and the prevalence of 
casual employment are, however, against it. 

Here the gradation is unusually well marked. At each stage 
which a lad reaches, there is a demand for boys to do just 
that kind of work, and so there is also when he has improved 
himself a little more. First, there is a " boy for polishers' 
shop " (i.e., to run errands and do odd jobs), then " boy to 
help polishers," " boy who knows a little polishing," " boy 
who understands polishing," and so on till the " polisher's 
improver " is reached and finally the improver who " will 
do " in lieu of a polisher. Each job is a little better than 
the one that is left, a little worse than the one next taken. 
Actual Apprenticeship is rare and except in the larger 
firms Regular Service is not common ; but, given proper 
organization, the existence of such a sequence would be some 
compensation for their absence. 

In the making of leather goods, again, this method is 
often found. In the manufacture of boots and shoes, in- 
deed, the work as a rule is either semi-skilled or as in the 
Bespoke Trade so highly skilled as to require Regular 
Service, whilst in saddlery and harness-making such boys 
as are taken are usually bound apprentices. But in the 
making of portmanteaux, trunks and bags, and of such 
smaller articles as purses, pocket-books, and attache cases, 
it is common, though there is also some Apprenticeship and 


Regular Service. There is, as usual, the start as an errand 
boy, the learning to make a particular part and the demand 
for boys who can make " straps " and " handles " and so on, 
then for the improver, and finally for the one who " will do " 
instead of a man. To describe the method in full would 
only be repetition. 

This concludes the consideration of those trades in which 
Migration is most prevalent, but in a number of others it 
still exists as a distinct and competing process side by side 
with the dominant one of Regular Service. In Silversmith- 
ing, indeed, the amount of it is considerable owing to the 
existence both of subdivision and grading, and to the infre- 
quency of indentures and even of the more binding kind 
of verbal agreement. In Bookbinding there is a class of 
business which lies midway between the semi-skilled machine 
production and the very highly-skilled-hand-binding, namely 
general jobbing work and vellum-binding. It is what one 
might call " five-year " work, that is skilled work in which 
the normal period of Apprenticeship would be five years, 
but where there is also some migration. A similar state of 
affairs is found in some of the metal trades, notably in 

For the presence of conditions which particularly favour 
it is not necessary to the existence of Migration. Some- 
times, indeed, they render its frequent use probable or even 
inevitable ; but it can exist in their absence and, as in the 
case of House Building, can even play a very important 
part, when such special circumstances are found only in a 
modified form. Moreover, general industrial conditions 
favour its presence to some extent in almost every trade. 
The rigidly binding agreement is falling into disfavour and is 
being replaced largely by informal Regular Service. The 
latter leaves necessarily more loopholes for Migration than 
does the former, and so in various ways it has come to take 
a distinct place in such employments as mechanical engin- 
eering and art metal work. The thing can be done, and if 
the boy gets discontented or the firm's business slack, he 
moves, or is moved, on. Moreover, there are circum- 


stances in which after a time his interests will really lie in 
going further afield, and some will enter a trade with the 
deliberate purpose of doing so. 

Thus the area covered by this method is a wide one, and 
from various sources it gets a considerable proportion of boys 
to adopt it. For not only is it found where circumstances 
render it more or less necessary, but it is utilized by many lads 
who through their own or others' faults have failed to master 
their trade entirely by Service and have to learn it, or com- 
plete the' learning of it, in this way. Except for plumb- 
ing and gas-fitting, in which Following-up prevails, it plays 
a big part in all the Building Trades. With a few excep- 
tions, notably Upholstery, it is in even more frequent use in 
the wood- working and furniture group, 1 and in sawmills 
and French Polishing it appears to be predominant. Other 
instances of its importance are to be found in parts of the 
engineering industry, and in the making of leather goods. 
Finally, it is found in existence to a smaller extent even 
where Regular Service prevails, notably in silversmithing, 
ironfounding and jobbing bookbinding. Like the latter, 
in short, it is frequently important, and present almost 
everywhere. It is^further, a method that is growing in 

1 The following return of the proportions of boys employed in 
various ways in London and injjthe whole of the United Kingdom 
in the returns published in the Report into Earnings and Hours of 
Labour in the Building and Wood-working Trades in 1906 is inter- 
esting : 

All Working 



All Boys. 










Building . 
Sawmilling, etc. . 

























Conditions leading to the Method of Following-Up Brief Descrip- 
tion of it Apparent Overlapping with, and Real Difference 
from, Methods previously described Tendency of Following-Up 
to create a Partial Blind Alley Trades and Numbers of work- 
people affected Organization of Work in them. 

Plumbing The Start Work as a Mate His Duties Learn- 
ing about the Trade -Work as an Improver Illustrations 
Frequency of Formal Apprenticeship in Plumbing Comparison 
of Apprenticeship and Following-Up. 

Conditions produced by Following-Up in this trade -Tendency 
to a Partial Blind Alley only slight Mate's Work provides 
a permanent livelihood Danger of Overstocking the trade 
greater Probably a reality Opposition of some Plumbers to 
mates who attempt to rise Danger of producing ill-trained men 
Possibility that capable boys will remain mates all their lives. 

Following-Up among Smiths Heaviness of Work reduces 
number of boys -Apprenticeship less common Dangers of 
Method less marked than in Plumbing. 

Following-Up where men and boys work in squads Rivet- 
ting Method as working in Boiler-making The Heater and the 
Carrier Rivetters recruited from the latter Conditions of the 
work and training Other trades recruited in this way 
Training of the Platers. 

Extent of Migration during Learning Attempt of Unions 
to enforce five years' continuous service in a single firm 
Trade a Partial Blind Alley, possessing a dual character as such 
Tendency to a Reserve of Boy Labour Other Branches of 
Rivet ting. 

Following-Up in Smaller Trades Leather-Splitting : a 
marked Partial Blind Alley Attempts to provide for those 
displaced Wire-Rope Weaving Glass-Blowing Acquirement 
of Bricklaying by labourers Resemblance of this to Follow- 
ing-Up apparent rather than real. 

Summing-up, as to character of trades where Following-Up 
prevails and as to its dangers Illustration from it of the need 
for a properly regulated scheme of training. 



IN some trades the method of production requires that 
the skilled man shall have a helper or assistant definitely 
attached to him, and the tie between them is very close 
indeed, since the latter is put to serve a particular man and 
him only. In other cases a certain number of mechanics 
and assistants form a squad ; and frequently these men are en- 
gaged and dismissed at the same time. The plumber and his 
mate, the smith and his hammerman, look for jobs together, 
and a foreman would take on both if he took on either, as he 
would a squad of rivetters in Boilermaking, whilst a brick- 
layer and his labourer would usually be engaged as two 
separate individuals. Moreover the tie is a close one in 
another sense, namely, that the helper comes into such direct 
contact with the actual work that he can hardly fail to 
learn how it is all done, and can use this as a starting-point 
to get hold of the tools and so " follow-up " and acquire 
the trade. Many of the helpers are grown men, but a good 
proportion of them are youths, though not young boys, as 
the work is often too heavy for them. 

Thus there grows up a third distinct method of learning 
a trade. It may be designated " Folio wing-Up " or Learning 
following upon Labouring, and is roughly as follows. A boy 
or youth works with his man or squad for a number of years 
either as a labourer or helper. He is not there to learn. 
His business is to assist the man to do his own work. But 
in so doing, even if he does not actually handle the tools, 
he acquires and, if he has any capacity at all, can hardly 
help acquiring, a knowledge of their uses and of the pro- 
cesses and of the way in which they are carried out. 
Thus on the one hand he will probably get very little oppor- 
tunity of actually doing a man's work, and on the other will 
obtain a clear view of the trade from the inside. Eventually, 
however, he finds an opportunity to get a start for himself 
as an improver. Then in his further progress he may stay 
in the same shop or he may have to change over and over 
again before he is finished. A Master Plumber summed up 
the process epigrammatically as " Bad Mate, Good Mate, 
Bad Plumber, Good Plumber " : and in this and other cases 


where the method is found, even bound apprentices 
have to begin by serving the first few years of their time 
as mates to a Journeyman ; for in any case a period of mere 
assistance must nearly [always come before that of actual 
work with the tools. 

On the surface there may appear to be some overlap- 
ping between this and the two methods already described, 
and curiously enough Formal Apprenticeship is unusually 
common in one or two of these trades, more particularly 
in Plumbing. Apart from this, Following-Up begins with 
a long period of employment in a single firm, that is to 
say as a mate, and often after a start with the tools has 
been made, comes movement from firm to firm as an im- 
prover. Superficially, therefore, the process seems to be a 
combination of Service and Migration, varied by individual 
cases in which either the former is regular throughout or 
in which there is no period of continuous employment. 

The two things, however, are really very different. 
Even the improver who is teaching himself or the youth 
who is working and learning is not in the position of a 
labourer or assistant to another person, but is actually using 
the tools, and acquiring by doing the work a certain part of 
the business of the mechanic. He and the apprentice are 
learning not only how it is done, but how to do it themselves. 
But the mate who is following-up is primarily there to 
assist and serve another and he is kept to it. In this sense, 
in short, the apprentice or improver is clearly a learner 
from the very beginning, whilst in Following-up a period 
of service as a mate or helper precedes the actual learning. 
In it, therefore, both the service and the migration are of a 
different order ; and Following-up or Learning following 
upon Labouring rightly stands out as a method by itself. 
The vital fact is this, that the boy or youth is there to assist 
the man. By so doing he puts himself in a position to learn 
later on, but not till then does he actually do so. 

Under this method the number of boys or youths who are 
employed in a trade is apt to be greater than can find per- 
manent occupation in it. Usually the proportion varies 



from one assistant to one tradesman, up to two to three or 
occasionally one to three. Now even the latter, when' it is a 
minimum required for the purpose of a trade and not a 
maximum to which employers are limited, introduces into 
it an excess of boys, whilst the others would cause the excess 
to be considerable. Individual occupations, however, are 
able to reduce or get rid of the surplus. Thus plumbers' 
mates and smiths' hammermen have a definite occupation 
which can best be classed as semi-skilled work ; and many 
of them are grown men and only the residue youths attempt- 
ing to learn. Again in other cases jobs can be provided 
later on in other parts of the factory for some of the assist- 
ants. Hence the surplus is often small when it might 
reasonably be expected to be large ; but some of the trades 
which comprise this group are undeniably employing far 
more boys than they can permanently absorb. 

This method is nothing like so common as Service, or 
Migration. It is more or less confined to certain trades 
and is seldom found as a competing alternative outside of 
them. The number of workpeople affected is shown by 
the Census of 1901 to have been as follows : 

County of 

Outer ! 


Rest of 
and Wales 

Smiths and Strikers 
Plumbers and Mates . 
Gasfitters and Mates . 
Railway Engine Drivers, 
Stokers and Cleaners 










Total . . . . 





In addition to the above there are the boilermakers and 
the glass-blowers. A separate return for the former is not 
available for London in the Census figures of 1911. In 1901 
there were about 3,300 of them in the County of London and 

1 Partly estimated : Urban Districts only. 


about 5,600 in Greater London. Nor is a separate return 
given for the glass-blowers, but they form the great bulk 
of the London glass workers, of whom, according to the last 
Census, there were 3,299 in the County of London. For three 
smaller processes, those of tankmakers, leather splitters, and 
wire rope weavers, separate figures were not given in either 

The last three groups only employ a small number of 
workers, the tankmakers being estimated at from 250 to 
300 by Mr. Charles Booth in 1893, and probably do not 
much exceed that number now. The leather splitters likewise 
are probably not more than a few hundreds, and the wire-rope 
weavers are but a small portion of the 1,500 odd wire-workers 
shown to be employed in London. The means by which in 
Bakeries men rise from being Third Hands to be Second and 
eventually First Hands, and those by which bricklayers' 
labourers acquire bricklaying, bear some resemblance to 
" Folio wing-Up " ; but for reasons that will be given later 
they cannot rightly be classed with it. 

The actual organization of the work varies. Most fre- 
quently men act in pairs smiths and hammermen, 1 
plumbers and mates, leather splitters and assistants. 
In Boiler and Tank Making, however, and in any form of 
rivetting, squads of four or five are usual, composed of one 
or two rivetters, one holder-up, and two boys, or in some 
cases only one. Glass-Blowing is carried out by Chairs of 
four, of which the junior members are, or may be, boys, and 
in Wire-Rope Weaving the man manages the machine, with 
one or two of them as " watchers-out/' The different 
methods of working vary considerably, and for this 
reason a detailed description of them may be helpful. 

On the whole the operation of the system is seen most 
clearly in the case of the plumber, to which that of the gas- 
fitter bears considerable resemblance, except that the work 
of the latter requires that the mate shall himself sometimes 
use the tools. In both the mate is a semi-skilled man, so 

1 In the larger works there are often several hammermen to one 
fire, but this is not common in London. 


that a boy has to make himself reasonably competent as 
such before he can get taken on in the better firms. Again, 
the work is mostly heavy, and so in the bigger ones a start 
before sixteen or seventeen is unlikely. It can be made 
earlier, however, in some of the small jobbing shops where 
only lighter work is done and less skill and knowledge are 
required in the mate. These facts also account for the 
disfavour with which young apprentices are, not unnaturally, 
regarded by some of the plumbers. The man who has only 
an " apprentice boy " of fourteen, instead of a grown man, 
is very much more handicapped than one who has a youth 
of seventeen or eighteen, even though the latter may not 
be fully efficient. 

First of all, therefore, the boy or youth must acquire 
sufficient competence as a mate to enable him to get em- 
ployment as such in an ordinary firm. To do this he gets a 
relative or a friend to put him up to things a bit, or goes into a 
small shop as odd boy where he knocks about for a year or 
two and, from sweeping up, comes to help the men generally, 
and later, if the work is light and easy, to serve one of them. 
At sixteen or seventeen he goes, if he can, to a big firm and 
gets taken on as a mate. He will start there at from 3^. 
or 3%d. up to 4^. or 5^. an hour and will reach the full mate's 
wage (jd. per hour) after about two years. 

His work is now varied and requires both strength and 
intelligence. He has to hold the tools and pass each one 
as required in itself no light task owing to their number 
and variety. Certain of them, those used for wiping, for 
instance, he has to treat in the fire and keep at the right 
heat an important and difficult matter. When dents in 
the piping are being straightened he has to help draw the 
mandrils and bobbins through them, and to hold the pipes 
whilst they are being bent by the plumber. When brass is 
used he has to prepare it for receiving the solder, and when 
the piping is being fitted on the building, he has to carry 
it and hold it in position. 

In doing his work the ordinary mate will not have to use 
the tools at all, but he does require a certain amount of 


skill. In its course, moreover, he can hardly help getting an 
intimate knowledge of the tools and their uses and of how 
it is all being done, besides carrying out certain preliminary 
processes. Short of actually doing a mechanic's work, 
therefore, he learns all about the trade, and indeed may get a 
thorough insight into it. Thus if his plumber is a good 
man, he is better served so far than many an apprentice 
elsewhere who goes straight to the bench. In any case a 
smart chap can hardly help learning enough to enable him 
to go and practise the actual processes for himself in a Trade 
School, which he should do whilst he is still working as a 
mate, and during this time many will also acquire a set of 
tools with which to start as improvers. Many jobs, indeed, 
like the " wiping of joints/' can be carried out in the Schools, 
so that at them the mate can practise for himself of an 
evening some of the things which he has seen his plumber 
do during the day. Thus one foreman said : ' ' You can see 
lads at the Technical Schools any evening of the week doing 
ordinary plumbers' work, wiping joints, beating out sheet- 
lead, and so on." This, of course, is only a beginning, and 
some years of actual work in the shop will be required to 
attain proficiency ; but it does make a start easier. Another 
advantage possessed by learners in plumbing consists in 
the shortness of the hours recognized in the London Dis- 
trict, namely forty-seven in summer and forty-four in winter ; 
and these give them almost exceptional opportunities for 
attendance at classes. 

Thus the time comes when the mate feels competent to 
start for himself, and so soon as an opportunity occurs, he 
goes out and takes his first job as an improver. He now has 
a mate of his own. Usually he will proceed to another firm, 
as many plumbers do not look with favour on their mates 
taking up their work. Often a small shop doing general 
repairs or light work, or else one that is specializing on certain 
branches, is the first venture. Either of these can usually 
find room for an improver. He is taken on at a price and 
put off when not wanted or not able to earn it. Some work 
their way up to their full money in their first improver's 


job. Others will make several changes, and learn a little 
more at each place. They may make competent plumbers, 
or they may not, but they seldom or never go back to a 
mate's job. And as already stated, the method of learning 
is much the same, even where there is an Apprenticeship or 
Agreement. The apprentice will work as a mate for some 
years and will only be given the tools in his last year or two. 

It may again be worth while to quote a few industrial 

Aristides x (aged 23) is the son of a plumber. He went 
into the trade because he himself took a fancy for it, as his 
father had no special idea of putting him to it. He began 
with a year as office boy in a plumbing firm at 8s. a week, and 
for the next year worked with it for 125. as plumber's boy. 
He then moved to another shop where he got 4^. per hour, 
and was there for fifteen months. After this he worked for 
three months at 5^. When this job was finished he was 
out for six' weeks, and then got taken on under the L.C.C. 
as mate to a Union workman at yd. per hour the full rate 
for a mate. This man would not allow him any chance to 
learn, and if he picked up the tools told him to put them 
down. What he did, however, was to see how each job was 
done and then " come up here," 2 and practise it. He found 
that Non-Society men were the same. They would let him 
do nothing but wait upon them. After nearly two years he 
lost this job through spraining his ankle, and then got one 
or two short ones as a mate in small firms. Then he started 
as an improver. His first job produced 9^. per hour. He 
was dismissed for slackness, and after a fortnight got another 
job for 10 d. per hour. In the former both the walking fore- 
man and the foreman of the job gave him a little help. 
In one of these firms there were five other improvers like 
himself, and about half of the mates were young men who 
were not getting the full money, and several of them were 
trying to learn the trade. The second of these jobs came 
to an end after three months. Since then he has worked 

1 The names, of course, are imaginary. 

2 I.e., to the Trade School. 


on temporary jobs for Builders who do not keep a plumber 
regularly employed, usually having a week or two out of 
work in between. In one of these he worked for six 
months at 10 \d. per hour, and in another, lasting about the 
same time, he got the full money, lid. When I saw him 
he was still doing this sort of work, as he was unable to get 
regular employment. 

Brasidas 1 left School at 14^. His father was at one time 
a carpenter and then a policeman, but has since retired. 
He began with three years in a Tramway Engineer's Office, 
hoping to become a clerk. He then tried for a position to 
be trained as a Sanitary Inspector, but failed to obtain it, 
and was advised to become a plumber and work his way 
up to it. When I saw him he had been six years at this, 
five as a mate and one as an improver. He has worked 
for five shops altogether and moved backwards and forwards 
between them. He began with eighteen months with a 
Sanitary Engineering firm for 4^. per hour and was dismissed 
for slackness. After three weeks he got a job at 5^. per 
hour and in time raised his wages first, to 6d. and then to yd. 
He was usually out for about a fortnight at the end of each 
job. In his first improver's place he got Sd. and was there 
for three months, but in his next he accepted 6%d. on the 
understanding that he should be taught estimating and 
measuring, and when I saw him had worked there regularly 
for nine months. The agreement was being pretty well 

Cincinnatus, 1 after nine years at the trade, is still a mate. 
His father is a gardener. He left school at fourteen. It 
had always been his ambition to become a plumber, and a 
mate's job was the first that presented itself. Business, how- 
ever, is so bad he would change if he could, though he likes 
the work. He was four years in his first job for a Master 
Builder and Plumber and worked as mate to his employer's 
son. He was the only boy there. His wages for each of the 
four years were 8s., ios.6^., 135. and i6s. respectively, and 
he was given the tools and the chance to do the work as 
1 The names are, of course, imaginary. 


opportunity offered, there being an understanding to that 
effect. With them he got regular employment. He always 
had the ambition to get into a big shop, and eventually 
obtained a job in the one where he was when I saw him. He 
had been there nearly five years. For the first three he 
had worked for the firm in the country, and after that came 
back to London. For about twelve months he was employed 
irregularly by them, being continually put off and losing 
about thirteen weeks out of the fifty-two. He started at 4 %d. 
per hour and when I saw him was get ting 5 \d., which is not 
the full mate's money. He finds he has been very much kept 
back, and that the men are mostly hostile to those who, like 
himself, are trying to get into the trade in this way. Some 
men will do all they can to prevent them doing so, whilst the 
preference given to the sons of the plumbers employed by 
the firm, or to those who have influence behind them, keeps 
the others back. When I saw him he was intending to try 
his luck with the foreman to get a start as an improver, 
and to go elsewhere if he failed. There were some twenty 
improvers employed by this firm. 

Curiously enough Plumbing shows a greater tendency 
towards Formal Apprenticeship than any other branch of 
the Building Trades. The growing realization of the needs 
of public health and sound sanitation has led to special atten- 
tion being paid to the question of the training of plumbers. 
This has resulted in movements for the Registration of 
Plumbers and for the revival of Apprenticeship among them 
and in both of them the Plumbers' Company has been active. 
On the other hand the method of Folio wing-Up, the organiza- 
tion of the trade, the short working hours and the position of 
the Trade Schools render indentures to some extent less neces- 
sary. The long period as a mate, too, keeps the learner under 
better control during his earlier years at the time when such 
control is most necessary, and so checks the tendency to run 
wild that is often found among improvers. Moreover for the 
first few years of his time a lad's work will be much the same, 
whether he is an apprentice or not. From the learner's 
point of view also, the advantages of being bound are less 


than they are elsewhere. "Is it to be expected that a 
smart young chap shall take lower wages as an apprentice 
boy and perhaps pay a premium, when by working as a 
mate and using the Technical Schools, he can learn just as 
well and get better money while doing it ? " In other words 
Following-up is in many ways an efficient alternative to 
Apprenticeship, but even here the value of a definite and 
regular engagement to teach must not be lost sight of. 

This value is further increased, when the question of 
recruiting, as well as that of the actual teaching, is con- 
sidered ; for the laying down of definite conditions of service 
makes it possible to regulate more quickly and successfully 
the flow of labour into the trade. With mates it is often 
difficult to know whether they will or will not attempt to 
become plumbers, and thus more may try to do so than it can 
hold, since the number of young mates cannot be limited so 
easily as that of apprentices. This fear, often a justifiable 
one, is largely responsible for that hostility which some 
plumbers display towards the efforts of their mates to better 
themselves, and so prevents the latter from getting the 
help and advice which they require. Indirectly, therefore, 
Following-up may for these reasons result in inefficient 
training in cases where Apprenticeship or Service would not. 
Thirdly, it does cause some failures which with a regular 
agreement might never occur. The boy or youth who 
has to stand alone and teach himself does require a higher 
level of ability than the one under a contract, and this is 
one of the reasons why the value of the latter may be so great. 

What is needed, therefore, is some method which, 
without closing the alternative avenue, shall extend the 
number of contracts of Apprenticeship or other definite 
agreements, and regulate the influx into the trade ; some 
method, in short, by which, at a certain stage and on ful- 
filling certain conditions, a youth who is f ollowing-up shall 
be definitely recognized as a learner. At present Follow- 
ing-up is far more common than Apprenticeship in the 
Building and Contracting firms and with most of the Builders' 
Plumbers, whilst the latter prevails as a rule among the 


smaller firms, the Sanitary Engineers and similar businesses. 

Finally the question arises how far those who enter the 
trade by this means can get permanent employment at it, 
and whether it is actually a Partial Blind Alley, as it would 
be if all the mates were actual as well as potential learners. 
Allowance must be made, however, for the facts that a 
considerable proportion of the mates are grown men who 
are likely to remain as they are, and that the occupation of a 
mate is a semi-skilled one requiring considerable strength, 
and thus provides a man's livelihood. Hence, if the pro- 
portion of grown mates were sufficiently large, there would 
be room for all the youths who desired to do so to enter 
the trade as skilled plumbers, without any danger of over- 

A study of recent censuses suggests that normally there 
is some, though not a marked, surplus of youths between 17 
and 20 ; but a greater and more real danger is that of an excess 
of adult men. Many of the younger, and some of the older, 
mates aim at making themselves plumbers, and even if 
they fail to become competent, seldom go back to their old 
position, so that the trade contains a number of inferior 
mechanics who are " good mates spoilt." Further there 
is no real check on the number who try to enter it, and so 
the presence of many young mates may mean more 
potential plumbers than it can hold. Again, when there 
is an excess in the upper grade, a similar one is likely 
to result in the lower, since each plumber must have his 
mate. Thus instead of a proportion of the younger men 
being turned off altogether at an early age, there is the 
danger of a more or less general shortage of employment 
for all. The returns of the Plumbers' Union in London 
have for the last ten years shown an excessive rate of un- 
employment in good years and bad alike. Compared with 
the rest of the Building Trades, Plumbing is not very highly 
seasonal, so that this high percentage of unemployment 
is the more remarkable. No doubt it is due in part to other 
causes, but, nevertheless, the tendency to overstock the 
trade is largely responsible for it. 


Moreover Following-up has undoubtedly helped to produce 
a class of half -trained and casually employed plumbers, 
though this result is not so serious as it sometimes is in the 
case of Migration. The ever-present danger of overstocking 
has led some of the men to attempt to keep back the mates, 
and has sometimes prevented all but the most persistent from 
learning the work properly. Secondly, the special chances 
which it still provides have called into it a number of men 
who lack the capacity to acquire it, thus adding to the 
number of " good mates gone wrong " who only make 
inefficient mechanics. Finally the long preliminary period 
of labouring renders them less able and less willing to leave 
it than the younger boys who spend their youth about some 
other industries. 

Thus the trade as a whole shows a comparatively slight 
tendency to turn off boy labour at the close of adolescence, 
but is apt to suffer from a general over-supply of adults, 
accompanied frequently by the growth of a class of casual, 
because inefficiently taught, workmen. In the opposite 
direction there is a danger of keeping in its lower ranks 
those who are fit for something better. At present boys 
of real ability may remain mates all their lives from one 
cause or another, real lack of opportunity, want of confi- 
dence in themselves, opposition from the journeymen and 
so on. Entering the trade and finding their way barred, 
they either fear to leave it or are attracted by the certainty 
that is still theirs, and thus there is a further waste of good 
material. In other words, the trade may not act directly 
as a Blind Alley, but appears to produce other consequences 
that are no less harmful. 

With the smiths conditions are very similar, but the 
undesirable results of Following-up are less in evidence. 
Their trade has three chief branches, those of Engineers', 
Builders', and Coach Smiths', between which there does not 
appear to be much interchange, though the methods of 
working are similar. Methods of teaching are much the 
same as with plumbers, except that Apprenticeships and 
other definite engagements are less common. They are 


found mostly in some of the bigger shops, where Regular 
Service of some kind is general in all departments. Thus 
the Ship- Repairing firms have a rigidly interpreted informal 
agreement. Normally, youths serve for some years as 
hammermen, and during this time may learn vice-work as 
well. Then they get on to a " small fire " as improvers, 
probably in another firm, and work alone at it without 
an assistant. An influence hostile to Apprenticeship or 
even Regular Service, which is absent in the case of plumb- 
ing, is that the teaching of an apprentice often means the 
laying down of an extra fire, which in many cases is impos- 
sible. The big shops are often able to keep special fires 
to which a lad can be raised, but the small ones cannot do 
this, and the only alternative would be to dismiss a competent 
man to make room for the learner. Thus, not only are 
fewer apprentices taken, but a young hammerman is more 
likely to have to move into a new firm before he can get a 
start as an improver. 

Again, Smithing is a trade in which the question of strength 
is of even greater importance than in Plumbing, and hence 
young boys are not sought after. Thus they must wait 
till they are seventeen or eighteen, or go to a place where 
light work is done. " Boys are of no use to me," said one 
foreman ; "it wants a strong chap of eighteen or nineteen to 
manage the hammers. So I take on a young fellow of that 
age at about 3^. an hour, according to what he is worth. If 
he has been at a small firm where they take boys, which 
is best, he will get $d. or so. Many little shops employ them 
and pay them a few shillings a week, so that this represents 
a fine rise to them/' The case of the young turner's improver 
described in a previous chapter is another illustration of 
this process. The hammerman is in the same close contact 
with the work as the plumber's mate, and sometimes has 
the further advantage of getting certain small parts of it 
to do for himself. 

The dangers of Partial Blind Alley employment appear 
to be far less here, for the Census returns shows a deficiency 
both of boys and youths. Again, the strength required 


by the hammermen reduces the proportion of youths among 
them who have ambitions to learn and increases that of 
grown men who find a permanent livelihood at hammering. 
Nor is there any definite evidence that this trade as a whole 
contains an excess either of smiths or hammermen. The 
greatest dangers are the growth, as with the plumbers, of 
a class of half-taught mechanics, and the possibility that 
some who are fit for a smith's job will remain assistants all 
their lives. 

Learning by " Folio wing-up," however, is not confined to 
occupations in which a man and a boy work together in a pair. 
On the contrary, it is from Boilermaking, in which they 
are employed in squads of four or five, that the name is 
taken. In them the " rivet boys " who serve the men are 
said to " follow-up the trade." The method applies chiefly 
to Rivetting and Holding-up, many platers and angle- 
smiths learning their business in other ways. Nor is rivet- 
ters' work confined to the actual making of boilers. Their 
Union, the Boilermakers' and Iron and Steel Shipbuilders' 
Society, covers boilermaking, iron and steel shipbuilding, 
and bridge, girder, pontoon, tank and gasometer making. 
And in nearly all of these the rivet ter is employed. The 
method of Following-up, however, is most important 
in reference to Boiler and Tank Making. The former 
employs angle-smith, plater, rivetter, caulker and holder- 
up, and also a semi-skilled class of drillers, but in the London 
repair work the same person often acts both as rivetter 
and caulker. 

In Rivetting the " squad " normally consists of five persons 
two rivetters, one holder-up, and two boys (a heater and 
a carrier) . The former drive in the rivets which are brought 
to them red-hot from the fire by the boys, and the holder- 
up holds the plates in position during the process. Of the 
boys the younger heats the rivets at the fire, and the older 
one carries them from it to the boiler or tank. This is the 
normal number in Boilermaking. In the lighter tank 
work the squad consists as a rule of three only, rivetter, 
holder-up and boy. Again, in some cases the use of the 


hydraulic blast displaces the boy at the fire, but where, as 
in ship-repairing, the rivets have to be carried some distance, 
several carriers may be needed to each squad. 

The rivet-heater is usually a boy of from fourteen to 
sixteen, who starts at the earlier age at 8s. or 95. a week. At 
sixteen he either becomes a carrier or leaves the trade, and 
this proves the first crisis in his fate. If he passes through 
it safely and becomes a carrier at 35. a day, his chances of 
learning the business are increased, though all the carriers 
do not do so. The rule of the Boilermakers' Society requires 
apprentices to enter it not later than sixteen, and in London, 
where they are very few, the taking of a carrier's job marks 
a definite step up the ladder, though as yet the position is 
not quite assured. 

The lad's duty now consists in taking the rivets from the 
fire and placing them in the holes in the plates already made 
by the drillers for the purpose. This is responsible work, 
since it is important to keep the rivets at the right heat 
and get them in position smartly. A good or bad carrier 
may, indeed, involve an enormous difference in the amount 
of labour entailed on the rivetter by a day's work. Hence 
some of them earn very good money, getting 35. a day after 
a short time, and even more on piece-work. It is from 
this job, therefore, that a boy follows-up the trade. The 
Union rules lay it down that he shall serve for five years 
continuously, starting not later than sixteen, and that he 
may be allowed a year more to get his full money in the shop 
in which he is working ; and they make special provision for 
cases where his time does not end until after he is twenty-one. 

There is not here, as with smiths and plumbers, the same 
definite change from the position of assistant to that of 
improver. The carrier's position as a learner gets recognized 
sooner or later, and he is given opportunities to learn. If 
he is definitely apprenticed or the son of a member of the 
Union, the men lay themselves out to see that he gets taught, 
whilst the Society itself appears to take special care of its 
young workers. Strength also plays a very important part 
in this trade, and as his physical powers develop, a boy can 


start on a man's work with comparative ease. So he asks 
the holder-up to give him a try, and, if it is convenient, he 
gets a chance to do a bit of this. Or when caulking and chip- 
ping are being done, the foreman lets him have the tools 
and go round with the caulkers. So he gradually comes to 
learn the business, or " gets the tools into his hands " as 
the phrase is, and when a vacancy occurs, either as holder- 
up or second rivet ter, he is put to fill it. 

Moreover, the rules of the trade allow the learner or 
apprentice not merely to follow it up in this way to the 
extent of becoming a holder-up or a rivet ter, but to progress 
from one job to another till he reaches the highest positions. 
Thus from holding-up he can rise to be first a plater and 
finally an angle-smith. Others will go straight to rivetting 
without first working as holders-up, whilst the less capable 
never progress beyond this, the lowest of the skilled branches 
of the trade, in which they get 395. a week, as against the 
455. and 485. respectively of the rivetters and platers. Angle- 
smiths get even more. 

Unlike the rivetters, however, the platers do not acquire 
the trade only by this method. Their duty is to mark 
off the plates, see to the cutting and shaping of them, and 
place them in position for the rivetters : and to some extent 
they are recruited from boys who have worked with them 
from the very beginning. These are taken on to make them- 
selves generally useful, often with the idea of learning later 
on. If so, they are usually put to assist the marker-off, 
and after a few years the foreman takes them under his own 
control and gives them small jobs of cutting and shaping to 
do, and after this they gradually acquire the trade. They 
are learning, therefore, not by Following-up, but by informal 
Regular Service, and a good proportion of London platers 
have started in this way. Similarly, the small and select 
body of angle-smiths are partly recruited directly. 

Migration from one firm to another during the time the 
trade is being learnt is explicitly forbidden by the rules of 
the Society, which lay down five years' continuous service 
as an apprentice and in a single firm. After its conclusion 


a further year in which to get full money is given to those 
whose time commenced before they were sixteen, but not 
to those who started later than this. For the latter special 
regulations have been made. 

These rules appear to be strictly carried out in the 
Northern Shipyards, but except perhaps with platers, 
it is doubtful if the conditions of a repairing centre 
permit of their enforcement in London. Continuous 
work for five years, with some allowance for short stop- 
pages, is indeed more or less general, but service in a 
single firm cannot always be adhered to. Sometimes in- 
sistence upon it compels carriers to give up the attempt to 
learn, but in other cases they contrive to do so whilst working 
in different yards, and it would appear that service in 
a single squad is admitted as a substitute for service in a 
single yard. Conditions of work make changes from one 
firm to another a necessity for the men themselves, and 
therefore for the boys who work with them. Moreover, 
apart from this, there appears to be a good deal of casual 
migration and picking up of the trade in one firm after 
another. One foreman said that his experience was that 
after about five years from the time they started as carriers, 
all who showed sufficient competence were " recognized as 
apprentices," and given a certain period to get their full 
money, and that the boys appear to be well looked after 
by the Union. 

The trade is undeniably a Partial Blind Alley, more 
particularly when the squad has a full complement of two 
boys to three men. As such, however, it possesses a peculiar 
double character, some having to leave it as early as sixteen 
and others not until some years later. In the first place a 
large number are employed from fourteen till about sixteen 
as heaters, and from them the carriers are recruited. But 
all of the former cannot be absorbed, and a large proportion 
have to seek other employment. At this age such is not 
very difficult to obtain, but the character of the rivet-heater's 
job does not appear to improve his chances of good work 


Thus, a preliminary weeding-out of the boys is made, and 
those who remain become carriers ; but even so it is not 
possible for all of them to stay permanently in the trade, 
though the proportion who do so is very much larger than 
in the case of the heaters. The progression of rivetters to 
plating somewhat increases the number of openings, but 
against this have to be set the cases where a squad requires 
more than one carrier. The experience of different foremen 
varies. Some are able to find room for practically all their 
carriers. Others have a marked excess over and above the 
number that they can find room for. Taken as a whole, 
there appears to be a small excess, and some of them have 
to leave the trade. A few of those who do, get semi-skilled 
work as drillers. 

Finally, the irregular character of much of the work has 
the inevitable result of collecting a reserve of boy labour. 
Partly this is due to the action of spells of unemployment 
in spoiling a boy's chances of learning. Short periods of 
it do not much militate against him, but long-continued 
irregularity often makes it practically impossible to acquire 
the trade. Moreover, some firms get a number of lads waiting 
round their gates to be taken on when there is a rush, owing 
to the attractions of casual labour and high pay. Thus not 
only does the trade require more boys to do its business than 
it can absorb into its ranks as men, but it gets more than 
are really necessary to carry out the work. 

The other branches of rivetting do not need detailed treat- 
ment, since the general conditions remain much the same. 
With bridge-builders jobs are usually of longer duration, and 
the conditions approximate rather to those of the building 
trades in which changes of job often occur only after a lapse 
of months. In the lighter Tank-making, squads appear to 
consist of two men and one boy only, and many lads used 
to follow their fathers into it, and these obtained the best 
chances. It has, however, been largely revolutionized by 
the development of machine-rivetting, which has not only 
reduced the amount of labour required, but has brought 
it down to the level of a semi-skilled process. Moreover, 


in machine-rivet ting, the rivet boy as such is not needed. 

These are some of the chief trades in which the method of 
Following-up prevails, and illustrate the forms it takes, ac- 
cording as men and boys work together in pairs or in squads. 
But it is worth while to consider some of the smaller processes 
which adopt the system, since in them the characteristics 
of a Partial Blind Alley are usually very marked. That 
known as Leather-Splitting, which is applied to sheep's pelts 
and other light hides, may first be dealt with. To begin 
with, these pass through the lime pits and then through 
the hands of the flesher. 1 After this the inner and outer 
pelt have to be separated, or in the technical phrase, 
split. This used formerly to be done by hand, and was a 
very highly-skilled process. It is now done upon a machine 
and requires considerably less skill, though good money can 
be made at it. Each machine is worked by a man assisted by 
a youth. The former puts in the pelt. This requires great 
care and accuracy, as otherwise it will be spoilt, and the work 
has also to be done very quickly. The youth stands at the 
other side to pull out the separate pieces after they have 
passed through. He also has to pay great attention to his 
job, though it is not a skilled one. 2 

He starts at about sixteen years of age, and is paid either 
at once, or very shortly, at the rate of 4^. per hour, but 
will not get much more until he leaves this job and be- 
comes a splitter, and grown men occasionally do the work. 
Thus the boy's position is not dissimilar to that of the 
plumber's mate, but after being raised to the front of the 
machine he would soon be able to do the man's job. He 
would, however, go more slowly for some time and, being 
paid piece-rates, would earn less. 

Some firms make a great effort to keep on as many of 
their boys as possible, by promoting one or other of them 
whenever a vacancy occurs on a machine or a new one is 
laid down, but as the London trade is not expanding rapidly, 

1 See Chap. iv. 

2 For a general description of the Manufacture of light leather 
see Chap. vii. 


the latter is not frequent. Hence the process is to a rather 
marked extent a Partial Blind Alley. The job itself lasts 
longer than many other blind alleys, however, and the 
wage to be earned is considerably higher. Hence a youth 
can afford to stay in it till as late as twenty-two or twenty- 
three, and many do so in the hope of a rise. As, therefore, 
each boy stays in it five or six years, or even longer, the excess 
is correspondingly reduced. Secondly, the factories in 
which splitting is carried out contain a number of semi-skilled 
processes into which those who cannot find places as splitters 
might be drafted. But though some of the employers fill 
such vacancies by promoting boys from other departments, 
I was not able to get definite evidence that this was done in 
the case of the splitters' helpers ; and in any case, when all 
allowance is made, not all of them can look for permanent 
employment in the same factory or even in any parts of the 
leather trade. 

Similar conditions exist in wire-rope weaving, whose pro- 
cesses and methods somewhat resemble those of the textile 
trades. The wire is first wound on to specially made bobbins, 
and then woven on small machines into strands, and these 
strands on larger ones into a rope. This is then taken into 
another shop to be finished. The finishing is essentially a 
skilled process, whilst the weavers earn up to 6s. a day on 
the biggest machines. 

Boys are employed in considerable numbers, coming 
into the works at about fifteen years of age to carry out 
the preliminary process of winding the wire on to the bob- 
bins. The next step is to serve as look-out boy on the 
bigger machines, to call the minder's attention to any 
flaw or breakage in the wire. Many more are employed 
than can find places as men, and a good number drift away 
to other jobs or show no aptitude for this one. An attempt 
is usually made to find room for those who do. They con- 
tinue at " looking-out " for some time, and are then put to 
work a smaller machine. In one large firm they are sent 
into a separate room where there is a man told off to teach 
them, and those who have got into it may be taken to have 


started definitely to learn the business. They would then 
wait their turn to get on to a bigger machine. In this 
firm also some of the learners in the finishing department 
appear to have been selected from among the look-out 
boys. This, and the fact that every machine does not 
require a boy, somewhat reduces the excess, which is never- 
theless admitted to be considerable. 

Another small industry is that of Glass-blowing. Here 
the work is usually done by a " chair " of four persons, com- 
posed of the maker, the most skilled man, two blowers or 
" servitors," and a boy. In some of the best qualities an 
additional man, called a foot-maker, is also employed. 
The boy starts making himself generally useful, and gradu- 
ally rises to do the blowing, and sometimes from that to be 
a maker. Whether apprenticed or not, he begins as in other 
trades belonging to this group by being told off definitely 
to assist the other men. The number of learners or appren- 
tices is strictly limited by the rules of the men's Union, 
and so it is not every boy employed in a " chair " who 
can enter the trade, but those who are taught learn by 
" folio wing-up " from one position to another. 

This practically concludes the account of the trades which 
definitely belong to this group ; but the method of acquiring 
bricklaying resembles in so many ways that of Following- 
up that it is worth considering here, the more so as the 
numbers affected are large. Thus in 1911 bricklayers 
and bricklayers' labourers numbered about 15,000 in the 
County of London and over 28,000 in Greater London, and 
these totals still showed a considerable drop compared with 
1901. Separate returns have not yet been given for brick- 
layers and labourers in the last census except in a few 
instances, but in 1901 the proportions in London were 
about 6 of the former to 5 of the latter. 

In this trade the provincial influx is large, and it is 
mainly recruited from the younger labourers who obtain a 
knowledge of the simpler processes by observation, and 
then get hold of a trowel and start to lay bricks. Many 
of them have come in from agricultural districts, where 


they may have done some rough brick or stone laying, 
and possess ambitions above those of the ordinary town 

The resemblance to the method of Following-up lies 
in this, that, by working as a labourer, serving a bricklayer, 
a man or boy gets to know how to handle his trowel and 
how to do the easier parts. Much bricklaying is very 
simple work iadeed, and in cheap suburban building or on 
some large plain job, an intelligent man can very easily do 
it and continue to do it for some time. If he comes to some- 
thing more difficult, or the contracts end, he gets sacked and 
goes off to find another place, and improves his knowledge 
a little in each situation till he can do all the ordinary work. 
Finer processes, such as gauge work and the cutting of 
cornices and arches, cannot be learnt in this way, but a 
Trade School will enable him to get an insight into them. 
The Bricklayers' Society, indeed, and many of the work- 
men look with strong disapproval on this means of learning, 
so that the would-be bricklayer has to go into small firms 
or suburban districts, or wherever the Union influence is 
not strong. 

Nevertheless the real resemblance to the method of Fol- 
lowing-up is but slight. The labourer often serves a single 
bricklayer, but is not attached to him in the way that a 
mate is to his plumber, nor are they, as a rule, engaged 
and dismissed in pairs. Thus, the bricklayer's labourer 
is occupied running up and down a ladder with a hod, mixing 
mortar, and so on. He does not come into very close contact 
with the actual work, nor does he, like the plumber's im- 
prover, start with a detailed knowledge of what all the 
processes of the trade are and how they ought to be done. 
He has simply seen how the simplest and easiest work 
is carried out, and when he begins to lay bricks, he has 
only the same sort of knowledge, though rather more of 
it, with which the joiner's glue-boy starts at the bench. 
His position, therefore, is rather that of the promoted 
shop or errand boy. He is assisted, however, by the 
easiness of the simpler kinds of bricklaying and by the 


amount of cheap building that is done, in which builders 
often prefer a young, energetic chap who will get through 
the work quickly, if very roughly, and will be prepared to 
take wages little better than those of a labourer. 

Moreover, bricklaying is also, though not very often, 
acquired by more normal methods. There are occasional 
Apprenticeships, and boys engaged about the building 
pick up the trade and work their way up, sometimes in 
the same firm, and sometimes by moving about as improvers. 
This is really what the labourers are doing. They are not 
following up the trade, but are learning it by migration 
after a late start. Nearly all of them are young men, and 
it should be added that of those who learn in this way many 
fail to become efficient bricklayers. 

To sum up, therefore, the method of Following-up applies 
to a group of occupations nearly all of which are skilled, 
though one or two are near the border-line that divides 
the skilled from the semi-skilled. It includes several large 
trades and a few smaller ones, and its salient feature is the 
long preliminary service of the helper who, after this, raises 
himself to the position of a tradesman. The method is 
liable to danger from two alternative sources. Either it 
may create a Partial Blind Alley, or it may cause a trade 
to become overstocked owing to the number of helpers who 
have attempted to rise. Sometimes both these evils are 
found in existence side by side in the same trade, and at 
others, thanks to certain modifying conditions, they are 
both avoided. Other difficulties also arise. The helper, 
being a semi-skilled worker, has a definite occupation before 
him, even if he does not become a tradesman, but he may 
be fit for something better and yet never be anything 
more than an assistant. 

This group of trades, moreover, illustrates very well the 
difference between the old technical idea of an Indentured 
Apprenticeship and its underlying meaning. The former 
may even be inapplicable to some of them, though in others 
indentures are by no means unusual. In any case, many 
of them can be, and are, quite successfully learnt without a 


definite binding, or even without any kind of agreement at 
all. But the underlying meaning of Apprenticeship com- 
prises the systematic regulation and control of the teaching, 
of the teacher, and of the taught. It includes the right 
choice of a trade, the control over the conditions of instruc- 
tion, and the after-care of the boys themselves. In this 
sense Following-up still requires an Apprenticeship System : 
and in some ways its special characteristics make the need 
greater and not less than it is elsewhere. Such, for instance, 
is the result of the tendency to a Partial Blind Alley, and 
the frequent absence of an effective control by the employer. 
Similar arguments also hold good of Migration. Indeed, the 
more informal are the conditions of employment and learning, 
the greater is the need of organization. In the form, there- 
fore, of a regulated and organized scheme of teaching, 
suited to modern needs and varying according to the require- 
ments of different industries, the Apprenticeship System 
is eternal. 


Semi-Skilled Labour an intermediate grade Definition of it How it 
is learnt ? Its Four Classes First Class Semi-Skilled Position 
due to Specialization of Processes Method of Teaching 
Three Forms taken by it Examples, the Factory Boot Trade 
Small number of young boys employed Publishers' Bookbind- 
ing The Engineering Trades, heavy and light Conditions 
producing this class less frequent in London than elsewhere 
Other instances High Skill required within a narrow limit 
Second Class A moderate level of all round skill As a result of 
the natural character of a trade Carmen Navvies Paviours 
Printers' Warehousemen and Cutters. As a result of only 
acquiring part of a trade Due to strictly limited demand for 
higher-grade labour Coach Painting Due to failure to learn 
the whole House Painting. Third Class Considerable Care 
and Responsibility involved Some manual skill also required 
Scaffolders -Stationary Engine Drivers and Stokers Crane- 
men Little or no manual skill required Labourers in Chemical 
Works Fourth Class Mates or Assistants of Mechanics 

Question whether general level of skill has decreased. 
Reasons for holding that it has not Influence of Semi-Skilled 
Labour, especially upon Boy Labour Problem Late Age 
at which it is entered It is permanent and easy to acquire 
Definite Livelihood provided by it Its capacity to meet in 
part the difficulties of Blind Abbey employment Absorption 
of surplus boys in semi-skilled work Done in a single Factory, 
as illustrated from the Manufacture of Light Leather Dangers 
of Semi-Skilled Labour Liable to encourage drifting and 
failure to learn And to keep boys who are fit for something 
better Need for Organization to embrace both skilled and 
semi-skilled labour and contrived to meet the special difficulties 
of both. 

BETWEEN the mechanic and the unskilled labourer there 
is an intermediate class of workmen. To this the name of 
semi-skilled is given and modern developments of industry 
cause it to have a steadily increasing importance, It takes 



a variety of forms and on the whole is growing at the expense, 
both of the grade above and of the grade below it. It 
introduces into the question of Industrial Training problems 
and difficulties which differ somewhat from those which we 
have hitherto been considering. 

It may be worth while to return for a moment to the 
definitions given in an earlier chapter. According to these, 
skilled work consists of all employments that " require a 
long period of training, whether this is obtained under a 
definite contract or agreement and in a single firm, or 
whether without any such agreement the worker is teaching 
himself his business in one or more firms." Again unskilled 
labour " only possesses the minimum of skill and knowledge 
and therefore neither requires nor receives any definite 
period of training. Such knowledge as distinguishes a 
good from an inefficient unskilled labourer can be suffi- 
ciently acquired by practice alone." This class, therefore, 
will not need definite treatment in reference to the training 
actually given to it, whilst semi-skilled labour will. For 
it " includes those trades and processes which do not need 
a long period of education, but can be acquired in a com- 
paratively short time. Nevertheless they are distinguished 
from the third (unskilled) class by the moderate level of 
knowledge, skill and power that they require." Thus it is 
often possible to learn to do the actual work in a short time, 
but afterwards considerable practice is still necessary in 
order to obtain the speed and the accuracy of the adult 
worker. The pace ot a youth is less and he is more liable 
to spoil what he does. 1 

To the teaching of this grade, therefore, the term " picking- 

1 The following definition of a semi-skilled workman was given 
by Sir Benjamin Browne in his evidence before the Poor Law 
Commission : " The semi-skilled man is a man who works a machine 
or does something of that sort, like the man who strikes for the 
blacksmith. He is a man who would not have to serve an apprentice- 
ship, but he has picked up a certain amount of special skill which 
makes him worth more than his neighbour for the special work. 
In that class you include coalminers and navvies and all those men." 
(Appendix, Vol. VIII. Question 86298. November 26, 1907). 


up " can conveniently be applied. There is little regular 
teaching, nor does a youth take a long period to acquire his 
work, even allowing for what he spends in perfecting himself 
at it. When he is too old for a boy's job, or wants more 
money, or sees a chance to better himself, he gets on to a 
new process and " picks that up." Further the recruiting 
of these occupations is not confined to boys and youths, 
but, in factory employments especially, use is also made of 
adult labourers, particularly when considerable care, 
strength, or sense of responsibility is required. Again 
certain kinds of work enable those who follow them to take 
up some semi-skilled job. Thus Scaffolding, is largely the 
monopoly of sailors ; soldiers sometimes have advantages 
for qualifying as carmen, and the numerous semi-skilled 
brush-hands engaged in House Painting are recruited from 
the failures of almost every other trade. 

It is now possible to distinguish between the various 
classes into which semi-skilled labour can be divided. 
These are four in number. First there are the numerous 
specialized processes, which involve considerable skill 
within a very narrow range, and include certain branches 
of the Engineering and Electrical Trades, the factory indus- 
try of Boot-Making, Publishers' (Wholesale) Bookbinding, 
some of the processes of Leather Manufacture and the 
Machine-Ri vetting of Tanks and Boilers. Such specializa- 
tion is usually accompanied by the use of a great deal of 
machinery. Secondly, there are those occupations which 
may be called semi-skilled par excellence, in that they always 
have been so, and have not required the development ol 
machinery or of specialization to make them so. They 
need no more than a moderate general level of manual 
skill and dexterity. With them may be grouped those 
workers who are semi-skilled because they have only learnt 
part of a trade. For some trades do not necessitate the 
thorough all round training of all their hands. The best 
workmen receive it, but others either can, or must, be con- 
tent with a lower level and a knowledge of some parts only 
of the work. These, too, are usually the easiest ones. In 


this class come carmen, navvies, warehousemen and cutters 
in the Printing Trades, and brush-hands in House and Coach 
Painting. Thirdly, there are jobs which may be placed in 
this grade on account of the responsibility and the often high 
degree of care and trustworthiness required of the.workmen. 
Sometimes a certain amount of skill is also needed and 
sometimes it is not. Such jobs include those of crane drivers, 
scaffolders, stationary engine drivers and stokers, a good 
many labourers in chemical works and so on. Lastly, 
there are the men who are employed as mates or assistants 
to other workmen, as in some of the trades described in the 
last chapter. 

The general method of learning is much the same in nearly 
all these occupations, though there are differences of detail. 
The most important of them is that in some cases a boy's 
job is distinctly preliminary to a man's, and in others there is 
little or no connection between them and they may not be in 
the same department or even in the same factory. Usually, 
however, there is some sort of connection, if only a slight 
one, and many firms make a point of recruiting their semi- 
skilled workers from boys previously employed in other 
parts of their business. In any case a start is made on a 
boy's job at the usual wage, which gradually increases till 
it reaches a maximum beyond which no rise will be given for 
that particular work ; and many boys will have moved to 
other situations before this point is reached. Those who 
remain will then contrive to get themselves promoted to 
something better and gradually work their way up. 

Usually at about the age of 18 there is a definite break. 
The boy's job has come to an end, the man's job has not 
yet begun. In the former the boy has attained both his 
maximum usefulness and his maximum wage and the work 
allows of no further advance. He has to leave it, therefore, 
and to find himself something more suited to his years. 
Such a break, indeed, usually distinguishes the semi-skilled 1 
from the skilled worker ; for in the life of the latter this 

1 An exception must be made in the case of those who are mates or 
assistants of mechanics. 


break either comes much earlier or does not come at all. 
The former spends his time on boy labour till this fails him, 
and when it does, he contrives by good luck or good manage- 
ment to get into a job in the intermediate grade. In it he 
remains, and after this point progress is as described. The 
new process is learnt in a few months or a year at most, 
and then the learner still needs to increase his speed and 
to perfect the accuracy and economy of his working. 

Such is the general method of " picking-up " semi-skilled 
work ; but differences in detail justify the separate descrip- 
tion of individual trades. Semi-skilled occupations produced 
by specialization and the development of machine produc- 
tion fall into three classes those in which there is a pro- 
gression from an easier boy's job to a more difficult man's 
job, those in which boys employed about the factory are 
promoted to other work at a lower wage than is paid to a 
man, and thirdly those in which vacancies in the semi-skilled 
processes are filled by adult labourers. Examples may be 
found in the Boot, Bookbinding and Engineering Trades 
respectively, whilst the Leather Trades afford an instance 
of marked simplification, as well as specialization, in the 

In the Boot Trade the field is divided between the skilled 
artisan who requires a long period of training and the semi- 
skilled worker who does not. " Bespoke " work belongs 
mainly to the former, and in it " the craft "* usually has to 
make a boot throughout. Wholesale factory production, 
on the other hand, is subdivided among a number of semi- 
skilled jobs, and there are a good many home workers of 
this grade, who work by hand. A clear line, however, 
cannot always be drawn between hand and machine work, 
since one firm will put out processes which another keeps 
inside the factory. The extent of the subdivision also 
varies. Sometimes every little process has its separate 
worker, man, woman or boy ; but on the whole this is 
not carried so far in London as in some other centres. There, 
whilst methods differ, the normal factory demands not the 
1 The trade term to describe the skilled hand bootmaker. 


most highly specialized worker, but a distinctly more capable 
hand who can carry out more than one job. The result is a 
body of workers who are essentially semi-skilled, and each of 
whom has to get to know a number of processes. Thus 
" training is hardly the right expression to apply, but rather 
experience. One man gets to know more sorts of work than 
another, often at much cost and trouble to himself, moving 
about from place to place in order to do this and starting 
afresh each time at low wages." A certain type of firm, 
indeed, attempts to keep each of its boys and men at a 
single thing in order to increase its hold over them ; but 
more often a man is required to adapt himself to several. 

Employment as a youth commonly precedes employment 
as a man. Sometimes a chap begins as a lad " about the fac- 
tory," but usually he goes on sooner or later to some special 
boy's job. Where the Team System prevails, the work is 
divided up among a number of men and boys, and some 
of the latter fill vacancies among the former. In such cases, 
however, the proportion of lower grade workers is too great 
to enable all to rise in this way, but of the rest some no 
doubt secure other positions in the factory. Even where 
the Team is not found, moreover, there are often boys' 
jobs and men's jobs, with the chance of a rise from one to 
the other ; and, speaking generally, the higher positions 
are filled largely by those who have started in the lower 

In this trade the simpler processes are carried out more 
frequently by older youths of sixteen and up wards than by 
younger boys. Such a late start, indeed, is a characteristic 
of much other semi-skilled work ; and those employed in 
this way are young labourers who are paid as such and take 
their chance of getting better jobs afterwards. Frequently 
boys pure and simple are only employed in small numbers. 
" Men prefer," said one employer, " to take on a boy if they 
want one, show him what they want him to do, and let him 
go if he wishes to." 

Similar, though not identical, conditions prevail in 
a great deal of bookbinding. The trade has three branches 


high-class binding, jobbing, and publishers' work. The 
first two are carried out by hand and require all-round work- 
men. Leather binding frequently need as full seven years' 
Apprenticeship, whilst jobbing necessitates a considerable, 
though shorter, period of learning, either by Service or Migra- 
tion. In publishers' work, however, books are turned out 
by the thousand, and subdivision has been carried very far. 
Hence in a few months a youth can learn enough of a certain 
process to be put on piece-work, and after a further period 
of practice will be as fast as a man, and earn as good money. 

This bears much resemblance to the conditions of the Boot 
Trade, and once again it is experience rather than training 
that is needed ; but there does not appear to be the same 
gradation of boys' and men's jobs. Lads usually start 
" about the factory " and make themselves generally useful 
in one of the departments until they are promoted to some 
branch of the trade. Otherwise a youth will probably be 
got in from outside to fill a vacancy. Moreover the pro- 
cesses do not seem to be so minutely subdivided. Each one 
requires a moderate amount of skill, and so a boy who is put 
to one of them will probably stay at it. Here again there 
appears to be some deficiency of younger lads, though it is 
less marked than in the Boot Trade. 

Heavy Engineering affords the best example of the third 
method where labourers are taken " off the floor " to operate 
machines and work their way up. A description of what is 
done in the North-East of England is worth quoting. 

" In our trade, the semi-skilled man is the man who was on the 
floor, that is a shop labourer. If he is any good at all, he is taken 
to a small machine, say a drilling machine : then if he is any 
good at that, he goes to a planing machine and so on to a slotting 
machine and other things, but not to lathe work usually. 
Planing, drilling and slotting are usually worked by semi- 
skilled men who get higher and higher wages. . . . They get 
very good wages, not so good as the engineers, though better 
than the labourer gets." 1 

Such conditions cannot apply so frequently in London 

1 Poor Law Commission : Evidence of Sir Benjamin Browne, 
Question 86334. November 26, 1907. 


because of the small size of many firms and the varied work 
of others. But in a few large ones which are engaged on 
new construction vacancies on some of the machines are 
filled from among the labourers. It is probable also that 
boys working the punch-presses, screw-cutting and other 
semi-automatic machines are sometimes promoted in this 
way, either directly or after a few years as shop labourers. 
Similarly, rivet-boys who fail to become rivetters are occa- 
sionally put to work as drillers. In the lighter electrical 
work, however, much of the machinery is operated by 
youths who gradually progress and either become fitters' 
or turners' improvers or get a semi-skilled man's job else- 

All these processes show the same limitation in the scope of 
the work done by the individual man. At his particular job 
he is of ten very highly skilled indeed. Thus, Sir Benjamin 
Browne told the Poor Law Commission, " a number of them 
turn out beautiful work, although they have not the same 
range of power that the skilled man has. A semi-skilled 
man will work one machine as well as a skilled man will. 
When that is not wanted, the skilled man will go to another 
wholly different, but the semi-skilled man cannot do it 
nearly so easily." * His wages usually fall midway between 
those of the mechanic and the unskilled labourer, but in 
London, where specialization is often less marked, those 
of the higher grade of semi-skilled often approximate 
fairly closely to those of the artisan. In Engineering, 
for instance, the man who can operate both the planing 
and slotting machines may get nearly as much as the fitter 
or turner. 

The less prominent, but probably more numerous, class 
from which skill of a moderate amount but of wider range is 
required, forms a permanent element in industrial life rather 
than a special product of modern conditions. It has 
grown with its growth rather than by the displacement of 
other grades. Indeed it is more likely to have been itself 
displaced in certain cases by the development of machine 
1 Question 86333, 


production. Semi-skilled workers of this kind also fall into 
two classes. Of these the first consists of men whose business 
requires a fairly wide range of competence and who have to 
learn the whole of it. Such are carmen, navvies, street 
paviours, printers' warehousemen and cutters and so on. 
The second is found in trades such as House and Coach 
Painting where besides the skilled men there are others 
usually the majority who have only acquired a part of it. 
The carman is an excellent example of the first class. 
Normally he is recruited from the vanguards, but not 
entirely, since soldiers who have learnt to drive sometimes 
take up his work. Boys usually " get on the vans " as soon 
as they leave school. Many of them only remain at it for a 
year or two, and few or none remain vanguards for more than 
four years. 1 During this time they will probably pick up a 
little bit of driving moving the van, for instance, a few 
doors further down the street, backing it in and out of the 
yard and so on, and by the age of eighteen their wages will 
probably have risen to IDS. or I2s. a week. 2 The next 
stage is that of driving a light cart for a weekly wage of from 
155. to 2os. This lasts about three years, and by the 
recent agreement between the Master Carmen's Association 
and the National Transport Workers' Federation the 
matter has been put on the following definite basis : 
" Cob and Pony Drivers, 12 cwt. vehicles, 155., rising to 
2os. No lads under seventeen to be employed." 3 

1 " The average life of a van boy is four years." Spencer J. Gibb, 
Problems of Boy Life. 

2 Some large concerns, notably the Railway Companies, some 
big Stores and some firms of Carters and Carmen Contractors, try as 
far as possible to provide for their vanguards, and, where they have 
other departments into which they can be drafted, attain consider- 
able success in this. Elsewhere a good many have to leave the job 
and find another occupation. 

3 Labour Gazette, August, 1911. The following were the rates of 
wages agreed upon for Carmen : 

One Horse Drivers (25 cwt. Light Singles) 225. per week^ Overtime 
(Heavy Singles) . . 275. 6d. per 

Two Horse Drivers (50 cwt. Light Pairs) 285. f hour. 
,, (Heavy Pairs) . . 315. , ) 


If he has stayed in the business until he is eighteen or 
nineteen, the would-be carman probably remains perman- 
ently at it, since those who drop out usually do so earlier. He 
next procures a man's job, and his further progress depends 
partly on circumstances and largely upon his own abilities. 
His first rise will be to a light single van for which the mini- 
mum wage is now fixed at 22s. a week, and some will remain 
at this. Others will attain to better paid positions and 
even to that of a four-horse carman. The heavy brewers' 
drays require the greatest skill, but their draymen appear to 
be a class apart, and to come chiefly from outside London. 

Other occupations of this kind are recruited in a similar 
way from boys and youths, or sometimes from adult un- 
skilled labourers. The navvies require some skill and a good 
physique, and piece-workers among them make high earnings. 
" Take the navvy," Sir Benjamin Browne told the Poor 
Law Commission, " you want to dig a hole somewhere ; 
if you get a navvy and pay 45. 6d. a day he will dig the 
hole for half the price a labourer would do it for at 35. a 
day, because he knows exactly how to dig a hole and use his 
spade and shovel." 1 In this job the strength needed 
prevents a boy doing the actual work, but on any big 
contract various young labourers are employed, and these 
in time get hold of a spade and so gradually learn. 

The paviour is made in much the same way, as the follow- 
ing statement by the Engineer to a London Borough Council 
shows. " Young fellows start as labourers at 6J^. per hour, 
and if they are smart they will be given a little work to do 
if there is a pressure of work and will be promoted in time 
to the class we call improvers with an immediate rise of 
wages of \d. per hour, and after this rise gradually to the 
full rate." The comparatively high wages that are paid 

Three Horse Drivers 345. per week } Overtime 

Four Horse Drivers 385. ,, Jis.perhr. 

\ Overtime 

/first year 75. ,, [3^. perhr. 

Vanguards j second year .... 8s. ,, j ^d. ,, 

(thereafter . . . . . IDS. ,, ) ^d. ,, 
1 Question 86298. 


in it appear at first sight to prevent the classing of this 
employment as semi-skilled ; but against them must be 
set its seasonal character and the exposure to the weather 
that is involved. 

Mention may also be made of printers' warehousemen 
and cutters. Their work has two branches which are 
often performed by the same person. One consists of 
general warehouse work, and the other of folding and 
cutting paper, and, where magazines are being bound, 
operating the wiring machine. A few firms adopt regular 
methods of teaching, and there are occasional Apprentice- 
ships for short periods and at a comparatively high rate 
of pay. Otherwise the whole thing is quite haphazard. 
Numerous messengers are employed by large printing offices, 
and the smarter of these are put to help the nien and in 
time get on to the bench and do a little cutting and so 
eventually pick up the job. One firm stated, however, that 
it had adopted a form of Apprenticeship owing to the bad 
effect that the more casual kind of employment had upon 
the boys. Warehousemen earn up to 32$. a week and cutters 
in the best firms as much as 365. 

The conditions prevailing in trades where a portion only 
of the workers acquire the whole business, are somewhat 
different and deserve detailed treatment. Sometimes there 
is only a limited demand for the higher grades of labour 
and a far bigger one for the lower, and at others this result 
is caused or accentuated by defective methods of teaching 
and recruiting. Cart and Van Painting provides an instance 
of the former, and House Painting of the latter, each of 
them being in itself a skilled trade, but either requiring, or 
finding room for, a considerable amount of semi-skilled 

In the former the painters proper are assisted by a much 
larger number of brush hands. 1 The latter paint the 
bottom of the vehicle throughout and the body except for 
the final coat or, in the technical phrase, " finishing/' which 

1 A special class of heraldic decorators is engaged upon such 
things as armorial bearings. 


is put on by the painter. He also does the more elaborate 
processes such as toning, glazing and so on. The painter 
gets from S^d. to gd. per hour and the brush hands from 6d. 
to yd., the work as a whole being far more regular than that 
of the house painters in the Building Trades. There is, 
moreover, a very definite division between the two grades. 
Several brush hands are required to keep one painter busy 
and only a few of those who enter the trade can hope to 
reach his position. 

The painters, however, are recruited mainly from the 
brush hands. Apprenticeship is unusual. The boy enters 
as an errand boy and his promotion depends upon his own 
capacity and to some extent upon the size of the shop. 
" One of the two boys in my employ at painting/' said one 
employer, " started like the others as an errand boy and 
gradually got to do the cleaning up of the vans ready for the 
painter, and then got hold of a brush and made himself 
into a very good little brush-hand as he is now." The 
majority of the men do not go further, but remain semi- 
skilled workers. 'So far, therefore, this method is simply 
that of teaching the easier half of a skilled trade, but 
from this point those who are to reach the higher grade 
can gradually work their way up. 1 

There is no such necessary distinction between different 
branches of House Painting, and in it, therefore, it is mainly 
lack of training that keeps certain persons to the less skilled 
portions of the work. In practice house painters fall 
roughly into three grades the highly skilled interior decor- 
ators, mostly of the West End Furnishing Houses, the 
ordinary house painters employed by the larger Builders 
and Contractors and by smaller firms of a good class, and 

1 The boy in question was expected by his employer to go further. 
"If he chooses," the latter added, " to practise with his pencil 
in his spare time, at home, in the dinner hour and so on, and he 
shows he is up to the work, I will give him a chance at lining and 
make him into a painter. But he must show he can use the pencil 
first or the risk will be too great. He will, however, have to go 
elsewhere as an improver to finish, owing to the small size of my 


the casual brush hands engaged upon the rougher work. 

Members of the first class are recruited little if at all from 
among the ordinary house painters. They come mainly 
from the provinces. Such of them as are Londoners are 
trained with very considerable care. Either there is a 
Bound Apprenticeship or they are taken on under their 
fathers. Their rate of pay varies from 9^. per hour up- 
wards and some earn considerably more. In many ways, 
indeed, they resemble a separate trade more nearly than a 
higher grade of labour within a trade, and their numbers 
are a small proportion of the London painters. 

The bulk of these belong to the other two classes. The 
ordinary House Painters reach a fair level of skill and earn 
8%d. or gd. per hour, but are frequently out of work for a long 
time during the winter. Such of them as acquire their 
business in London have usually started as boys to assist 
the painters and make themselves useful, being sometimes 
taken on with their fathers. The learner, therefore, is 
really a young painter's labourer and in time is put to clean 
the walls in preparation for the painting, and after this gives 
the first coat of paint or paints parts of the house where 
appearances do not matter much. Thus in time he becomes 
a painter. The abler of these men ought perhaps to rank 
as skilled workmen, though their wages are lower than 
those of other artisans in the Building Trades and their 
employment less regular, but the less capable must be 
regarded as semi-skilled. 

Below them come a very large number of casual and 
often low-skilled brush hands, who have picked up their 
business anyhow. They can often do little more than the 
roughest and easiest parts of it which are very quickly learnt. 
As a result the trade has become the refuge for the failures 
of nearly every other. Ex-sailors are most frequently 
found in it and often work successfully at it, but almost 
every trade and even unskilled labour contribute recruits 
to it at one time or another. The Distress Committees, for 
instance, find it to be quite a common thing for labourers 
to say that they either could do or had done painting. 


Its seasonal character intensifies the difficulty. There is a 
severe winter slackness and even in bad years two periods 
of very heavy pressure from mid-March to May and in 
August and September. Each lasts about six or eight 
weeks. In London the latter is the busiest of all, and so 
great is the pressure that foremen are often compelled to 
put on any labour they can get, and to keep on any man 
who has the least idea of handling a brush. Thus it is 
not difficult to pick up a slight knowledge of the rougher 
work ; and sufficient to provide a more or less precarious 
living is easily acquired. But the men who do this become 
at best semi-skilled and are often hardly that. Many of 
them do not earn more than from 6J^. to 7^. per hour and 
some of them do not get more than a few days' work in the 
week or a few months in the year. 

The third of the four chief branches of semi-skilled labour 
is made up of those who rank as such less in virtue of manual 
skill, than of the responsibility placed upon them and of 
the honesty and trustworthiness required of them. They 
have to exhibit, therefore, care and steadiness above the 
average, either in addition to, or in place of, such skill as they 
may or may not possess. Hence such employments are 
recruited almost entirely from grown men. The scaff older, 
for instance, not only requires considerable dexterity in 
tying ropes and making knots, but since the safety of a 
number of other men depends upon it, his work has to be 
done with very special care. It is largely in the hands of 
ex-sailors whose experience on ship board peculiarly fits them 
for it. 

Another such employment is that of the drivers and 
stokers of stationary engines in factories. When a vacancy 
occurs, an intelligent labourer is selected to fill the position 
of stoker with a rather higher wage than before. If the 
engine-driver's post falls vacant, the stoker will be promoted 
to fill it. Again the crane-driver who has displaced the 
hodman on large buildings has a very responsible post 
when dealing with the large Scotch derricks. Two men and 
a boy are usually in charge, and the chief man's place would 


be filled by the second hand and sometimes the latter's 
by a boy. The practice appears to vary between taking a 
man from outside and promoting a lad. The bigger cranes 
require two or more persons to operate them, and so a 
novice can be started in a less responsible position. All 
these occupations require further of those who follow them 
a certain amount of manual skill. 

Typical, perhaps, of the men who, with little or none of 
this, yet need to possess certain qualities which raise 
them above the level of the ordinary unskilled labourer, are 
the bulk of workers employed inside the chemical factories. 
Their position was admirably described by Mr. Esme 
Howard in Life and Labour of the People. Usually the 
staff of a factory consists of foremen, chemical labourers, 
employed in various parts of the manufacture, and presided 
over by an intermediate grade of leading hands, and yard 
labourers. The chemical labourers form the most impor- 
tant section and are recruited from the best of the yard 
labourers and in their turn recruit the leading hands. 
Care, intelligence and good behaviour are what are required 
of them, and this is even more true of manufacturing drug- 
gists where the effects of a mistake would be much worse. 

" The ordinary chemical labourer," wrote Mr. Howard, " is 
rather to be called disciplined than skilled. . . . When a new 
process is to be tried, the trained chemists superintend its course 
until the foreman or leading hand in charge has become thoroughly 
acquainted with it, and then these men. . . . become responsible 
so long as the process is continued. . . . But the great body of 
labourers need little skill and acquire no special knowledge ; 
they have only to carry out exactly the orders given. The 
qualities necessary for a good chemical labourer are, as for a 
soldier, attention and obedience, and the closeness of the parallel 
is curiously shown by the preference given in some factories to 
men who have been in the army." * 

In short, as Mr. Howard pointed out, they are trained 

if not skilled. The returns given in Life and Labour of the 

People show their wages for a full week to have been from 

245. to 265. in 1892, and their total earnings one week 

1 Life and Labour of the People, vol. vi. p. 100. 


with another as much as 305. owing to the amount of 
overtime that is frequently worked. 

Finally, there are those who have definite positions as 
the assistants of an artisan, such as plumbers' mates, 
hammermen and railway stokers. Detailed description 
of them is not required, since the method by which a youth 
becomes a good mate or hammerman was fully dealt with 
in the last Chapter the help of a relative or friend, the 
years of light work in a small shop, and then, with growing 
strength, the job in a big one at a lower rate till he becomes 
a qualified assistant at the full standard wage. On the 
Railways this progression may be even more regular. A 
youth starts first as an engine-cleaner at 145. a week and at 
eighteen or later is promoted to be a third or fourth class 
stoker getting i8s, a week and rising to 2is., and from 
this gradually reaches a better position, the maximum wage 
of a fireman being on most railways 275. a week. 

Semi-skilled labour thus falls into four classes, viz., 
specialized labour with a high level of skill within a very 
narrow range, unspecialized labour, with perhaps nearly as 
wide a range as the mechanic but with a far lower level, the 
men whose work requires great care, attention and steadi- 
ness with or without a modicum of manual dexterity, 
and the trained assistants of the artisans. Semi-skilled 
labour is on the whole on the increase and is tending, particu- 
larly in the case of the specialized processes and of a few 
others such as cranemen, to displace men either from the 
higher or lower grades. The first of the four classes is 
attracting the most attention both in this and in other 
respects. Its growth has certainly been rapid and it is 
worth considering how far its increase or that of semi- 
skilled workmen of other kinds has reduced the demand for 
the artisan. 

The common assumption that there has been an absolute 
displacement of the latter and a net loss of skill among the 
manual workers as a whole, cannot be accepted without 
large reservations. In some cases there has been an actual 
improvement in skill where the unskilled labourer and not 


the mechanic has been replaced, as the hodman has been 
by the crane-driver. In the Engineering Trades, too, the 
specialization upon particular machines appears to be 
producing a similar effect. Sir Benjamin Browne, for 
instance, has expressed the opinion that in it there is getting 
less and less room for the absolutely unskilled labourer, 
" for we specialize more every day." 1 The subdivision of 
skilled work, therefore, is to a great extent balanced by this 
taking over by semi-skilled machine-minders of much of 
the heaviest and least skilled drudgery. 

Secondly, most of the reduction in the demand for skilled 
labour is a relative rather than an absolute one. In amount 
it has as a rule not decreased but increased, whilst the semi- 
skilled workers have multiplied more rapidly. In other 
words the one has expanded at a normal, and the other 
at an abnormal rate. This may not be true of the Boot 
Trade, where there appears to have been a direct substitu- 
tion of the lower for the higher grade, nor of certain branches 
of leather manufacture in which some of the processes have 
been much simplified. But in Engineering, specialization 
and expansion have normally gone hand in hand. The 
big, prosperous and growing concerns are adopting the 
former, and largely increasing their demand for artisans 
at the same time. Indeed, it is stated on good authority 
that much of the increase in this industry would not have 
been possible without the cheapening that has been brought 
about by these changes. 

Thirdly, no allowance is made for the general rise in the 
level both of skill and wages that can be seen among all 
classes of workpeople. Thus, once more to quote Sir 
Benjamin Browne, " the semi-skilled workman of to-day 
is in many cases as good as the skilled was a quarter of a 
century ago " : 2 and again, in reference to the whole body 
of workpeople, " you will find the wages are getting higher 
and higher and the hours shorter and shorter, and they are 
turning out a better class of work." 3 Thus a redistribution 

1 Poor Law Commission Evidence. Question 86305. 

2 Ibid. Question 86333. 3 f^id. Question 86336. 


between different grades may go hand in hand with an 
improvement in the standard of capacity which each of 
them possesses. 

Finally a reduction in manual dexterity need not mean 
a loss of general ability but merely a change in its character. 
A decrease in this respect may be balanced by an increase 
in mental powers in intelligence, in alertness, in 
adaptability. This subject, however, will be discussed 
more fully later ; but enough has been said to cast doubts 
upon any hasty generalization as to a decline in the skill of 
the manual working classes. 

Semi-skilled employments exert an important influence 
upon the problem of boy labour. Like the skilled trades, 
they require special treatment adapted to their particular 
needs. Whilst, however, separate measures and a separate 
organization are necessary for each of these two grades, yet 
it is essential that they should be co-ordinated. Semi- 
skilled work, moreover, does something to provide an 
escape from one of the great difficulties of our time, that 
of Blind Alley employment ; and in the relations in which 
it stands to the juvenile worker will be found one of the 
clues to the solution of the problem. 

First, there is the fact that the age of entry into it is 
usually later than either into a skilled trade or into boy 
labouring. Some of its branches, therefore, are recruited 
from among adult labourers, and in most others employ- 
ment upon the actual process does not begin till after 
seventeen. Frequently it happens that a lad first spends 
some years as an errand or factory boy, or, as in the Boot 
Trade, at some easy boy's work. But those processes 
which give a permanent occupation are normally recruited 
from youths of seventeen or eighteen, who in other words 
are thus wanted in these trades just at the age when ordinary 
boys' jobs are beginning to fail them. 

Secondly, semi-skilled work is both permanent and easy 
to acquire. It lasts a man for life, provided he has no 
higher ambitions, and in most cases it is not hard to learn. 
Needing only a moderate level of skill, which can be obtained 


in a short time, it is not beset by the same difficulties and 
dangers as a skilled trade. In the latter, just as far more is 
obtained by success, so is the risk of failure the greater. 
Hence a youth of seventeen or eighteen who is not yet 
provided for can be placed with comparative readiness 
in semi-skilled labour, which does provide a definite liveli- 
hood for those who follow it, even if this is only on the 
basis of a moderate standard of living. 

The semi-skilled employments, therefore, since in most 
cases they do not begin till a later age, and are able to 
give a permanent occupation when they do, are well fitted 
to act as the antidote to the Blind Alley. At seventeen or 
eighteen a break comes in the life of many boys. Boy labour 
ends, men's labour has not yet been secured ; and the change 
of job has to be made. At present, however, too many 
Blind Alleys are not connected, as they might be, with situa- 
tions in semi-skilled processes that are waiting to be filled ; 
and the problem is to link up the one with the other, and 
to make the passage between them easy and not, as it is 
now, difficult and likely to be missed. 

Much semi-skilled work, therefore, is well fitted to achieve 
this purpose. In some cases where the boys' jobs and the 
semi-skilled jobs are in the same factory, this is sometimes 
done now if only in a rough and ready way, and it is capable 
of considerable extension. Thus boys working semi-auto- 
matic machines could often be promoted to better paid 
jobs, were it not that their failure to stick to their work 
frequently prevents this. Such dovetailing, however, can 
perhaps be best illustrated by a description of a large leather 
factory in which efforts are already directed to the promotion 
of its boys as they grow up. As a result the firm is almost 
self-sufficing, and its vacancies are nearly all filled from 
within it. 

It is engaged in manufacturing light leather out of sheep's 
and goats' pelts or what is known in the trade as " split 
leather," leather which is used for hat bands, pocket books, 
photo frames and so on. When first brought into the factory 
the pelts go to the lime pits in which they are left to soak, 


usually for about three weeks. The work is let out to 
" gangs " consisting of a head man or " lime jobber " and 
labourers ; and to fill vacancies among the former, a suitable 
man is promoted from another department. The labourers 
start at about twenty years of age, and are gradually initiated 
into the work. The pelts are then taken to the " fleshers " 
by whom the flesh still adhering to the inner hide is removed 
with a sharp two-handled knife. This is a skilled job and 
boys are apprenticed for three years to the Fleshers' Union 
and put under the charge of a workman as its representative. 1 
The splitting or separating of the inner from the outer 
pelt, follows. 2 It is done on machines, each worked by a 
man and a youth. In this firm the men are recruited 
from their helpers, of whom, however, there is of necessity 
a considerable surplus. 

The pureman next treats the skins with bark or other 
substances preliminary to the actual tanning. Here, as in 
lime-jobbing, the work is done by a headman and labourers. 
The two head tanners are the only skilled men in the Tanning 
Department, and are assisted by numerous men and boys, 
the latter doing such preliminary jobs as cleaning the pelts 
and the former carrying out the main processes under the 
direction of the tanners. These labourers are mostly un- 
skilled and are recruited from the boys. Intelligent men 
are raised from other departments to fill vacancies among 
both the head puremen and the head tanners. Dyeing too 
is more or less unskilled and is mostly done by lads, a few 
of whom are promoted to be strikers-out. 

The leather, coming wet from the dyers, is apt to shrink 
and needs to be smoothed and levelled out to its full length. 
So the wet hides are laid upon a table and forced out again 
to their full size, and thus the moisture is gradually got out 
of them. This is a semi-skilled process, performed by 
men, and is known in the trade as striking-out. 
The leather, being still damp and apt to crumple, is next 
strained by being tacked on to boards. Care has now to 

1 As described in Ch. IV. Supra. 

2 As described in Ch. VI. Supra. 


be taken to stretch it to its full dimensions. Otherwise 
speed in working is the prime necessity. When a vacancy 
occurs, a boy or youth is put to it and soon works as quickly 
as the men. 

Last comes the finishing, by which the glaze or varnish 
or, in some cases, a grain is given to the leather. For most 
of this work machinery is used : but the final grain is put 
on by hand. Hand finishing requires considerable skill, 
and machine finishing is a good semi-skilled job ; but to 
each of them learners are carefully brought up. They are 
usually selected from the firm's errand boys, the brighter 
ones going to the hand process. The others are put at the 
back of a machine and gradually work their way round to 
the front. 

Methods of production vary so much in this trade that no 
one firm can be regarded as typical of all, but this combina- 
tion of a number of branches, involving different levels of 
skill, is common in the leather factories. Thus in the firm 
just considered we get skilled work directly recruited by 
boys engaged to learn it, processes employing a surplus of 
boys, among which are both Partial and Total Blind Alleys, 
and processes that require few of them and are capable of 
absorbing some from the other departments. These latter 
include employments of the intermediate grade, like Machine 
Finishing and Striking-out, and unskilled ones, such as 
those of the labourers in Tanning, Straining and Lime- 
Jobbing. Lastly, there are a few higher positions, to 
which the more intelligent men can hope to attain. 

A surplus of boys in some departments, therefore, can be 
provided for in others, as to a great extent they are already, 
and the better firms at least make a special effort to bring 
this about. Thus many of those who come in as lads 
can work their way up to some sort of a permanency. 
The firm in question stated that " we find room for a good 
portion of our boys ; but a part of them are so rough that we 
cannot do anything with them, and they won't ever be 
more than unskilled labourers and do not want to be." 
The trade contains a sufficient variety of employments to 



offset at least partially the Blind Alley character of some 
of them ; and undoubtedly more could be done in this way, 
especially if employers could be provided with more suitable 
labour. Moreover even where the whole process is not 
carried through in one factory, the necessary arrangements 
to transfer boys from one firm to another should not be 
very difficult, whilst there is the further possibility that 
the boy labour of one trade could be dovetailed on to the 
semi-skilled adult labour of another. 

It is in these directions, therefore, that semi-skilled work 
is to a great extent the antidote to Blind Alley jobs, since 
it often provides means of employment just about the time 
when a large number of youths are seeking for it. But it 
has its own special dangers. One phase of the Problem 
of Boy Labour consists in failure to provide permanent 
employment, and to this every grade is liable, and the semi- 
skilled one not the least. For it may lead to frequent 
failures to acquire an occupation. Many semi-skilled j obs are 
quickly and some of them quite easily learnt ; and so special 
arrangements for teaching them are seldom made or needed. 
They are, therefore, as easy to leave as they are to enter, 
and many boys and youths throw them up on the slightest 
pretext and go elsewhere, so that, when they come to man- 
hood, they have failed to attain capacity to do any definite 
thing. Even in the skilled trades this is common enough, 
but in them there are some checks upon it. The difficulties 
of learning may dishearten a boy at first, but they at least 
do something, both then and later, to keep him to his work, 
and agreements and understandings also assist thereto. 
In semi-skilled work the latter hardly exist, and the ease 
with which it can be picked up makes a boy think that 
fresh work is always to be found. So he becomes careless, 
tries many things, settles at no one of them and thus learns 
nothing properly. Often he learns nothing at all. 

The second danger is that these processes will absorb 
boys who are capable of something better, as has already 
been described in the case of plumbers 'mates and assistants ; 
and when a boy of ability enters one of them and stays 


there all his life the result is a double economic loss. He 
himself has to be content with a lower standard of skill and 
livelihood than his capacities warrant, and the community 
loses by the waste of his powers on lower-grade work. At 
present there is little to prevent this result and many causes 
to produce it. 

To sum up, therefore, semi-skilled labour has un- 
doubtedly the special advantages that its actual pro- 
cesses generally require a deficiency of young boys and 
that it provides a definite occupation for life. Thus it 
could be made to act as an antidote to the Blind Alley. 
It has also its special dangers. The ease with which it can 
be learnt has caused the teaching of it to be left to look after 
itself, and so learners are far more likely than in the skilled 
trades to run wild and learn nothing. Secondly, there is 
the danger that those who are capable of better things will 
enter and remain in a semi-skilled job. 

Organization is required, therefore, both to utilize 
its merits and to avoid its dangers, and it is in con- 
nexion with the provision of this that skilled and semi- 
skilled employments come into their closest relationship. 
Their problems differ, but an organization is needed 
which shall embrace both. In each case the right boy 
has to be put into the right job, and prevented from 
going to an unsuitable one ; and those who are most 
capable of skilled work should, so far as possible, have the 
preference for it. Those below this level, or those for whom 
the skilled trades cannot find room, are marked out to be 
distributed among the semi-skilled jobs, according to their 
capacity and inclination. For besides the wider distinction 
between the different grades, there are narrower gradations 
of skill within them. Finally, industry requires, and is likely 
to continue to require in the future, much unskilled labour, 
and this should be set aside for boys and men whose capacity, 
relatively at least, is no more than equal to it. 

The boy, therefore, has to be fitted to the job, and 
though this end can only be gradually achieved, a start 
has already been made. Thanks to the Labour Ex- 


changes and other agencies, more are being put into 
suitable positions than before, and still more and more 
will be in the future as their organization is perfected. 
The further this work is carried the easier will it be to 
extend it. But this is not all. For it is necessary that 
those who go to semi-skilled and unskilled labour no less 
than the skilled artisan shall be made each in his own 
position into good workmen steady, disciplined, and 
intelligent. Not only must a boy be put to a job, but 
he must be kept at it and prevented throwing up one 
after another at his own sweet will. That is to say, we 
have to organize boy labour, first by putting boys in their 
right positions and then by enabling and, if necessary, com- 
pelling them to make the best of themselves in them. To 
do this is one great problem of semi-skilled labour, as it is 
of other grades ; and arising out of it is that of using these 
jobs to their fullest extent to meet and remove, as they 
can do, the dangers of Blind- Alley employment. 


Methods Actually in Existence Reasons for Subdivision of them 
that is adopted Difficulty of Estimating Numbers who learn 
under Service or Migration Numbers in Following-Up, and the 
Semi-Skilled Trades Relative Position of Service and Migra- 
tion Chapter mainly concerned with them Need for separate 
consideration of Formal and Informal Service Learnerships 
Necessary Qualities of a good system of teaching Regularity : 
Variety The Indenture Its Advantages Bad Results of 
its Absence Objections to it in certain trades Causes of 
Difficulty Discontented Apprentices Informal Service and 
the Right of Dismissal or of Leaving Modicum of teaching 
essential as a result Its Elasticity Support for both Methods 
To be successful Formal Apprenticeship should be general 
Trouble caused by difficulty of breaking Indenture Means, 
and Existing Instances, of facilitating this Fourth Parties 
to Indentures : Skilled Employment Associations, Juvenile 
Advisory Committees Abandonment of the Premium Causes 
of this -Survival for Special Reasons Attitude towards 
Apprenticeship when it is Universal or General ; the Printing 
Trades Where it is not; the Building Trades Its value in 
setting up a Standard of Teaching. 

Migration compared with service of any kind Its Variety 
and Lack of Regularity Its Merits Higher Earnings Afforded 
Value to poor but able boys Its Necessity Its Disadvan- 
tages -Throws too much responsibility upon the boy 
Irregular employment in trades where it is common In itself 
makes changes of job inevitable Boy left without control, 
when it is most needed Teaching as a rule less good than 
under Service Control though non-existent is even more 
necessary Organization required Summary of Methods 
Tendency of " mixture of methods " to make it difficult to get 
the best out of any of them Need and means of reorganizing 

The Other Methods Following-Up Its Peculiarities and 
Dangers Picking-Up Features of training for Semi- Skilled 

The Four Methods require to be organized in co-operation 
as well as individually. 



BEFORE considering the value of the various existing 
methods of acquiring a trade, it will be well to recapitulate 
briefly what they are. Four main divisions may be distin- 
guished, namely, Regular Service, Migration and Following- 
up, in the case of Skilled Work, and the Picking-up of 
Semi-skilled Trades. These may again be subdivided as 
follows : 

A. Regular Service. 

Formal i. Bound Apprenticeship. 
Informal 2. Definite Verbal Agreement. 

,, 3. Employment during Good Behaviour. 

,, 4. Working and Learning. 

B. Migration. 

i. Generally or Largely Adopted in a Trade. 
2 . The Result of Misconduct by the Employer 

or the Boy. 
3. Chance openings taken advantage of. 

Between these two methods lies a new one that is growing 
in importance : Short Service followed by Migration, where 
a boy serves for a few years and comes out of his time a 
good improver. 

C. Following-up. 

1. Where a Mate assisting a Single Mechanic 

acquires a trade. 

2. Where boys working in a squad rise to fill 

men's jobs. 

D. Picking-up of Semi-skilled Trades. 

1. Trades where a high level of narrowly 

specialized skill is required. 

2. Trades requiring only a moderate level of skill, 

but of a wider range. 

3. Trades in which special care and responsibility 

are needed. 

4. Semi-skilled Assistants of Mechanics. 

Thus, in each case a different method of subdivision has 
to be adopted. With Regular Service it is based upon 


the difference in the various kinds of agreement or contract 
under which a boy works, and with Migration upon the 
reasons which induce him to learn in this way, whilst with 
Following-up it depends upon whether he works with one 
man or several, and with semi-skilled trades upon the kind 
of skill or service that is required of him. 

Secondly, with Service and Migration, one sometimes 
predominates markedly whilst the other is only occasionally 
found. Among compositors and stereotypers, Formal 
Apprenticeship is almost universal ; and among wood- 
working machinists and French polishers there is not very 
much Regular Service. Often again, one method may be 
the normal rule, whilst the other has a smaller but still 
definite place. Thus Service is usual, but not unchallenged 
in Mechanical Engineering and Silversmithing, and so per- 
haps, if only the wholesale trade of East London is considered, 
is Migration in Cabinet-Making. Thirdly, the two may be 
more evenly divided, as in Joinery, and perhaps in the 
making of leather goods. On the other hand, the third 
and fourth methods are usually confined to definite trades 
or branches of trades, and in them cover the whole ground. 

The extent to which these different methods prevail 
varies so enormously from trade to trade, and is so largely 
a matter of guess work, that any attempt to estimate the 
numbers who depend for their training upon them would 
be practically valueless in the case of Service and Migration, 
but a rough calculation can be made of the workmen affected 
by the other two. Thus, in Greater London, the total 
number including assistants engaged in the chief trades 
that adopt Following-up was in 1911 just over 44,000 and 
in the Rest of England and Wales about 233,000, to which 
workers in Bakeries, 19,014 and 59,716 respectively, ought 
perhaps to be added, since in London at any rate a modified 
form of it is found in them. Boys rise to be Third Hands, 
and the latter to be Second Hands and from them the First 
Hands are recruited. Semi-skilled employments, again, 
including assistants in Following-up totalled about 330,000 
men and boys in Greater London. In all these figures, how- 


ever, an allowance must be made for the employers and 
foremen who were included in the trades concerned, as they 
have not been separately estimated in the Census. 1 

The total number of men and boys engaged in skilled work 
in London '- in KJII has been put at about 482,000, of whom 
Following-up, including Bakery workers, appears to account 
lor about 32,000, leaving some 450,000 in trades acquired 
by Service and Migration. Whilst, however, no useful 
estimate can be obtained of how this number is divided 
between them, sonic general deductions ran safely be 
drawn. l r ormal Apprenticeship plays but a small part 
outside tin' Printing Trades, but the majority of the workers, 
and piokibly a fairly substantial majority, appears to 
learn under some form of Regular Service. It claims the 
allegiance of some very important industries and of a good 
many smaller ones. Its predominance is specially marked 
in the Printing and Kngineering Trades, and somewhat less 
so in tlu' Ait Metal and Instrument group. Moreover, even 
when it is most common. Migration never possesses so clear 
a supremacy as Service often has. In the three groups 
just mentioned, for instance, i! is only in a few branches, 
notably Silversmithing and the making of Electrical 
Machinery, that Migration plays at all an important part. 
Again, where, as in Bookbinding, the bulk of the workers 
are semi-skilled, Regular Service, sometimes in one of its 
more rigid forms, is usual among the minority of skilled men. 

Migration, on the other hand, owes its strong position 
less to marked predominance in a few, than to its presence 
as an important competing method in a large number of, 
industries, It is most prominent in Woodworking and 
P.uilding and in the making of electrical goods, electrical 
machinery and leather goods: but it is doubtful if it is 
clearly predominant over Service except in a few branches 
such as iMvneh Polishing. Mouse Paintiiu; and. perhaps, 
Machine Woodwork. It should be remembered, however, 

1 500 UU.P. I. 

J Thr figures j-.ivrn lor London ivli-r. nnlrss otlirr\\isr sl.itrd, lo 
(iivali-i I , union. 


that the comparison is with all forms of Regular Service. 
If it were with Apprenticeship alone, the result would 
probably be very different. 

The present Chapter wijl attempt to estimate the value 
of all the different methods of acquiring a trade, but will deal 
mainly with Service and Migration. Following-up and 
the modes of teaching in the semi-skilled industries have 
already been considered, and though each has some pecu- 
liarities, what is said of the first two methods largely applies 
to them. A boy who is " following-up " his trade, for 
instance, may have to migrate from firm to firm during the 
process, and will be liable therefore to the dangers of Migra- 
tion, which will be increased, on the one hand, where the 
process is a partial Blind Alley, and decreased, on the other, 
when he starts with continuous regular work for some years 
in a single firm and in a trade that absorbs most of its boys. 

So far Regular Service and Migration has each been 
considered as a single group of methods, the presence or 
absence ol continuous employment having been regarded 
as of sufficient importance to outweigh other differences. 
It is now necessary to subdivide the former into its various 
branches, each with merits and deficiencies of its own. 
Indeed, the less formal methods may almost be said to stand 
midway between Indentured Apprenticeship and Migration, 
and at their best combine many of the advantages ol both 
of them. If, therefore, a general term is required to cover 
all forms ol this informal service the need is perhaps best 
satisfied by the word Learnership. 

Many boys an; now being definitely engaged as learners 
for a period of years, but without any formal agreement, 
and many employers, owing to the trouble which indentures 
involve, are refusing to bind those whom they teach, 
and prefer conditions which reserve to them the right 
of dismissal. 1 In the displacement of Formal Apprentice- 
ship, therefore, Learnerships are playing at least as pro- 

1 The Assistant Manager of a London Exchange said, " Employers 
won't have the system of bound Apprentices. What you do find 
now are learnerships." 


minent a part as is the increase of Migration. Under 
the term, moreover, must be included not merely the 
definite verbal agreement, but employment " during good 
behaviour." Probably also the fourth form, " working and 
learning," can be so described where a firm takes boys in 
this way with the deliberate intention of allowing them to 
learn a trade. Where, however, there is no such intention, 
and boys here and there just happen to learn, the name 
is scarcely appropriate. Perhaps, therefore, unless other- 
wise stated, Learnership is best confined to the second 
and third forms of service. It seems likely, indeed, that 
if an ideal method of training is found, it will consist either 
of a carefully regulated system of Learnerships or in Short 
Service, whether formal or informal, to be followed by 

Among the qualities necessary to a good system of teach- 
ing, two which possess fundamental importance are those of 
" Regularity " and " Variety." In the earliest years of 
his working life it is essential that a boy should work under 
fixed and definite conditions. He requires continuity of 
employment and of teaching and the chance to progress 
steadily, together with systematic care and supervision. 
These qualities may be summed up in the term Regularity, 
and whilst mere employment in a single firm does not 
guarantee them, it is usually a necessary preliminary to 
obtaining them. So far then as they are concerned, condi- 
tions under Regular Service are generally favourable. But 
a boy also needs to master different methods of working 
and the different kinds and qualities of work, and so the 
experience necessary to him is often wider than a single 
shop is capable of giving. This is the quality of Variety, 
in which the advantage often rests with the Method of 
Migration. A certain number of firms satisfy both require- 
ments, but many more cannot, and therefore the choice of 
the best method depends largely upon individual circum- 
stances. Indeed, it is in provision to meet problems such 
as these that our present industrial organization is most 


The comparative merits of Apprenticeship and Learner- 
ship must first be considered, and with this question is 
bound up that of the Indenture and Premium. On a 
superficial view the advantages of the former are obvious, 
since, where its conditions are properly observed, it does 
put the teaching and the control of the boy upon the most 
regular basis, and ensures the best possible care and atten- 
tion. Above all, it emphasises the relations of em- 
ployer and apprentice as those of teacher and learner. 
At its best, therefore, Apprenticeship does make for that 
insistence on the essential importance of teaching, which 
was the finest feature of the Elizabethan system. Really 
to make the best of it, however, it should be applied, as it 
very seldom is, uniformly throughout a trade ; but even 
where it is not, it does sometimes put some check both on 
the boy and the employer. In too many such cases, how- 
ever, it fails to do so. 

Informal Service, however, must be judged by its suc- 
cesses and failures taken together, and on the whole the 
proportion of the latter is likely to be smaller under Appren- 
ticeship. Where there is no formal tie, a boy is more likely 
to leave to get higher wages or to be dismissed for slack 
trade or other reasons. Moreover he often thinks he is 
earning more than he is paid for certain work, making no 
allowance for the expense and trouble of teaching him, and 
either obtains a rise from his employer or moves to another 
firm in order to do so. But if he is always to secure his full 
immediate value in this way, his master can less well 
afford to teach him better work and he gets less chance to 
improve. In fact, in many cases the employer will have so 
to regulate his work as to secure a full return from it week 
by week, and cannot, as under Apprenticeship, afford an 
immediate loss for the sake of a higher future gain. 
For, if after being taught part of a trade, the boy is going to 
be attracted elsewhere by better money, the employer must 
act accordingly and keep him at the work which he can do 
well. It is only fair to add that in many trades most of 
these tacit agreements are fairly carried out on both sides. 


A boy does not leave a decent master nor a master dismiss 
a satisfactory boy ; but there are a good many instances 
to the contrary. 

Moreover, under these conditions both employer and 
learner are far more apt to regard his employment as that of 
a labourer rather than a learner, and for these reasons the 
displacement of Apprenticeship is lamented, and its re- 
storation suggested, in the Art Metal and Instrument Trades. 
Further, all boys do not start with a preference for 
employments giving the highest wages, but many on the 
contrary are determined to learn at all costs. 1 Under the 
informal system, however, the habit of looking first to 
what can be earned is apt to grow up gradually, and having 
caused a lad to move once or twice, it finally leads him to do 
so for any or every reason and at length almost without 

Such are the respects in which Apprenticeship possesses 
the greatest advantage ; but there is much to be said for 
the less formal Service, and it obtains considerable support. 
Many firms in the Building and Engineering Trades are 
refusing to bind boys and are substituting employment 
" during good behaviour " or an informal agreement. " The 
boys get taught," said one of the latter, " in exactly the 
same way as an apprentice would be, but we will not bind 
ourselves to teach him." The chief objection to Appren- 
ticeship springs from the attitude and behaviour of the 
boys themselves. Being bound for from five to seven 
years, as the case may be, so that they cannot be got rid of, 
they presume upon this, feeling that their position is secure 
and that they have plenty of time before them. Some, 
as a result, are openly lazy or unruly ; more simply take 
things easily, and do not bother themselves, and thus only 
realize their position as the end of their time approaches. 
This source of trouble is quite common, and many of those 
concerned declare that " apprentices are more trouble 
than they are worth/' and that in their last year or two, 

1 Sometimes they and their parents will even accept unnccercarily 
low wages in return for an offer to teach a trade 


when they should be compensating their employers for the 
loss hitherto involved in teaching them, they are barely 
earning their wages. 

The difficulty is mainly caused by the fact that the 
ordinary form of Indenture does not permit the dismissal 
of an apprentice except at considerable inconvenience, 
and after the trouble of taking him to the County Court. 
In the old days, before the right of an employer to thrash 
an unruly one had lapsed, it was different ; but now without 
the power of dismissal there is no easy means of controlling 
him. On the other hand, a lad may be tied for years to a 
master who is failing to teach him, and where the use of 
Apprenticeship is spasmodic, it assists unscrupulous firms 
to exploit their boys. 

Again, where alternative methods of learning are avail- 
able, the apprentice may see that others who are learning 
his trade, perhaps even in the same firm, are being paid 
more than he is. As a result he becomes discontented and 
lazy, and only does an amount of work which he considers 
to correspond to the wages he is receiving. Hence he comes 
out of his time less efficient than he might have been, and 
ought to be, and suffers accordingly. One foreman, a 
very successful teacher, told me that he used to say to his 
boys : " Never mind if you are earning for your employer 
more than he pays you. You have to look to the years in 
the future and learn all you can about your trade. So 
the more you earn for your employer now the more you will 
earn for yourself when you are a man." But many boys 
do not see this, to their own and others' loss. To this, too, 
must be added, so far as the employers are concerned, the cost 
of bench room, of spoilt material and of loss of time and 
temper by foremen and men, this last by no means a small 
item, and there is little cause for wonder if they prefer to 
teach their boys under less formal conditions, which afford 
them a greater degree of control. 

One advantage of Learnerships, therefore, consists in 
the retention of the valuable right of dismissal. In good 
firms it is selglom or never exercised. The mere threat is 


sufficient, and even that is not always required. The boys 
know that their employment, wages and chance of learning 
depend on their behaviour and progress, and for this reason 
are on the alert to make the very best of themselves, and 
for many it is good that they should be so situated. Instead 
of being careless and lazy, they have every inducement to 
do their best, and in such circumstances a learner will often 
come out of his time a better workman than a boy of 
equal ability who has been a bound apprentice. 

Secondly, trouble as regards wages is more easily avoided. 
In Apprenticeships they are frequently a fixed amount for 
each year irrespective of the progress and conduct of the 
boy, and learners are more often paid "what they are worth. " 
In this way the payment of the latter can be more easily 
arranged so as to give them every inducement to do their best 
and yet not cause them to sacrifice their chances for immedi- 
ate high earnings. Similar methods are sometimes adopted 
in the case of apprentices, notably, as in the Printing 
Trades, by the payment of good conduct money as an 
addition to wages : but with them a fixed or unvarying 
rate is a frequent cause of difficulty. 

Again, Formal Apprenticeship is very well calculated to 
enable a good employer to make the best of a good boy ; but 
at times it fails very badly, either assisting exploitation 
by unscrupulous masters or producing lazy or incom- 
petent apprentices. With no binding agreement, on the 
other hand, the former has at any rate to teach suffi- 
ciently well to induce learners to stay, since otherwise they 
can always leave and go elsewhere. They must reach, 
therefore, at least a certain minimum standard, whereas 
under Apprenticeship they may be in a position to teach 
much or little, according to their inclination. Similarly 
a boy has to make sufficient progress to induce the employer 
to keep him Jand to avoid dismissal. By the necessities 
of the case, therefore, he has both to be taught, and himself 
to learn, at least moderately well. Thus the worst failures 
of Apprenticeship are avoided. 

Finally, Informal Service, being far more elastic, is better 


suited to those trades in which circumstances necessitate a 
change of firm after a few years. Not very many will bind 
for less than five and often they require more. Thus an 
informal contract is less likely to stand in a boy's way, 
either when he has learnt all that a shop can teach him or 
when he sees a real chance of bettering himself. The 
master cannot legally keep him ; there are fewer formalities 
to be gone through ; and a good firm will usually be willing 
to help him to improve his position, when the proper time 

Both methods receive considerable support. The Printing 
Trades are almost solid for Apprenticeship, the Engineering, 
Building, and, on the whole, the Art Metal and Instrument 
Trades favour the less formal arrangement. The latter, 
therefore, appears to cover a wider area. Excess of restric- 
tion in one case must be set against deficiency of it in the 
other. On the one hand, Learnerships may limit the power 
of an employer to teach his boys thoroughly or cause him 
to dismiss them for slackness ; on the other, they may lead 
them to spoil their own chances by not sticking to their work. 
In several ways, therefore, the learners are rendered 
liable to long spells of unemployment, and these are perhaps 
the worst danger which a lad can incur. 1 Against this is 
the fact that the binding character of an indenture is apt 
to produce lack of energy and application on his part or 
to lead to his exploitation by unscrupulous employers. 

These last difficulties, however, are far more marked in 
trades where Apprenticeship 'has to compete with other 
methods. Where, as in Printing, it is almost the universal 
rule, they are far less serious. Its success in its present 
form, therefore, depends largely on the possibility of apply- 
ing it consistently throughout a trade. Where this is not 
possible, there are two alternatives, either to regularize 
still further the engagement and teaching of learners or 
to simplify the form of indenture and make more easily 
available the right of breaking it for misconduct on either 

1 Thus one Instructor said : "I advise a boy to put up with 
almost anything rather than that." 


side. In this connexion the question of Indentures 
and Premiums may well be considered a little more 

The main trouble is caused by the difficulty of breaking 
an Apprenticeship. To do this, at the present time, resort 
to a magistrate is required. Legally it may be possible to 
avoid this by a special clause in the indenture ; but the fact 
is not generally known and the law on the point is so vague 
that reference to a jury would probably be necessary in 
any case. 1 The boy, therefore, must be brought up in the 
County Court, from which employers are deterred by the 
time, expense and publicity involved, the more so as the 
chances of a favourable verdict are not good. Most magis- 
trates, weighing the danger of ruining a boy's career 
against some temporary loss and inconvenience to the 
employer, will, except in cases of the most flagrant miscon- 
duct, give the former the benefit of the doubt, or, at least, 
will very strongly recommend that he should be given 
another chance. Many employers, therefore, prefer to 
make the best of a bad bargain rather than resort to the 

The remedy lies in facilitating the breaking of inden- 
tures, and even now a few firms actually modify them in 
this direction. In one case a clause was inserted to make 
the engagement " terminable by a week's notice on either 
side," and in another to make employment depend "on 
good behaviour," whilst in a third the indenture was 
drawn up, but not actually signed by the firm till the 
expiry of the Apprenticeship. These devices, however, 
have their disadvantages. Where, as with the firms just 
quoted, an employer's methods are above suspicion, they 
are perfectly fair conditions ; but unless the boy has corre- 
sponding rights, they might, if generally adopted, be abused 
by unscrupulous men, though, as a rule, it is easier for him 
to get out of an unsatisfactory bargain than for his master. 
The latter, indeed, is frequently in the dilemma that he may 
be saddled for years with an unsatisfactory lad if he does 
1 See J. M. Myers' The Law Relating to Apprentices. 


bind, or that he may lose a good one, just as he is becoming 
valuable, if he does not. 

There is one arrangement, however, which is not open 
to the same objections, namely that utilized by the Appren- 
ticeship and Skilled Employment Associations. They 
make themselves a fourth party to the indentures which 
they bring about and retain the power of cancelling them 
upon due cause being shown by either of the other parties 
to them. Further, their knowledge of each case, incom- 
plete though it may be, is greater than that of a magistrate. 
They can thus prevent the worst cases of exploitation and 
set right quickly those small troubles and misunderstandings 
which otherwise cause so much harm, whilst in the last 
resort their power of breaking the indenture is equally 
accessible to both sides. These powers they have used with 
good effect, and they might with advantage be given to the 
Juvenile Advisory Committees of the Labour Exchanges, 
and thus made to cover a far wider area. Some such exten- 
sion, indeed, seems to be the best way of meeting the 
difficulty, though the right of utilizing this process would 
have to be limited to Apprenticeships made through an 
Exchange or other recognized agency. 

Unlike the indenture, the payment of premiums has 
to a great extent been abandoned, and in many cases their 
survival is largely the result of chance or accident. Except in 
one or two trades where they are retained for special reasons, 
the great bulk of employers do not ask for them and even 
refuse to take them. Thus a very large firm of Builders 
said : " We are prepared to take a boy and do what we 
can to teach him, but, owing to the changed conditions of 
the present day, we always refuse to take a man's money 
for doing so." The reference was mainly to the influence 
of machine production, but the statement applies equally 
to the tendency of modern industry to replace a contract 
to teach by a wage contract for work done. Having 
abandoned the premium and paying higher wages as well, 
the employers now undertake rather to give "opportunity 
to learn," and it is a common practice to take shop or 


factory boys with " a chance to learn the trade/' Another 
reason for refusing, or at least not asking for, premiums is a 
result of the trouble which those who have paid one often 
cause. It is significant, too, that in Printing, in spite of the 
general survival of Apprenticeship, the taking of them is 
strongly discountenanced by nearly all good offices. Else- 
where they are usually returned in increased wages or in 
the form of other privileges, and are not as a rule required 
in the case of sons of the workmen employed by a firm. 
One very large concern, indeed, keeps all its openings for 
the latter and demands a large payment from others, 
mainly in order to discourage outside applications. 

There are, however, special circumstances in which 
premiums are taken. Thus, there is the articled appren- 
tice, the son of a manufacturer, merchant or professional 
man, who pays perhaps 200 or 300 in order to fit himself 
to become an employer. Again, in some large firms, in 
addition to learning a trade, the premiumed apprentices 
are put through the Draughtsman's Office and perhaps 
given a general insight into the business. Many of them 
are sons of foremen and leading hands. Other shops never 
ask for a premium, but if the indentures are made by a City 
Company or Apprenticeship Charity, 1 and carry a premium 
with them, they will accept it ; and a cause of com- 
plaint against some Apprenticeship Associations is that 
they have paid one with their boys to firms who otherwise 
would never have dreamed of demanding it. 

More frequently, however, the payment is made in return 
for special privileges, as by the Jewish Board of Guardians 
to compensate the employer for excusing the boy from 
work on the Jewish Sabbath. Skilled Employment Com- 
mittees stipulate in their indentures for time to attend 
Technical Classes during working hours, and special induce- 
ments are sometimes offered in order to place a physically 
defective, or even an unsatisfactory, boy. The premium- 
hunter and the exploiter who regard these payments as a 

1 In one case a firm coming into possession of such a premium 
handed it over to the boy's father to buy him tools. 


useful source of income need not be further described. They 
must not be confused with that class of small shops which 
honestly carry out their contract and teach their apprentices 
well, but insist upon a premium, though usually a small 
one. Taken as a whole, indeed, premiums are not 
sufficiently general to influence either way the value of 
Formal Apprenticeship. 

Before leaving this matter, it is interesting to compare 
the general attitude towards it in trades like Printing, where 
it is almost the only method in use, with that which is found 
in others, where it is far from common. In the former its 
working meets with general approval both from employers 
and employed. A certain number of complaints there must 
be, but they are far fewer than in other trades. More than 
one of the men's leaders, indeed, informed me that there 
was little reason to complain of the way in which the boys 
were taught, whilst the employers do far more than in 
most industries to encourage attendance at Trade and 
Technical Classes. Much of the credit for this belongs 
to the Trade Unions concerned and in particular to the Lon- 
don Society of Compositors which has established in the 
biggest offices " chapel committees " to look after the inter- 
ests of the apprentices and to ensure their fair treatment. 
These trades, it is true, are in some ways well suited by 
Apprenticeships, but the fact remains that masters, fore- 
men and men alike agree as to the general excellence of the 
teaching. Such abuses as exist are neither serious nor 
widespread and are diminishing rather than increasing. 
Nor do the masters complain of the conduct of apprentices 
in the way that is frequent elsewhere. There is, in short, 
a general desire to uphold the system and all parties to it 
appear to show unusual readiness to meet each other's 

Very different is the state of affairs in the Building Trades, 
in which, with one possible exception, Formal Apprentice- 
ships are not numerous, whilst in many firms they have been, 
or are being, replaced by employment " during good be- 
haviour." The employers complain of the behaviour of 


the boys, and the workmen of the employers, and the 
apprentices themselves are ' discontented. Nor do the 
results appear to be at all good. Frequently apprentices 
turn out less well than those who have not been bound and 
indentures are apt to be used for purposes of exploitation. 
Nor do the alternative methods give real satisfaction. 
Under them also boys fail to learn properly and employers 
complain that they go off elsewhere just as they are becom- 
ing useful. In Printing universal Apprenticeship sets up 
a common standard and a common rule, and the standard 
is a high one. Here spasmodic Apprenticeship completely 
fails to do anything of the sort, and it is to be feared that 
it is being abandoned by firms of good class and getting 
more and more confined to those of a less desirable type. 

The value of Apprenticeship lies not in its mere existence 
nor in its form and rules, but in the definite standard of 
teaching and conduct which it enforces upon teacher and 
taught in its application to Industrial Training of what Mr. 
and Mrs. Sidney Webb have called the " device of the 
common rule," which in this case is a tacit understanding 
rather than a definite regulation. Still, where this exists, 
it is none the less enforced, since it creates a Public Opinion 
in a trade to which the normal firm conforms. There is a 
known and accepted standard upon which each Apprentice- 
ship is tacitly based, and where there is such a thing, those 
who depart from it are more quickly detected and more 
successfully checked, and abuses, being more clearly seen, 
are rectified with far greater ease. Where, however, one 
man takes bound apprentices, a second learners and a third 
improvers, things are different. What is perfectly fair 
under one method may be grossly unfair in another, but 
such unfairness is less easy to detect or stop, because there 
is no one accepted standard, by reference to which it can 
be measured. Again, this standardization of teaching has 
its value in keeping before both parties, and before the boy 
most of all, the fact that he is there to learn. There is no 
alternative method by which he can earn more but learn 
less, and so the idea of learnership is insisted upon. Just 


because it fails to set any standard, therefore, the value 
of spasmodic Apprenticeship is comparatively slight, and 
to get the best of any system universal enforcement of 
it is needed throughout nearly the whole of a trade. It 
should be added that if it is sufficiently general Informal 
Service can similarly set up a standard. This appears to be 
the case with the Verbal Agreements in Engineering. Such 
a standard, indeed, will have to be less definite and cannot 
in the nature of things be so systematically enforced. 

As contrasted with Migration, however, both Formal and 
Informal Service possess in a high degree the fundamental 
merit of Regularity. This is especially true of Formal 
Apprenticeship where employment is not merely regular 
de facto but subject to fixed conditions. Against this must 
be set the disadvantage arising from insufficient variety, 
which is perhaps most marked under an Indenture, since 
its terms are the most difficult to alter. Learnership is far 
more elastic and at its best combines both these fundamental 
necessities, whilst, under Migration, the gain in variety is 
often more than counterbalanced by its irregularity. Still 
even with Informal Service there may be some loss in 
variety, though not a very great one. 

As a method of teaching, Migration has many advan- 
tages, and for the abler boys it may even prove to be the 
best of all, provided always that they are properly looked 
after by their parents. On the other hand, it is more than 
proportionally dangerous to those of less ability. Its 
supreme merit is that, under ordinarily favourable circum- 
stances, it gives great variety of work. The boy who has 
moved about from one firm to another has seen far more of 
the trade and its methods than he who has stuck to a single 
one ; and many acquire greater self-reliance from working 
under such conditions. Similarly it possesses perhaps to 
a greater extent even than Informal Regular Service, the 
merit of making a boy depend on himself for his advance- 
ment, and so more alert, wide-awake and attentive. For 
under Regular Service his place is secured for him provided 
he does sufficient to keep it, but the Improver has not only 


to do this but at the proper time to find himself a new one 
and to secure for himself a position that will give him better 
work and higher wages. 

Again, his earnings will probably be greater whilst he is 
learning, but this is not an unqualified advantage. It is well 
enough for the sensible boy, who recognizes that immediate 
earnings are not everything and is determined to learn. 
But it is often the smartest and most promising who succumb 
to the temptations. Clever boys are apt to learn one sort of 
work very quickly and then be content to make 255. or 305. 
a week at it, forgetting that a tradesman should be worth 
considerably more. As workmen, therefore, they are of 
less value than they ought to be and such special skill is far 
more likely to be rendered useless by some industrial change 
than is the all-round capacity of the fully competent 
mechanic. Still Migration, taken as a whole, does give the 
benefit of higher earnings ; and if, in this respect, its disadvan- 
tages are sometimes more marked than its advantages, it has 
at others a peculiar value. 

More even than Informal Service it meets the case of the 
able children of poor parents, or of those who require high 
immediate earnings because of the illness or prolonged 
unemployment of the father. At 14 a capable boy may easily 
earn his 8s. or los. a week at 'simple jobs without losing all 
chance of learning a trade, and even if he fails to do so, the 
alternative in any case would have been low-grade work. 
Again, to some extent, Migration gives a wider choice. 
The rudiments of many trades are very much alike as, for 
instance, in the different branches of wood or metal work ; 
and a boy beginning at one may easily find a better opening 
in another and so eventually be better suited. Under 
Regular Service, on the other hand, this is not possible, 
except by special arrangement. 

Finally, Migration is in certain trades almost a necessity, 
since, where the subdivision of product is carried beyond a 
certain point, Regular Service throughout the time of learn- 
ing is a mistake. Where a boy learns all that a shop can 
teach in two or three years, and this is only part of what he 


needs, he must move elsewhere in order to acquire the rest. 
Such a state of affairs is common in the Cabinet Trade, and 
wherever specialization of process or output is carried 
very far, and, again, where some shops employ a surplus of 
youths and others can find room for them as improvers. 
Thus it is often possible to acquire by Migration the whole 
of a trade when this cannot be done so effectively by Regular 
Service, and in all these cases what is required is not an 
attempt to re-establish the latter where it is unsuitable, 
but to organize this alternative. In short, what is needed 
is not Regular Service, but Regulated Migration ; and 
the attempt to secure regular employment for learners in 
a series of different jobs is one of the most important of 
the tasks which awaits the Juvenile Labour Exchange. 

The case for Migration, therefore, depends partly on its 
merits and partly on its necessity. It serves the more 
capable and sensible of the boys who adopt it as well, or 
better than, any other method. But, as at present organized, 
its success depends too much on the possession of more than 
average ability by those who utilize it. Boys, as a rule, are 
not capable of looking after themselves, and whilst some 
who are not manage to " get there somehow," many fail 
from lack of control or guidance. It is sometimes said that 
the smart lad will succeed under any method, however bad, 
and the bad one fail under any other, however good. It is 
by its effect on the average boy, therefore, and on those 
who can succeed with care and attention, but not without, 
that a method must be judged, and the result of this 
test is not favourable to Migration. The dull, plodding 
boy, the smart unbalanced one, the boy who needs keeping 
up to the mark, the careless, the grumbler, and the irre- 
sponsible, will all be unduly exposed by it to the danger of 
failure : and the number who do fail will be unduly high. 
At the same time, many of these failures are due less to the 
method itself than to neglect to organize it, and it would 
appear capable of such organization as would remove or 
dimmish its most serious blemishes. 

Moreover the industrial conditions that usually accom- 


pany Migration are themselves peculiarly dangerous. 
Nearly all the trades in which it flourishes are much affected 
by general depressions of trade, by seasonal slackness, and 
by the casualization of employment. Further, single 
businesses in, for instance, the making of electrical machin- 
ery have ups and downs of prosperity and slackness, quite 
apart from the general conditions of trade, and both boys 
and men are taken on and put off as occasion demands. 
There is thus apt to be what Mr. Beveridge calls a Reserve 
of Labour in the case of boys as well as men. This state of 
affairs is particularly marked throughout the furniture 
trades, though here the better-class firms retain mostly 
some form of Regular Service. Where Migration prevails, 
therefore, many of the boys have of necessity to make con- 
stant changes of work which often lead to considerable 
spells of Unemployment. 

But the method tends of itself to produce these results, 
quite apart from trade conditions, and sometimes quite 
independently of them. Of necessity, learning by Migra- 
tion involves change of firm from time to time, and therefore 
increased liability to unemployment. In fact, where there 
is marked subdivision of employment, this is quite unavoid- 
able. But in other cases also, improvers are employed to 
work at a particular job and, when they have learnt all they 
can at it, have to find themselves another if they want to 
learn more. The most successful, indeed, often get job 
after job with little or no loss of time, but, taking one year 
with another, the rank and file usually lose a good deal : and 
the danger of this is undoubtedly far greater than with 
Informal Regular Service. 

Moreover boys are left without supervision or a regular 
job just when they need them most. The older improver 
who has served for three or four years in one firm is better 
able to look after himself, but to the younger ones steadiness, 
discipline and control, for the time at any rate, are more 
essential than variety. One great danger is that a boy will 
learn only part of a trade or drift from one trade to another 
without mastering any, As a result of being unemployed, 


he may throw up the one he is learning in despair and either 
try to enter another or take unskilled work. Again, from 
an employer's point of view such an improver is necessarily 
engaged and paid as a wage-earner and not as a learner. 
Hence it is no one's business to teach him, and what he can 
earn comes gradually, but necessarily, to fill a larger and 
larger place in his outlook, till he loses sight altogether of 
the other thing, and may even leave a good trade at which 
he is getting on excellently for better paid unskilled work ; 
and when, as not infrequently happens, the abler boys 
succumb to this temptation, the loss is all the greater. 

Finally, the actual teaching that he gets as apart from 
the experience is frequently not so good as with Regular 
Service. Though a few firms make a point of bringing 
them on, improvers are usually left to do the best they can 
for themselves and obtain their knowledge as they may. 
They do not get the advice and assistance of experienced 
men in the same way that a learner does. Thus they are very 
liable to acquire wrong methods of working that are difficult 
to eradicate, and may even permanently lower their value. 
" My objection to improvers," said one foreman, " is that 
their knowledge is picked up in the gutter. There is no con- 
tinuity, and in between whiles boys work at casual jobs, and 
this way of learning is responsible for overstocking the trade 
with half-taught labour." Again, the method involves the 
continual " swapping of shops and foremen/' so that the 
improver is under no one man's control for long, and a fore- 
man " won't take the same interest in a boy another man 
has been training as in his own." This is only natural, and 
its results are frequently unavoidable, but they are none the 
less serious. 

Such are the disadvantages of Migration, and whilst 
many of them are inherent in the method itself, they are 
immensely aggravated by the conditions under which it 
exists. The migratory improver works under no definite 
rules, nor is he under any direct guidance. He is generally 
regarded as a person who looks after himself, and he is left 
to do so. Having refused or been unable to get Regular 


Service, it is assumed that he can take care of himself and 
does not need control, whereas, in fact, he really needs it 
more than the apprentice or learner does. 

Of these last the former has a definite place to work at 
for a definite time, settled conditions, and a clearer objective 
before both himself and his employer. The learner, again, 
though there is no binding agreement, gets much the same 
thing in practice. Where contracts are not carried out, 
therefore, the problem is to enforce them. With the im- 
prover any organization for this purpose has still to be 
created. For Migration to a great extent involves the 
absence of any guarantee either of regular employment or of 
teaching. The improver is only paid for as long as he is 
required or chooses to stay. His difficulties, therefore, 
cannot be dealt with by fixing conditions over a long period. 
Because he has to be continually changing his job, they are 
peculiarly severe : and the only feasible method of dealing 
with them is by careful control and supervision of indi- 
vidual boys, in short, by Juvenile Labour Exchanges and 

If and when created, this organization will reduce to a 
minimum the disadvantages of Migration and correspond- 
ingly increase its merits. Of the former, one of the greatest 
is the danger of Unemployment and Casual Labour. To 
meet this one of the chief objects of the Exchange should be 
to arrange where possible a series of consecutive jobs, arid 
other means can be taken to meet such periods of unemploy- 
ment as are inevitable. Again, the Exchange, the After- 
Care Worker and the Technical Instructor can all assist, 
both in advising when to make a change of firm and where 
to go ; and as a result such changes will probably become 
less numerous. The improver will work, in short, in fewer 
firms for longer periods. The average boy, again, will not, 
as hitherto, be left alone to look after himself ; whilst 
the conditions of acquiring knowledge can be modified, 
partly by a fuller use of the Trade Schools, partly by inducing 
employers to put their improvers upon a more definite foot- 
ing as regards teaching. In time, perhaps, a system of 


definite engagements for shorter periods might be estab- 
lished, thus reviving in a modern form something resembling 
the " annual hirings " of the Statute of Artificers. 

There is, therefore, for the time being at any rate, both 
the need and the room for all three methods Apprentice- 
ship, Informal Service, and Migration each with its re- 
quisite organization and its separate sphere. At present, 
indeed, they are not kept distinct, but compete with one 
another, sometimes even within a single form, and with 
disastrous effect. For these conditions make it difficult to 
get the best out of any of them and accentuate the evils and 
abuses of all. Thus, to recapitulate briefly, casual Appren- 
ticeship cannot standardize teaching over a trade or district, 
and it is this standardization that gives it its chief value. 
Such a standard is of necessity inapplicable to firms that 
follow other methods, and the lower requirements of these 
tend to conceal the abuse of its terms by those who adopt it. 
Such abuse, therefore, flourishes more readily where the 
method is only occasionally utilized. Finally, as is illus- 
trated by the case of the Building Trades, all hope of getting 
the best out of it is destroyed by the growing discontent with 
its conditions both among employers and apprentices. 

Again, its presence in this form has probably prevented 
the alternative methods from being as well organized as 
they might have been if they had stood alone. The higher 
standards have been associated only with Apprenticeship, 
and for this reason those required under the less strict rival 
methods are lower than they need, or should, have been. 
The most palpable difference between Informal Service and 
Apprenticeship is that the former does not possess the fixed 
rules of the latter, or at least not so many of them, and 
insistence upon this difference has tended to retard its better 
organization. For similar reasons, the real difficulties and 
dangers of Migration have been obscured. The ignoring of 
the fact that the improver needs more actual control than 
either the apprentice or the learner is largely due to the 
idea that some form of Regular Service, and especially of 
Apprenticeship, is the proper method of learning any trade. 


Against the evils of Migration people look back to the 
re-establishment of the old system under conditions that do 
not suit it, rather than forward to the proper organization 
of the new : and by failing to adopt the right policy, they 
fail also of the only present means of achieving success. 

What has to be faced, in short, is the fact that, whilst in 
time a single uniform system l may be developed, the exist- 
ence of several methods side by side is inevitable both now 
and in the immediate future. Whilst, therefore, each 
of them has its separate sphere which it can serve better 
than any other, trouble arises because they are not kept 
separate, but contest the whole field to their mutual loss. 
Consequently, to make the best of each and all of them some 
line of demarcation is essential. It is not necessary that one 
system only shall be admissible throughout a whole trade, 
since different ones may suit different branches of it. Cabinet- 
Making, for instance, might have Service in West London 
and Migration in the wholesale trade. But it should be 
possible to distinguish spheres of influence throughout which 
a single method shall be applied with some approach to 
uniformity, and at least to put a stop to the existence, side 
by side, of two or more within a single shop. Under present 
conditions the employer is not to blame, but a change would 
probably be as advantageous to him as to the boys. In 
some cases, however, a combination in the form of Short 
Service followed by Migration may prove to be the best 

The establishment of such an organization will undoubt- 
edly be both slow and difficult, but the germ of it already 
exists in the Juvenile Labour Exchange. Few things are 
more necessary. So long as several methods mingle to- 
gether, either the raising or the enforcement of any standard 
will be difficult. With separate spheres of influence, each 
can have the regulations suited to it and its own " Common 
Rule." It will obtain also its own public opinion to enforce 
their observance ; and to get a thing accepted is the first 
step towards getting it improved. 

1 Probably in the form of Short Service followed by Migration. 


Regarding the other two methods, it will be sufficient to 
sum up the conclusions of previous chapters. The same 
confusion which affects Service and Migration is to be found 
in them, though modified somewhat in the case of Following- 
up by certain of the conditions that accompany it. Both 
of them, however, stand somewhat apart from the others 
Following-up because it applies to a limited group of trades 
possessing distinct methods of working, and Picking-up 
because it is concerned altogether with a lower grade of 

In Following-up the first few years are passed in a labourer's 
position, serving one or more mechanics, after which a youth 
gets the tools and makes his way, sometimes in a single 
firm, and sometimes by movement from one to another. 
The conditions, especially the mingling of methods and 
their results, are often very similar to those already described. 
Nevertheless, the danger is somewhat less, first, because after 
some' years as an assistant a youth is better fitted to look 
after himself when changes from firm to firm become neces- 
sary, and, secondly, because even if he fails to rise further, 
he has a semi-skilled job as mate or hammerman to fall 
back upon. There is still, however, the danger on the one 
hand of creating a class of half-taught mechanics, the " good 
mates spoilt," who are neither the one thing nor the other, 
and on the other the risk that some who are capable of better 
things will never rise beyond an assistant's job. Following- 
up, moreover, has another defect that is peculiar to itself, 
namely, that it is liable to overstock a trade with mechanics 
because it is just a chance how many mates will become such, 
and sometimes more will do so than an industry can find 
room for. Some of these employments, again, either 
are, or are liable to become, Partial Blind Alleys. Like other 
methods, therefore, Following-up requires an organization 
specially suited to its particular needs. Like them, however, 
it does not as yet possess it. 

Picking-up, on the other hand, is frequently found in em- 
ployments whose demand for labour is such as to enable them 
to absorb some who have hitherto worked in Blind Alleys. 


In proportion many of them employ older youths far more 
than boys. They are easy to learn, can often be learnt later 
in life, and therefore are well fitted for those who have not 
quite sufficient capacity to become artisans. But the ease 
with which they are entered, and left, and the haphazard 
methods of acquiring them, cause many to drift into them 
and out again, till they grow up either without occupation 
or with no proper grasp of one, and in any case without 
learning application or discipline. Here, therefore, the need 
is to put the right boys to these employments and keep them 
under a steady control, so that the best may be made of 
them in work suited to their capacity. 

Finally, these several chief methods Apprenticeship, 
Informal Service, Migration, Following-up and Picking-up 
have also to be organized in combination, as well as individu- 
ally. Each has, as its separate sphere, certain trades or 
branches of them. But they must also be regarded as 
parts of a single whole. It is not enough merely to organize 
the teaching of the skilled trades, but all boys from the most 
to the least capable must be put to some occupation, and 
the right boy to the right occupation. This, at least, is the 
ideal, and whilst the possibility of applying it to every 
individual is doubtful, the nearer this can be approached 
the better it will be. Again, the abler boys must go to the 
skilled trades, the moderately competent to the semi-skilled, 
and the least gifted to the unskilled, whilst similarly a broad 
distinction can be made between those suited for manual 
and for clerical employments. Moreover, they must be put 
not only to learn the right trades, but to learn them in the 
right way, not necessarily by any hard and fast rule, but by 
a well-ordered care and control. Whether they are to be 
compositors or dockers, they should grow up regular, 
disciplined, and intelligent men ; and to ensure this they must 
be suitably placed and kept steadily at work, and, when a job 
fails or is likely to fail, must be helped and assisted to another. 
This, perhaps, is a high aim, but only so will our alleys cease 
to be blind and the organization of boy labour become 
thoroughly efficient. 



Second Problem is the Method of Training in Detail Its Import- 
ance Importance of Original Selection of a Trade Extent 
of this Problem Variation in Methods of Selection adopted by 
Employers Absence of Method Failure to guarantee more 
than Character and Physique Comparatively Small Number 
of Failures under Regular Service Natural Selection by Pro- 
motion of Boy Labourers : Its Value ; Its Disadvantages. 

From the Boys' Point of View Two questions How to find 
a trade ? How to get a job? Second often answers First 
These matters generally left to Individuals Work of School- 
masters and others Absence of Co-ordinated Scheme for 
dealing with them The Juvenile Advisory Committee Choice 
of an Occupation Vague Ideas of parents and boys Finding 
a Job Popular Trades Failure to test boy's capacity 
or influence his choice. Difficulty of Discovering Prospects 
of a particular trade. Extent to which boys have places to 
go to Tendency to take first decent opening Trades often 
discovered only after they have started to work Insistence 
on a job being obtained at once Justification for this ; its 
Danger Difficulty of Finding a Particular Place, contrasted 
with frequency of jobs with no prospects Unsuitable Trades 
Lack of expert advice for working-class parent Its Results 
Social Reasons for choice of a trade. 

Influence of Wages on Choice of Employment Distinction 
between desire to start boy earning and desire to get highest 
possible wages Justification for and Advantages of Former 
Tendency to lead to evil result and reasons for this Classifica- 
tion of Parents according to their Attitude Preponderance 
of Boy Labouring over Skilled Work very great at fourteen 
Errand Boys' jobs a Natural Opening Bad Results of present 
conditions largely due to Want of Information Wages in good 
work higher than is usually supposed Frequency of Insistence 
not on highest possible wages, but on a certain Minimum 
Amount Justification of this attitude Deliberate Preference 
for high wages over prospects a later growth Reasons for this 
Disastrous effects of lack of information combined with 
peculiar industrial conditions of London. 



So far, what has been considered has been the question of 
entry into different trades, or how boys get into them to 
begin with, and how, having done so, they work their way 
up to become journeymen. The operation of these different 
methods in detail, or how the boys are actually taught, con- 
stitutes the second of the three main questions of Industrial 
Training, and is of scarcely less importance. For in good 
hands an inferior system may work very well indeed and in 
bad ones, as with some cases of Formal Apprenticeship, the 
very best method can be made an engine of abuse. Indeed, 
the best teaching is sometimes given in those firms which re- 
fuse to take any responsibility for providing it. The subject, 
therefore, has now to be treated from a somewhat different 
standpoint, that, namely, of the arrangements actually made 
for teaching the boys. Even so, however, the old demarca- 
tion still holds, that under Regular Service a boy gets taught or 
at least gets a definite opportunity to learn, and under Migra- 
tion has to teach himself and find his own opportunities. 
In dealing with this branch of the subject, moreover, it is 
necessary to include not only the years in which a boy is 
actually engaged in learning, but those which elapse before 
he starts to do so, or, in short, his whole life from the 
time he leaves school until he has either acquired an occupa- 
tion or definitely failed to do so. The matters with which it 
is concerned, therefore, are numerous and include Choice 
of a Trade, Age of Entry, Wages and Earnings, Work in the 
Shop, Relations to the Employer, and Technical and Trade 

Since a boy's start in life affects his whole career, the 
selection of his future employment is of vital importance, 
and cases of unsatisfactory teaching are frequently due to 
an initial mistake in this matter or to the way in which lads 
have spent the one or two years which may have elapsed 
before they start to learn. The' special difficulties of Lon- 
don its huge area and scattered character, and the irregu- 
larity of much of its work intensify existing evils ; but, 
great though they often are, it is necessary to guard against 
exaggeration. A recent report of the Birmingham Education 


Committee estimated that in that city a quarter of the chil- 
dren between fourteen and seventeen who had attended the 
Elementary Schools, needed constant care and supervision 
during adolescence owing to the inability of their parents 
to look after them, and that the remainder needed at most 
only occasional advice or assistance. Thus under existing 
conditions about one in four appeared to be in real danger 
of having their future prospects injured. In London the 
proportion is likely to be appreciably greater, and others are 
likely to suffer from causes which only begin to operate 
after they have reached the age of seventeen. In both 
towns, moreover, some who do not need continuous, will 
require occasional, supervision. 

The future of many will be influenced, for good or evil, 
by the various methods of selection which employers adopt. 
Many firms are careful in their choice of learners and appren- 
tices and obtain them from various sources. Preference 
is frequently given to sons, brothers, or nephews of men 
working for the firm, and competent workmen can usually 
place their boys in this way, though some of them prefer to 
put them into another trade or shop. Those employers, 
however, who take few learners often get more by this 
means than they can find room for. Others obtain them in 
the general course of their work from firms with whom 
they do their business, by the recommendation of custo- 
mers, and so on. Thirdly, many Head Teachers of the 
Elementary Schools do a great deal to find positions for 
their boys and applications are made to them when one is 
required. A few are also obtained through the clergy or 
workers in clubs. Again other employers, more particu- 
larly in Engineering, only take learners at sixteen and insist 
on the continuance of their education up to this age, whilst 
some of the Day Trade Schools are building up a connexion 
among firms of repute in their industries. Finally, many 
shops, without getting them from any particular source, 
will carefully test their fitness for the business. 

Even the most careful selection, however, can in many 
cases guarantee only character and general physique, and 


that it does not always ensure industrial fitness for the 
particular job is shown by the failures that still occur. A 
boy of fourteen or fifteen frequently does not know his own 
mind and sometimes his bent is not apparent when he leaves 
school. The usual probationary period of from one to three 
months is often too short, and comes to an end before the 
keenness due to the novelty and excitement of starting 
work has worn off. Again, an employer sometimes feels 
bound to take a lad against his better judgment, as, for 
instance, when an old and valued workman insists upon it, 
or he may only be able to offer an opening in a trade other 
than the one the boy desires, and this his parents dare not 
refuse. The result in each case is that the mistake is only 
discovered when it is too late. A big firm can occasionally 
transfer a lad to a more suitable branch of its business, but 
this is not common. Usually an employer is afraid to 
turn him -adrift and so keeps him and makes the best of 
him, and he never becomes a competent workman. 

Even where the boys are carefully selected before engage- 
ment, therefore, there is likely to be an appreciable number 
of failures ; and where they are not, it is usually very much 
greater. Now a deliberate choice is, as a rule, only made in 
the case of those who are definitely taken on as apprentices 
or learners ; and even with them only in some firms, and 
more often in the large than in the small ones. Chance plays 
a much bigger part in the promotion of boy labourers. 
With Migration the improver is engaged and paid as a wage- 
earner and is put off if he fails to earn his money ; and 
with Following-up it is largely a toss-up whether a mate 
possesses the capacity, or obtains the opportunity, to rise. 
What happens is that in each case the better boys gradually 
learn the trade and learn it successfully, others either leave 
it altogether or fail to become competent. Hence trouble 
arises not only because the wrong boys are sometimes 
selected, but because those who are not selected have their 
chances spoilt. 

Two classes of employers have to be distinguished, those 
who make a deliberate practice of promoting the best of 


their boy labourers, and those who simply raise to the 
bench the first who happens to take their fancy. There 
are many of the former and the jobs of the glue-boy in 
Joinery and Cabinet-Making, and of the errand boy in Silver- 
smithing provide an avenue into a trade for some of them 
at any rate. So too some printing and stereotyping offices 
apprentice the abler of their errand boys. Now this policy 
has many advantages from the employers' point of view. 
To see boys at work is often the most efficient criterion of 
their fitness for it ; and by taking the pick of them, a wider 
choice is possible. Moreover, it gives what is often their 
only real chance of rising to clever children in poor circum- 
stances who must start earning at once. On the other 
hand, a succession of incompetent and unsuitable boys may 
be both troublesome and expensive, and this is even more 
liable to happen to those who leave matters to take their 
course. On the whole, however, employers of both kinds 
succeed in obtaining sooner or later the lads they require, 
though they may not always get a really suitable one, as 
distinct from one " who will do." It is true that the number 
of unsuccessful speculations is likely to be comparatively 
large ; but this is little more than an ordinary trade risk. 
Matters are far less favourable when we look at them from 
the boys' point of view, and especially when we consider, 
as we must, not only those who do get the chance to learn 
but those who do not. It is not all employers who will take 
trouble about them, and for this they themselves are some- 
times to blame. " We find room for a good proportion of 
our boys," said a leather manufacturer, " but some of them 
are so rough we cannot make anything of them. They 
won't ever be and do not want to be anything better than 
unskilled labourers." Their failure to stick to their jobs 
often increases the difficulty of providing for them, but 
this restlessness itself is in part the creation of the con- 
ditions under which they work. Thus the latter help to 
spoil their prospects, both by creating character and habits 
that are unfavourable and by causing them to waste their 
time in a succession of boys' jobs till it is too late to learn a 


trade or even an occupation of any kind. So the 
difficulties are increased from the first and the chances 
biassed against them by the haphazard methods of selection 
that are adopted, and what may at worst prove a not very 
serious loss to the individual employer may be ruin to 

Hence in choosing their vocation boys are hampered at 
the very outset. How they make this choice must now be 
considered ; and two distinct, though allied, questions 
require an answer, first how do they fix upon a trade, and 
secondly, how do they find an opening in it and obtain their 
first job ? Often, indeed, the reply to the second question 
provides the answer to the first, as, for instance, that a boy 
chances to get a certain job and afterwards stays in it to 
learn the business, or that another starts out to get into one 
trade and abandons it for something else. The importance 
of a lad's first place, therefore, has to be insisted upon, since 
the conditions that accompany it will often mean the whole 
difference between success or failure, though probably it is the 
leaving rather than the entering of it that matters most. In 
itself it may be, and often is, neither good nor bad. What is 
important is whether he sticks steadily at it when it is a 
permanency or leaves it at the right moment for a better 
position when it is not, or whether in either case he throws 
it up at the wrong time for other casual jobs which lead to 

This matter, like so many others, is left very much to the 
individual to settle for himself, and there is no well-defined 
method of dealing with it. Only in the last few years has 
any general organized attempt been made to control the 
placing of boys in employment. Apart from the efforts of 
parents and friends, however, there have existed for some 
time various agencies through which some of them have been 
provided for as they leave school. Perhaps most has been 
done by the Head and other Teachers in Elementary Schools, 
many of whom obtain positions for a good proportion of 
their boys, but their work surfers from certain inevitable 
deficiencies. Frequently they cannot test the value of a 


job, nor have they always the most suitable boy to fill it, 
but, like the parents, have to make the best of whatever 
offers and endeavour to fill a good post at all cost, sending 
the best available. Here the Labour Exchange with its 
wider area of selection will have a great advantage. Above 
all, the teacher has neither the time nor the power for the 
even more important task of supervising the after-careers of 
his boys. The Clergy and their workers also find a certain 
number of places, but act under even greater disadvantages. 
Boys' Clubs as a rule devote more time to looking after 
those who are in work than to finding it for those who are 
not. Finally, the Skilled Employment Associations pro- 
vide for a few hundreds each year as apprentices and learners 
and assist with advice a somewhat larger number. 

Nevertheless, until the last few years, there has been no 
co-ordinated effort to deal with all those who need assist- 
ance. The first move was made by the Circular Letter sent 
out by the Headmasters and Headmistresses of Council 
Schools offering advice to parents whose children were leav- 
ing at the end of the following year. The re-organization 
of the Care Committees in 1908 saw a great extension of their 
After-Care work, which includes both the placing of boys 
and their supervision until seventeen. This was put on a 
still more definite basis by the establishment of Juvenile 
Advisory Committees under the Labour Exchange Act 
(1909). The number of these is now considerable and their 
organization is being steadily improved. The system, how- 
ever, is still in its infancy. 

The fact remains, therefore, that for the present and in the 
immediate future at any rate, the choice and finding of work 
will rest with the boy and his parents. What they have to 
do is, first, to discover what occupation 1 he is suited for, 
and, secondly, to find him a job in it not merely, be it noted, 
to find him a job. Outside agencies can give far greater 

1 This term, as stated in Chapter I, maybe used to describe any 
kind of employment that has a definite independent position, but 
includes semi-skilled and unskilled as well as skilled work. 


assistance with the latter than with the former, which must 
always depend chiefly upon the father. 

Many parents have a very clear idea what they want 
their boys to be and some even have a place waiting for 
them, but too often no thought is given to the matter till 
they have left or are about to leave school. Not seldom, 
indeed, the offer of advice by the Head Teachers is not taken 
advantage of. The thing is simply put off till the last 

A few weeks before he leaves, a boy will say that " my 
father (or my mother) hasn't told me yet," or the mother 
will inform one that, " I have not thought about it, he is 
not leaving School for two months, is he ? " and even a 
few days before it is much the same. " We must see 
what turns up." " He must get what he can, like the others 
did/' 'The boy must take his chance," and so on. In 
many cases, indeed, the need for doing anything before he 
actually leaves is not realized, and when he does every- 
thing has to be fixed up in a hurry. Again, even when 
a lad has a particular thing in view, nothing will be done 
to find him a place in it, except perhaps that a relative will 
promise to speak for him. He only starts to look for one 
after he has left, and, whilst doing so, will very likely drop 
into some errand boy's job or go " on the vans " instead. 

Moreover, even where his choice is not a mere passing 
fancy, as it often is, many a boy of fourteen selects his trade 
for all sorts of reasons, that have no reference to the prospects 
it offers or his own capacities. He selects it because, for 
instance, it is a " nice clean trade " like Joinery or " a 
respectable sort of trade " like clerking, or because a boy 
friend likes it and " will speak to the guvnor for me." 
The most implicit trust, indeed, is often placed in somebody 
speaking to some one else, and the matter is left at that. 
Further there is a fashion in trades and there are some 
usually it is true the most prosperous and best paid which 
every other boy wants to go into. Some of them undoubtedly 
give a definite opening, but certain purely temporary jobs 
have also a great attraction, partly because of the high wages 


and partly because a boy sees so many of his friends going 
into them. 

Throughout, therefore, a very marked feature is the 
failure on the part of a boy's parents to grasp the need for 
making any provision for him until he has actually left 
school, and with this often goes, almost necessarily, a com- 
plete lack of knowledge of his tastes and capacities. The 
cause is not so much absence of forethought as want of 
information and inability to realize its necessity. Hence 
boys are allowed to select, or may even be forced into, quite 
unsuitable trades, whilst when they choose suitable ones 
they may fail to get into them. Thus from the outset the 
chances are often weighted, and weighted heavily, against 

A Foreman Joiner, employed by a well-known firm, put 
the matter as follows :-" A father ought to see, though 
he does not do so, that his son finds out what his future line 
in life is to be. It is easy enough to make a boy say where 
his taste lies. A father should make him think about it, 
grasp what the trade is and what work it does, so that he 
gets a general insight into it." To do this is far from easy. 
Nevertheless it is for their neglect in this respect that work- 
ing-class parents are most to blame. Many boys indeed 
have no special bent for any one trade, but it is an advan- 
tage to know this ; and parents could undoubtedly do more 
than they do to find out what a lad is fit for and what he 
wants to be ; and after that make him learn all about it and 
realize what the work is and what he is letting himself in 
for. Where a boy does this, my informant added, he learns 
twice as quickly after he has started work. As it is the 
very contrary attitude is often adopted that "it is not 
what the boy wants, but what his father wants : he must 
take his chance like his father did," 1 and in this way his 
chances of entering the trade he is best fitted for are spoilt, 

If, however, parents fail to do all that the} 7 might in this 
respect, conditions are very much 1 against them in other 
ways. For one thing they frequently have neither the time 
1 This was actually said to me by the mother of a boy. 


nor the means to discover the future prospects of a trade. 
Many causes may be operating to contract the demand for 
labour in it, but these do not always appear on the surface 
nor are they sufficiently obvious to guide the individual 
workman. What is common knowledge is often inaccurate 
and at best behind the times. An industry may decline 
for some time before the fact is generally known, or again 
it may get much overstocked with labour during a boom, 
as happened apparently to the Building Trades between 
1895 and 1900. Yet boys may still continue to enter it 
after the decline has set in. Hence as regards its remoter 
prospects their parents suffer from a lack of information 
for which they cannot fairly be held reponsible. 

When a boy leaves School, therefore, he has as a rule 
but the vaguest idea of his future calling, and little or no 
effort has been made to find him a place in it. With nothing 
else in view he frequently becomes an errand boy or mes- 
senger boy, more or less by default, these jobs being both to 
himself and his parents the natural opening. Sometimes, 
too, one finds that, like the Greek admirals after Salamis, 
who each put himself first and Themistocles second, lads 
have chosen one definite trade only and can offer no alter- 
native to it but such a job, which, besides being a natural 
opening, is thus used to fall back upon when other things 

Again it is necessary to guard against exaggerating the 
extent to which things are left to the last minute. For 
many more boys than is sometimes supposed do contrive to 
have a place awaiting them when they leave School. Some 
go to what constitutes another kind of natural opening when 
they enter the same firm as their fathers, elder brothers or 
other relatives, though not necessarily to do the same work. 
Others go to a job found by a friend, who is frequently 
another boy already at work, and where there is a prominent 
local trade many gravitate into that. Even in these cases, 
however, a lad is often just pitchforked into the first thing 
that offers, without further attempts to select something that 
suits him. U uallythe job is neither the best available nor 


the one that offers the highest immediate wages, but simply 
the first that turns up and it may give prospects either good 
or bad. Here again chance rather than choice rules ; and 
this applies equally to those who are careful to put their 
sons into good trades, except that they do wait for some 
decent opening instead of snapping up the first that occurs. 
Chance, however, may very well turn out successfully and 
sometimes does so. 

The matter is further complicated by the fact that many 
boys only discover, rather than choose, their occupations 
after they have started to look for work. Their original 
choice does not survive the search for it ; but in this search 
they often get into a position to learn something, and may 
even obtain openings as good as the most careful selection 
could have afforded. Sometimes a firm has a good place 
to offer, and a boy, passing in the course of his wanderings, 
" sees a card in the window/' takes the job and learns the 
trade ; or again in those temporary boys' jobs that are con- 
nected with a skilled trade a smart lad manages " to get to 
the bench and work his way up." It is thus that the reply 
to the question of how a boy finds a job also answers that 
as to how he selects a trade. 

As regards the former, again, he is once more left in a 
position which still further increases the influences that are 
working adversely to his chances. Usually when he leaves 
school, he is simply sent out to find a job for himself, with, 
it is true, some help from the rest of his family ; but, as the 
time the parents can give to this is very limited, it falls 
mainly upon himself to do the best he can with little know- 
ledge of what he wants and less of how to get it. As a rule, 
indeed, he has to hunt for his work by going from street 
to street and shop to shop, just as any other non-employed 
person does, with sometimes a periodical visit to the Labour 

What he is sent out to find is not a trade, nor even any 
job in particular, but simply a job. His parents' attitude 
usually is that he must do this and be quick about it. It is 
put to him that he is big enough to earn a wage, and ought 


to do so ; and where the home circumstances are not good 
the pressure to find something quickly is very great. Often 
there is no distinction between one thing and another and 
no idea beyond this of simply getting a job. The parents, 
indeed, are less likely to sacrifice the future deliberately 
than to insist on their boy taking at once some sort of place. 
Against this attitude his usually indefinite ideas are not 
proof. He is made to understand that he must get something 
and not miss a chance, and that the other thing can be seen 
to later. The working-class parent is oppressed, often un- 
duly so, with the difficulty of finding a boy work at all, 
and therefore, fearing that he will get nothing, hurries him 
into the first thing that turns up. 

It is only fair to remember, moreover, that to get a boy as 
quickly as possible into decent work of some kind is often 
the wisest course. Early unemployment is perhaps the worst 
danger than can beset a young worker, and quickly gives 
him a taste for street loafing and casual habits. Indeed, 
many experienced persons think that, unless he has some 
marked capacity for a particular trade, and sometimes even 
then, it is best for him to take the first decent job that 
offers and then look about him for something better. This 
will keep him steadily at work from the outset, and en- 
courages habits of regularity and discipline ; and to their 
value many parents are fully alive. 

The real danger is that where this course is adopted with 
something better in view for the future, the matter will not 
be followed up but things will be allowed to slip, and even- 
tually nothing will be done. A boy wants to be, say, a 
carpenter, but, being unable to find an opening at once, 
becomes a messenger or errand boy, and finally the matter 
is dropped and forgotten altogether. Or again, having 
got one boy's job easily, he finds it as easy to get another 
at slightly higher pay and thus acquires the habit of con- 
tinually changing, so that, sticking to nothing, he learns 
nothing. The real cause of the trouble, however, lies less 
in the actual taking of the first job than in the results that 
often follow from this, and these in their turn are accentuated 


by the failure to find out what he needs before he leaves 

Of the many causes of the abandonment of the vaguely 
desired trade for the ubiquitous errand-boy's work, the 
most potent has still to be mentioned. Even where a 
certain trade is kept steadily in view, there is still the very 
great difficulty of finding a place in it, which is enormously 
increased in London by its vast size, the scattered character 
of not a few of its industries and often by the large num- 
ber and small size of the firms engaged in them. It is diffi- 
cult, if not impossible, therefore, for the parents to know 
what is offering even within a comparatively small area, 
and in the really good jobs there are many boys and few 
openings. A lad, in short, may be vainly seeking what 
he wants, whilst a few streets off an employer may not be 
able to get a suitable one for just this kind of job, and, to 
make matters worse, parents have neither the time to look 
for an opening nor the knowledge to discern its real value 
when they do find it. The boy naturally knows neither 
where to look nor how. 

On the other hand, Blind Alleys, offering good wages but 
poor prospects, are everywhere ; and as the search for a 
particular thing becomes more and more hopeless, the feeling 
grows that he must not go on hanging about the streets and 
doing nothing, and the boy gives up the attempt and takes 
labouring work, hoping still for something better to turn 
up. Not getting what he wants, he falls back perforce on 
whatever he can get. The better chance that he hopes for 
may never occur, and is perhaps forgotten, and instead of 
leaving his work to learn a trade, he may stick to it until it 
leaves him. 

Or, again, he may find an opening in a skilled trade, but 
not in the one he wants, and yet neither he nor his parents 
may dare refuse to take it. Even in labouring work this 
fear of missing an opportunity is very strong, and with 
skilled employment it is much increased by the fact that 
the chances of learning a trade seem so few. Thus a father 
in this dilemma often prefers to put a boy to one which he 


does not like rather than run the risk of not placing him in one 
at all, and sometimes the results are disastrous. Finally, 
even where the trade itself is the right one, the shop may be 
unsuitable. It may only have an inferior quality of work, 
or may use so much machinery that it cannot teach the trade 
properly, or its general treatment of its boys may be bad. 
But the ordinary workman has no sufficient means of finding 
this out, and is not likely to unless expert advice is put 
within his reach. At present it is difficult for him to get this. 

Thus even where far greater care and foresight is shown 
by the parents than is usually the case, there are still great 
difficulties which may very well lead to disaster. Indus- 
trial conditions and lack of method, therefore, combine to 
produce it. Two cases may be given to illustrate this 
state of affairs. A young Silversmith told me that " I saw 
the silverware in a salesroom window and thought it would 
be a good trade to go to. Now I find trade to be fluctuating 
and wages none too high." He appeared, however, to like 
the work and in that way was getting on all right. Again, 
an Heraldic Decorator's Apprentice got his job through an 
advertisement. " My mother saw a coat of arms over the 
door and thought that was the sort of work I should do and 
what a fine trade it would be/' After going there, however, 
he found that the firm had got the worst name in London. 
" As soon as you say you come from . . . well ! " 

Finally, many boys choose their occupations carefully 
and deliberately, but choose them not for industrial, but for 
more general, reasons. By this I mean that the deciding 
factor is not their capacity for the work but the social 
position it gives or the general conditions under which it is 
carried on. My experience in two South London Schools 
threw an interesting light on this point. In them the bulk of 
the boys want to go into four or five things, clerical employ- 
ment, engineering, printing, messenger work and, to a lesser 
extent, woodwork. 

The fondness for printing was due to the large amount of 
it done in that neighbourhood, the numerous offices pro- 
viding some real openings and some highly paid boys' jobs. 


Messenger work, again, is a natural opening taken by the 
more thoughtless or used to fall back upon if other things 
fail. Moreover there is a fashion in trades, and at present 
Engineering is decidedly the fashionable one, and for this 
reason many boys choose it. " Every boy wants to be an 
engineer nowadays," and every ambitious mother wants 
her son to be one. Electrical and motor engineering are 
the most favoured branches, though to many the term 
signifies almost any kind of heavy metal work. A few 
who make this choice possess real capacity for it, but more 
are fitted for it neither manually nor intellectually. The 
number of boys in the lower standards who want " to be an 
engineer " is quite significant. 

Clerical labour and woodwork illustrate another form of 
this tendency. The choice of the former bears witness 
to the desire for an advance in social position and to a real 
attempt, however misdirected its character, to think out a 
lad's future. The " cult of the black coat," the eagerness, 
that is to say, of many artisans to put their sons into such 
employment, is still marked, though perhaps less so than 
formerly. The hope of a better social position than that 
of the artisan is in part justified, since many branches of it 
give better pay or prospects and usually greater security. 
On the other hand its lower grades, partly because of the 
numbers who have entered them, are poorly paid and over- 
stocked with labour. The trouble is accentuated because 
boys who are obviously unsuitable are put to the work. 
There are, however, signs of a reaction against this view and 
of attempts to make artisans of those who ought to be clerks. 
Similarly woodworking is chosen because it is " a nice clean 
trade," or " a respectable trade," though this tendency is 
not so marked as might have been expected in the two 
schools in question. Thus it is inevitable that there should 
be a certain further number of misfits when reasons of this 
kind determine the choice of occupation. 

.Finally it is necessary to consider what part is played 
in the selection by the wage to be earned. Here two things 
have to be distinguished, First there is the desire of the 


parents for their boys to start earning as quickly as possible, 
and secondly the demand, so often attributed to them, of 
high immediate earnings at all cost. These may be described 
respectively as the legitimate and illegitimate attitude 
towards the question. After all the beginning of a boy's 
industrial life does mark the beginning of his earning power ; 
and this is how he regards the matter himself. " Earning," 
wrote a Committee of the London County Council in 1906, 
" looms larger in his imagination than the more laborious 
and less remunerative learning," and naturally the time 
when he leaves school is to him the time when he will begin 
to earn, just as it is to children of the middle classes. And 
up to a point he is right. At school he only learnt ; at work, 
even when he is learning, he is also earning. 

Nor need the desire to get a boy earning some wages at 
once necessarily involve a demand for the highest possible, 
still less the sacrifice of his future prospects. Often com- 
paratively moderate rates are accepted without demur 
if there is a good opening, and many jobs, which give at least 
a chance to learn, pay much higher wages than is generally 
supposed. The boy, as already stated, is told to get a job 
and do it quickly, the attitude being that "it is time you 
are earning as you're a big boy now, so don't hang about 
doing nothing." He is often, it is true, left to do the best 
he can for himself, but where there is an opportunity to 
learn and reasonable wages are offered, an extra shilling 
or two is not allowed to stand in his way. 

Moreover, for the reasons already given, it is often wisest 
to get him into work as quickly as possible and give him 
time to look about him. But here, again, the danger lies 
in the consequences of this rather than in the thing itself. 
Having got the job for so much money, he finds he can get 
another for rather more, and so acquires the habit of con- 
sidering only the wages ; and thus he gradually loses sight 
of any ideas of learning he may previously have had. 

In most cases, therefore, the real trouble does not originate 
in insistence upon high earnings or " the big shilling," at 
least not in the first instance. It is due rather to lack of 


information, to the difficulty of finding an opening, and 
once again, to much want of thought. Indeed there is 
sometimes not sufficient of this even to produce any definite 
choice of higher money earnings in preference to better 
prospects. The matter is simply not thought about at 
all till the boy leaves school, and then he takes the first thing 
that turns up, and as, at fourteen at any rate, Blind Alley 
jobs are far more numerous than any others, it is heavy odds 
that he gets into one of them. This is confirmed by the 
experience of Skilled Employment Associations. They 
find that those who put their boys into such work simply 
from ignorance of its character and of the other available 
openings, are far more numerous than those who select them 
purely for the sake of the high wages. Here again, the 
difficulty lies rather in that great lack of information 
upon which I have attempted to insist. Boys are wrongly 
placed because their fathers " do not know." 

As regards their attitude, therefore, parents seem to fall 
into the following classes. The first consists of those who 
succeed in finding decent openings for their boys, and the 
second of those who .insist upon getting large, if not the 
largest, possible wages at once, corresponding to the lads 
who, as one employer said, " have no ambition to be anything 
beyond unskilled labourers." A third class is made up of 
those who are too poor to do anything else. Hence if their 
sons show real ability jobs ought to be found for them in 
which they can get good money at once with a chance later 
on to work their way up. It is more especially the elder 
children who are affected in this way, since their earnings 
often give the younger ones a better opportunity. Fourthly, 
there are those who desire to put their sons to a good trade 
and try to find something for them, but fail to do so and 
then allow them to get whatever they can ; and last, and 
perhaps most numerous of all, those who simply take the 
line of least resistance, doing nothing until the boy is fourteen 
and then taking the first job that offers, and that probably 
one with no prospects, since there are so many of these. 

Moreover to put a lad to a boy's job pure and simple, 



even though it leads directly to nothing further or better, 
is in many ways the natural thing for the wife of a labourer 
or even of an artisan. Quite apart from household needs, 
it is for many a necessity, simply because at fourteen there is 
nothing else available for them. Many skilled trades do 
not take their learners until sixteen and some of these have to 
iill in the interval at some kind of labouring. Moreover, 
taking all kinds of work together, the great majority have, 
between fourteen and fifteen, to do this. This may be 
illustrated by the numbers returned by the recent census 
as occupied between these ages in certain important boys' 
jobs and in some of the chief Industries 1 : 








Messengers, Ware- 
house Boys, etc. 
Government Mes- 



Engineering and 
Metal . . . 
Precious Metal 



sengers . 
Office Boys and 
Junior Clerks . 





and Implements 
House Building . 
Woodworking and 
Furniture . 
Leather . 





Total (4 groups) . 



Total (5 groups) . 



Thus the groups in the first table contain considerably 
more than half of the boys between fourteen and fifteen 
years of age employed in the County of London. Some of 
them, it is true, are undoubtedly in positions in which, 
given good conduct and capacity, promotion to the bench 
is probable ; but this is partly offset by the fact that some 
of those returned under the skilled industries are doing 

1 Exclusive of those returned as dealers. 


work that offers no prospects. This table, therefore, 
thoroughly bears out the statement that if there is a pleni- 
tude of jobs there is a paucity of good openings. 

For a mother to put a boy to a Blind Alley, in short, 
is as natural as it is often necessary. Probably her own 
people, brothers, husband and so on, all began life running 
errands or as vanguards, and many of her neighbours' 
children and of her son's own friends are thus occupied. There 
are so many of such jobs going, and so many boys going to 
them, that it becomes the obvious course to take, either 
at once, or at least when other things fail. Many a woman, 
indeed, will hardly know of anything else that is more than 
a name to her. What occurs at once is that " the boy 
might be an errand boy or a messenger boy." For she 
does know what these are, and what the work is, and still 
more that they fetch 6s. or 8s. a week. 

So too it is with other boys. As described, their first 
choice may well be a trade of some sort, though messenger 
work is also popular. But if this proves impossible, they 
go quite naturally into some boy's job, which has probably 
been their only alternative. Then in time many of them 
come to forget their original objective, including some of 
those whose capacities were equal to their ambitions. For 
instance a boy left School wanting to learn a trade. Nothing 
had been done and he found himself a job in a paper ware- 
house. The lad possessed considerable ability and his 
mother was spoken to about the matter and promised to 
ask him, but did not do so ; and as he himself was quite 
happy where he was, and had said nothing more about his 
trade, nothing more was done. 1 

Broadly considered, therefore, the fact that the Blind 
Alleys are so plentiful as to form much the most natural 
thing for a boy to go to, shows clearly how large a part 
want of imformation plays in determining for a parent 
the relative importance of different matters connected with a 
job. These include the wage to be earned, the conditions of 

1 An actual case. 


employment, its influence on the boy, and the prospects 
for the future. All should be considered ; but often only 
the first one is because it alone is realized, whilst the others 
are not. The money wage touches the working-class family 
at every point and so is not likely to be forgotten. And 
it ought not to be, for it is one of the things to be taken into 
account, though not the only one. 

The trouble arises because in many cases even the exis- 
tence of the others is not realized. Some parents hardly 
grasp the fact that different places give different prospects, 
and others who do are quite unable to distinguish between 
the good and the bad. Indeed good pay and good prospects 
sometimes go together. A big shop paying 6s. a week 
may give a chance to learn : a small one offering only 55. 
may not. A lower wage, therefore, is no necessary guarantee 
of a better opening, though on the whole the two things 
vary inversely. Moreover, future prospects are indefinite 
and vary from shop to shop, and even where their impor- 
tance is realized, there is in many cases no certainty as to 
what they will be in a particular job. Often only a chance 
or opportunity is given, and not a guarantee. The one 
thing, in fact, that is clear and definite is the money paid, 
and so this settles the matter. " The boy must take his 
chance like his father did before him," or "he must take 
what he can get like all the others did," and if lack of pros- 
pects is pointed out, " perhaps he will be one of the lucky 
ones who will be kept on." Or again he may be allowed to 
please himself . Indeed it is not possible to deny that chance 
of this kind will sometimes turn out better than the most 
careful arrangement. 

Want of knowledge, therefore, is the main reason why 
immediate wages play an unduly large part in the choice 
of employment. Where there are several things of equal 
importance, and only one of them is really known, that 
one must obviously receive more than its fair share of 
attention ; and so it does here. Deliberate sacrifice of 
prospects for the sake of the largest possible money is, in 
my opinion, comparatively rare though not unknown, and the 


choice is apt to be too haphazard even for this. The boy just 
goes to the first decently paid thing that offers. The great 
matter is for him to get something, and into something he 
is put as quickly as possible without waiting to look for 
anything with either better pay or better prospects. 

What one does find in some cases, however, is that a 
certain amount of money is demanded, and provided that 
it is offered, parents are prepared to sacrifice if necessary the 
chance of a higher rate. This holds good, moreover, of 
families in which considerable care is taken in placing the 
boys. Here, in fact, there is a sort of standard rate or 
minimum wage for a boy of fourteen, which parents can and 
will accept but for which they will stand out. Usually it is 
5s. per week, and a higher sum is not insisted upon. It is not 
uncommon for a mother to " want to put the boy into 
something that will last him for life, but a few shillings 
a week will be useful," and the two things are not always 
incompatible. Many jobs that give prospects will give 
this amount to start with, more particularly to a smart boy, 
especially where employment is "on good behaviour," 
or where he works on the errands, or partly on them, partly 
at the bench. Indeed, except in a few trades and a minority 
of firms in others, a learner ought not as a rule to need to 
start at less ; and as already stated, lower wages are no 
necessary guarantee of better prospects. To ask for a 
certain wage, therefore, is a very different thing from 'de- 
manding the maximum obtainable ; and up to a point the 
wisest course is to aim at a certain reasonable minimum. 
For the sacrifice of wages to prospects is only prudent when 
the object is not otherwise obtainable ; fairness to the other 
children demands that it should not be made without due 

But, if rare at this early stage, deliberate preference for 
higher wages over better prospects frequently grows up 
later as a result of the influences at work. The absence 
of definite methods of putting boys into trades helps to 
push the idea of learning into the background, even where 
learners are employed, and often their position is rather 


that of boy labourers who are given the chance to learn if 
they show capacity. Later on again, the improver is paid 
according to " what he is worth " and teaches himself as 
best he can. Now all this tends to hide or keep in the back- 
ground the need of learning something. Being thus taken 
on to work, and, if he can, to learn, a boy soon comes to 
demand his full value and to see that he gets it. Similarly 
he takes the first decent job that offers without any idea 
of sacrificing his prospects, but, having done so, he and his 
parents soon get into the habit of looking first to the wage 
to be earned. So from one Blind Alley job he quickly goes 
to another and yet to another. Or, if he is learning at all, 
he may make himself perfect at one thing and try to get as 
much as he can at that. To begin with there is often a 
clear intention of learning, but too often the habit grows 
up afterwards of choosing jobs for their wages alone. 
This is the result of the conditions under which the start 
in life is made ; and once more it is not the immediate but 
the ulterior consequences that are most to be feared. It 
is not that boys or their parents begin by sacrificing learning 
to earning, but that they come to do so later. 

Throughout, therefore, the chief cause of disaster consists 
in lack of information, guidance and advice. Parents neither 
know what their children need nor how to get it for them ; 
and the results are rendered worse by the absence of uni- 
formity and the variety in methods of engagement that 
are such marked features of London. Many a boy leaves 
School with at best a vague idea of what he wants and with 
no situation awaiting him. He has, as a result, to be placed 
in a hurry and, so far, the parent is, in part at least, to 
blame. When he comes to look for a. job, he is again without 
information as to what is going, or advice as to what to 
take or to avoid and what to do or not to do. Then London 
conditions render his search difficult, dangerous and often 
hopeless. Even when started, he is not seldom left without 
help or guidance to look .after himself ; and to the many 
boys who must make frequent moves after new and better 
work, this lack of guidance is peculiarly disastrous. Alto- 


gather the start in life of a London boy is beset by many 
dangers ; for his need of information and assistance is often 
great in proportion as the amount of them that he obtains 
is small. 



(a) Age at Starting in a Trade. Usual Age of Leaving Influence 

of Length of Service on Time of Start Reasons for Late Start 
Special Reasons : Work too heavy for young boys ; Dangerous 
Trades ; Responsible work ; Increased Use of Machinery 
General Reasons : Preliminary work in trade at boy's job ; 
older, stronger and more experienced boys preferred- Boys of 
fourteen still preferred sometimes Reasons for this Frequency 
of engaging boys at fourteen without putting them direct to 
the trade Chance often determines the matter Boys do not 
always know their own minds Definite answer impossible. 

Should a boy go direct from School to his trade ? Reasons 
for Reasons against Not always possible Use of temporary 
jobs in such cases. 

(b) Suitability. Difficulty of testing this Means of doing so adopted 

by employers ; Their limitations Periods of Probation Boy 
labourers engaged with view to ultimate promotion Selec- 
tion of abler boy labourers for promotion Value to employer 
of power to dismiss under Informal Service. 

Fitting right boy to right trade Less difficult than is sup- 
posed Marked capacity for a few trades only somewhat rare 
General capacity frequent More important distinctions : 
Clerical and Manual Work; High and low-skilled labour 
Selection should follow these broader lines. 

(c) Period of Service and Time taken to Learn. Period varies accord- 

ing to a number of influences Effect of changes in methods of 
production on period of service Little reduction in general 
skill No uniform period of Service Variations in practice of 
Trade Unions and of employers Three Common Arrangements : 
Seven years, Five years, Till twenty -one Five years most com- 
mon Growth of Shorter Apprenticeships Reduction in period 
no new thing. 

Time taken to learn usually about seven years Often longer 
than mere teaching requires Increase in Wage Contract : boy 
cannot spend whole time learning Influence of Subdivision of 
output Time wasted by both these influences. 

Question of reduction in general skill Proportionate in- 
crease in semi-skilled labour Probable reduction in unskilled- 



Skilled labour has gained in level of skill what it has lost in 
range Greater gradation of skill but no decrease Net time 
spent learning probably shorter Time spent before and after 
service Trade has now to be learnt more thoroughly Prob- 
ably no decrease in general skill Each grade requires more 
skill than formerly, but is often less well taught. 

(d) Preference and Heredity. Their meaning ; Preference is not a 

right Less Common for Father to teach his son ; Cases where 
it occurs Forms of Preference given by Employers Extent 
to which it is given Complete refusal rare Reasons why not 
taken advantage of. 

Heredity less marked than elsewhere Exceptions to this 
and their causes Illustration from Boys working at Trade 
Schools Trades in which it is common Reasons why men put 
their boys into other trades. 

(e) Wages. Small difference between learners and labourers' wages 

in London Methods of Wage Payment Fixed Time Rates; 
Their Different Forms Good Conduct Money Varying Time 
Rates ; Common in Building Trades Piece Rates ; How paid ; 

High Boys' Wages in London Approximation of Learners' to 
Boy Labourers' Wages 55, a week obtainable at fourteen 
Exceptions Wages in different trades General Evidence Evi- 
dence of Board of Trade Enquiry into Earnings and Hours 
Evidence as to boys starting at 55. or less in United Kingdom 
and in London. 

Rate of rise year by year From 25. to zs. 6d. a year most 
common Enormous variations in wages earned in last year of 
service Rise in learners' wages in recent years Fears of 
parents baseless Proper means of meeting them. 

WHEN a boy selects a trade or gets his first job, a number 
of conditions are settled which have an important bearing 
on his future career. These may now be treated under 
five main headings and in the following order, namely : 

(a) Age at Starting in a Trade. 

(b) Suitability for a Trade. 

(c) Period of Service and Time taken to learn. 

(d) Preference and Heredity. 

(e) Wages. 

(a) Age at Starting. With this are closely connected 
the questions whether or not a boy goes to his trade direct 
from school, whether he can be put straight to something 


that will keep him throughout life, or, if not, how the gap 
between elementary and industrial education is to be 
bridged. In London the school leaving age, which is 
fourteen, is higher than in many other towns, half-time 
is almost unknown, and exemptions are not common, the 
Labour Certificate being granted only to boys above thirteen 
and in the yth and ex-7th Standards. On the other hand, 
the number who remain at school after that age is probably 
above the average. Nevertheless the vast majority still 
leave at fourteen, and we have to consider therefore how 
far a boy can and does go at that age direct to the occupation 
he is to follow through life. 

The practice in this respect varies very much and is 
largely determined by the length of service required and 
the use and disuse of an indenture. Legally, a contract 
of Apprenticeship cannot be enforced against an apprentice 
after he reaches his twenty-first year, and so some firms 
prefer to get their boys direct from school in order that 
they may have served seven years before attaining it ; but 
where Apprenticeships of this length are not the custom, 
there is less object in doing so. Most of the employers 
who use indentures, however, try to arrange for them to 
be terminated at or before twenty-one, but there is no 
hard and fast rule. The age of starting, therefore, differs 
from trade to trade and firm to firm, and is usually between 
fifteen and sixteen and sometimes rises as high as seventeen. 
Some Trade Unions allow entry until then but not later. 
Fifteen, however, is perhaps the most common, though a 
number of reasons delay the start in many cases until 

In some trades, indeed, it is difficult if not impossible 
to start a boy as a learner before the latter. Where the 
work is laborious, a strong lad is wanted and one of fourteen 
will not do. Thus in Plumbing he has to do mate's work, 
which is usually heavy and requires at least a youth's 
strength. Only the smaller shops which " get nothing 
but one-inch pipes," as one Foreman Plumber said, can 
employ one usefully. Normally the work will be too hard. 


This is even more true of Smithing, where young boys are 
almost useless for the hammering. Again in boilermaking 
they are engaged as heaters at fourteen, but not at the 
more responsible work of carrying till sixteen. Similarly, 
they will not in some cases be employed because the work 
is dangerous. In sawmills, for instance, they " pull-out " 
at fourteen, but do not work machines till much later. 
In the fleshing of hides and skins, in which a sharp two- 
handled knife is used, seventeen is the age for taking appren- 
tices, and in bricklaying youngsters will not be employed 
as learners on high buildings. 

So, too, where a job requires special responsibility or 
discretion, only older lads will be put to it. They may, 
perhaps, be put to do boy's work about the shop as soon 
as they leave school, but will not go to the actual work of 
the trade until later. Again special reasons cause the 
taking of learners to be deferred. Certain restrictions, for 
one thing, on the employment of very young boys may 
cause their engagement to be delayed until sixteen ; or, 
as in Joinery, the increased use of machinery for the 
simpler and rougher work leaves less for them to do, and 
such jobs as they can still be given are found to be too 
heavy for them. 

These influences specially affect individual trades ; but 
there are also some general ones which tend to create a 
gap between elementary and industrial education in all 
alike. There is an increasing substitution, for bound 
apprentices or for the more definitely engaged learners, of 
lads employed first on boys' jobs who, if they show aptitude, 
are promoted to the bench. Sometimes this is practically 
another way of starting to learn a trade, and some employers 
advertise their vacancies as such. By others, however, 
only the ablest are kept on, and the rest have either to 
find an opening elsewhere or, not liking the particular 
trade, leave it of their own accord. In favour of this 
practice are the facts that it often gives a more real and 
definite trial of a boy's capacity and inclination and that 
they themselves have time to find out what they really 


want. This is not always possible when they are taken 
as learners direct from school. 

Moreover, apart from this, there is an undoubted tendency 
to raise the starting age. The boy who has been about a 
bit and got a little experience is often preferred as possessing 
more sense of responsibility than the one who has just left 
school. He is beginning, too, to realize his future and is 
less likely to " get larking about/' Further, even if no 
great strength is required, those of fourteen are usually 
small and therefore of comparatively little value, and, if 
they are small for their age, they are specially difficult to 
place, whilst, except in trades requiring fineness and 
delicacy, the preference for a strong chap " who can turn 
out plenty of work " gives them little chance. 

There are, however, some reasons which still cause many 
employers and foremen to insist upon having their boys 
directly they leave, particularly in some of the more highly 
skilled trades, and in Printing the insistence on a seven 
years' Indenture to terminate at twenty-one, or soon after- 
wards, makes this inevitable. First whilst some lads have 
a greater sense of responsibility at sixteen than at fourteen, 
others, who have been allowed to run wild in the meantime, 
are distinctly less amenable to discipline than when they 
were younger, and also have often forgotten much of what 
they learnt at School. Moreover, where a trade requires 
both intelligence and manual skill, it is better to get hold 
of them at once before the influence of long hours of monoto- 
nous and uneducative toil has had its effect. Hence many 
firms find boys to be most teachable and most able to learn 
at the earlier age, and some Foremen refuse to take those 
who have been elsewhere or have left their first place so 
soon, considering them to be " rolling stones/' 

It is a nice question, therefore, which pays the best, and 
the answer depends very largely on the class of work they 
have been doing. The boy who has been in a post that has 
exercised his wits and intelligence and has been well looked 
after at home, may have benefited by discovering during 
the interval his real bent and by possessing a strengthened 


sense of responsibility. Others, on the contrary, may have 
deteriorated, may have lost their power of application by 
running wild, or have had their intellect dulled by drudgery. 
A firm's policy, therefore, will vary with its experience ; 
and some who do not take learners till fifteen or sixteen, 
insist on their having remained at school till then, and in the 
Engineering Trades a record of two years at a Secondary or 
Technical School is sometimes required. 

Moreover, some employers get their boys at fourteen with 
the full intention of teaching them a trade, but do not at first 
employ them to work as learners. They make themselves 
generally useful and are practically on probation for a year 
or two. One large firm of Builders and Contractors, in 
particular, does this systematically. Boys are definitely 
engaged as probationers for two years at 55. a week and are 
taught a trade at the end of that time. Usually each work- 
shop has two of them, and a few more are employed in 
other parts of the business. They do not necessarily remain 
in the department in which they served their probation, 
though they often do so, and some of the foremen prefer 
it. These, and others similarly situated, therefore, do in a 
sense go direct from school to their trades, though they do 
not begin to learn them at once, and their case is somewhat 
different from the often haphazard promotion at a later age 
of the more capable boy labourers and of those the employer 
likes. Yet another cause of an interval between leaving 
and starting to learn is that, where few learners are taken, 
applicants will have to wait for a vacancy to occur. 

Finally, whilst many large and some smaller shops 
adopt a definite policy, others leave the matter more or less 
to chance. An employer simply waits until he wants a boy 
and then advertises. He takes the first eligible one, who is 
otherwise satisfactory and not obviously too old or too 
small for the work, and thus chooses the most suitable lad 
whatever his age. Hence it is sometimes an older, and some- 
times a younger, one who is taken. This is even more true 
of those who afterwards become improvers. They get to 
know a little about something, perhaps after working at 


several other jobs first, and having at last hit upon a trade, 
get work at it at the best wage they can ; but many of them 
are not able to do this until they are sixteen or even older. 

Like that of the employers, the experience of the boys 
themselves varies. Some know what they want and have 
a job to go to. More know neither what they want nor how 
to get it, and spend a year or two finding it out. Hence 
some who are qualified to speak prefer that a boy should not 
try to enter a particular trade at once, unless he knows his 
own mind very clearly, but that he should take the first 
decent job that offers and find out what he really likes. 
Some, indeed, sample three or four before they hit upon the 
right one, which they learn very successfully. This, indeed, 
will be inevitable, so long as many of them continue to 
start work without knowing what they are fit for. Others, 
again, are compelled to take work that is well paid and 
obviously, if they are to go to a trade, they must do so later, 
since their circumstances make it impossible at first. 

The question as to the usual age of starting to learn, 
therefore, hardly permits of a definite answer. Frequently 
both employers and learners leave it to chance. A firm 
wanting a boy gets the best one it can, whatever his age. 
A boy goes on finding himself jobs till a happy chance puts 
him in a position to acquire a trade and he does so. The 
starting age, therefore, varies from fourteen up to about 
seventeen. Sometimes, notably in plumbing and smithing, 
boys are not usually taken until sixteen and at others 
fourteen is the rule. Some employers prefer an earlier, others 
a later, start but this at least is obvious, that many boys 
do not go direct from school to their trades, at least to learn 
them, and the fact that many are employed first as labourers 
before being employed as learners further complicates the 

Should a boy therefore who is to learn a trade go to it 
straight from School ? That he should get a job and go to 
work as quickly as possible is obvious in order that he may 
avoid the very great danger of early unemployment. So 
far, in short, the parental instinct is a sound one. The 


danger, as described in the last chapter, is that if he enter a 
Blind Alley, he may stay at it instead of going on to some- 
thing better and thus reach manhood without any definite 
occupation at all. 

There is much to be said, indeed, for getting a boy 
started at once in a particular trade. In this case he is 
definitely in work that will last him through life, provided of 
course that the shop is a decent one, and that he has selected 
the right craft. He has had no time to forget what he learnt 
at school, and is most amenable to discipline. Moreover, 
he is not left to run wild and is less likely to acquire casual 
and irregular habits or that of continually changing his job. 

To set against these advantages, however, there are 
several objections. Placing a boy in a trade at once often 
renders any adequate trial of his capacity difficult, and 
makes it practically impossible to employ him first on trial 
about the shop, as a boy labourer, which is perhaps the 
best test of all, and sometimes the best thing that can be 
done. Secondly, many leave school without knowing their 
own minds, and thus the attempt to provide for them straight 
away may cause them to select something at which they 
cannot succeed. This difficulty, it is true, ought not to arise : 
but it will continue to do so for so long as more effort is not 
made to discover their bent whilst they are at school. 
Lastly, the thing is often impossible. Fewer chances to 
learn are available at fourteen than at fifteen, and fewer 
at fifteen than at sixteen. In short, the opportunity for 
many does not and cannot come until later. To put all 
boys in permanent situations at fourteen, therefore, is 
impossible, and the attempt may be disastrous. For 
failure to get anything but a Blind Alley job may make 
boys think that nothing better is available, and so cause 
them to give up all idea of learning a trade. Rather they 
should, where necessary, be led to look upon their first few 
places as stop-gaps to occupy their time till something better 
offers, so that they may keep their attention fixed on the 

The question, therefore, is a very open one. Where a 


boy can be put immediately to learn something for which he 
is suited, it should by all means be done, both when he has 
some special bent and when he possesses that general capa- 
city which is likely to succeed at anything. This, however, 
is not always possible : and even where an opening is avail- 
able, it is better for many to wait where they can safely do 
so. The danger consists less in putting a boy into a Blind 
Alley than in leaving him in one without help or guidance. 
It is the latter that he needs most, for if he gets them the 
problem will probably settle itself according to the circum- 
stances of each case. Where suitable openings offer, boys 
can go to them at once. Otherwise they can be put into 
temporary work which they know to be temporary, to 
await the time when something better will offer. Two 
objects will thus be served. The boy will be safely and 
usefully employed in the meantime, and a Blind Alley, while 
he is at it, will cease to be such, and will form a connecting 
path along which eventually he will reach his trade. 

(b) Suitability. Closely bound up with this question is 
the further one of the means adopted to select boys as 
apprentices and learners. The difficulty of testing their 
suitability in the first few months after they leave school, 
when almost any form of wage-earning is novel and there- 
fore pleasant, encourages the use of employment during 
good behaviour and in temporary boys' jobs as a probation. 
Without one of these devices a real test may be difficult, 
the more so as many parents do little to find out their boys' 
inclinations ; and so the selection must otherwise be a leap 
in the dark. 

First of all we may consider the means which employers 
adopt for their own protection. Not all of them by any 
means go to any special trouble in choosing learners, and 
many simply take them as they come. Much of what is 
to be said, therefore, will apply only to those who do. In 
their case, care is taken to know first of all something about 
their boys' characters and antecedents. Either they are 
sons and relatives of employes, which gives the firm a 
special hold over them, or they come with recommendations 


from various business connexions, or are introduced by the 
men. Other employers get good references with all the 
lads they take, or, as one of them put it, " know all about 
our boys before we bind them." Many, for instance, will 
be first recommended as suitable by teachers in Elementary 
Schools. Such recommendations, however, usually guarantee 
their character and general capacity, but not always their 
aptitude for a particular industry, and upon this matter 
clearer information is obtained concerning boys who stay 
at school until sixteen, and especially concerning students 
at a Day Trade School. These latter, indeed, are picked 
lads of more than average capacity who have possessed 
from the very beginning a definite aptitude for certain work ; 
and apart from them, and some few of those recommended 
from the Elementary Schools, little more than the good 
character and respectability, and to some extent the general 
intelligence, can be relied upon. Capacity for the trade in 
question has still to be tested. 

Apprentices are, as a rule, taken on trial before being 
bound, usually for one month, less frequently for two or three, 
and occasionally for longer. Three months or less often 
prove inadequate, however, even when the boys have been 
carefully selected in the first place. Some employers, there- 
fore, let the period of trial run on, and delay signing the 
Indentures for six months or even a year, and the Skilled Em- 
ployment Associations often find it advisable to do the same. 
With learnerships, too, though similar trouble is sometimes 
experienced, a longer probation is more frequent and more 
easy to arrange. 

Secondly, as already described, many firms engage boy 
labourers with a view to teaching them eventually, and 
will for a time employ them on the errands or in making 
themselves useful. Sometimes, as in the higher grades of 
cabinet work, where this device appears to be popular, the 
number of such boys is small, and room can easily be found 
for all of them. At others the engagement as an errand 
boy is for a more or less definite period of six months or a 
year. This form of selection, therefore, differs from the last, 


because boys start first at unskilled jobs and afterwards 
learn. It differs from those that follow in that the firm 
employs them with the full intention of teaching them 
afterwards, provided they are competent, with the further 
advantage of taking away the blind alley characteristics 
of such temporary jobs. The use of this method might well 
be extended, and the efforts of the Labour Exchanges could 
well be devoted to this and to ensuring a better original 
selection of boys for the purpose. 

Thirdly, as described in the last chapter, vacancies are 
filled by the promotion of the ablest of the boy labourers 
employed by a firm, who are given a chance to learn, but are 
not taken on with this purpose in view. Usually the la- 
bourers so employed far outnumber the vacancies for learners, 
or else they fill only a few of them, the rest going to ordinary 
apprentices or learners. In Printing, for instance, especially 
with Compositors and Stereotypers, a regular practice is 
often made of promoting the best of the errand boys, who 
after twelve or fifteen months are bound, their indentures 
being as a rule dated back for a year. Such offices, however, 
generally employ a large number of ordinary apprentices 
as well, and, since their work is highly skilled, only a portion 
of the errand boys, who come often from a rougher and less 
educated class, have the capacity for it. This policy is 
not confined to the Printing trade, and by its means a good 
many get their chance. 

Finally, many firms leave matters to a process of " natural 
selection," pure and simple. They just take boys on without 
any agreement, and if they are unsuitable, get rid of them. 
If they are suitable, they stay and are taught, unless indeed 
they themselves prefer to migrate elsewhere. Such em- 
ployers simply take a likely lad and put him on, and sooner 
or later they get one they like and teach him. The power of 
dismissal protects them against others. 

From their point of view this is the great advantage of 
Informal Regular Service, that the power to dismiss a boy, 
apart from the valuable hold it gives them otherwise, 
guarantees them against serious loss. With Apprentice- 


ships there is always an element of chance at the best of 
times. Some firms are very successful in getting a very 
good type, others are not, and the gains on the best who can 
be kept are offset by losses on the worst who cannot be got 
rid of. The matter is even more of a lottery with those 
who simply advertise and take what they can find, when 
frequent misfits are inevitable : for even where more care 
is taken, the means of testing the applicants often prove 
inadequate. Here again Juvenile Exchanges and After-Care 
workers will probably be able to give great assistance. 

At the same time,, the task of fitting the right boy to the 
right trade is less difficult than is sometimes supposed. 
Marked capacity for one or two things only is comparatively 
rare, and many lads possess a general aptitude for manual 
Work that enables them to learn many kinds of it with success. 
Otherwise the fate of the very large number who want to 
be engineers and nothing else, would be sad indeed, but 
happily most of them settle quite comfortably into another 
trade. Perhaps a positive dislike, or even a physical in- 
capacity, for certain industries is more common than a 
special fitness for them. Often it is largely a question of 
health to keep consumptive boys, for instance, out of 
employments liable to cause phthisis, those with delicate 
chests from wet outdoor work, and those who are weak or 
small from heavy labour. Otherwise lads only suited to 
one or two jobs are very common, and a special bent of 
any kind often accompanies marked general ability. 

Such distinction as there is, indeed, usually follows 
broader lines than those of single trades or industries. The 
main division is between Manual and Clerical work, and 
this is often a very clear one. The two are sufficiently dis- 
tinct to demand powers and abilities of a different kind, 
and thus boys who would make good " tradesmen " may 
very well fail as clerks and vice -versa. Much is written 
about the prejudices felt by many parents for clerical 
employment and of the resulting mistakes, but similar 
failures are caused by the attempt to make mechanics of 
those who are unsuitable. Errors of the first kind are, per- 



haps, more numerous ; but those of the second are not 
uncommon. Anyhow as between manual and clerical 
occupations there is often marked variation in aptitudes. 
Most boys fall definitely into one or other of these classes, 
and the problem is to put each into the right one. A 
third and smaller class consists of those whose special bent is 
towards work with the pencil drawing, design, draughts- 
manship, and the like. 

Another important distinction is that between different 
levels of skill and capacity, according as they are fitted for 
highly-skilled, semi-skilled or unskilled work. Often, how- 
ever, their own choice will not correspond to this. Ex-VII 
may wish to go as an errand boy, and Standard V to be 
an engineer, and much waste of good material would result 
if they were allowed to have their way. The able boy would 
be thrown away on low-skilled labour, and the dull boy 
become the half-taught, underpaid and casual mechanic, 
of little use to himself or any one else. This distinction, 
again, is a clear and useful one. It is possible to find out a 
boy's capacity, so as to guide him into the right sort of work, 
and this will often mean going beyond the schoolroom, since 
backwardness here may accompany decided manual capacity. 
When, therefore, this has been properly tested, boys can be 
graded accordingly. 

It is on these wider lines, in fact, that their bent needs 
to be discovered and tested, and beyond them the chief point 
of importance in selecting a trade is with many to get them 
into a suitable place, and then keep them steadily at work 
in it. This will apply not only to the future skilled worker, 
but even more to those ~vvho can only hope for semi- 
skilled or unskilled jobs. Almost always the vital thing is 
to do this, and to prevent them from drifting from one job 
to another. The average boy is usually fitted for many 
things and a slight preference for one over another may be 
of small importance compared with steady and regular 
application to whatever it is. 

(c) Period of Service and Time Taken to Learn. Like 
the second, this third problem is closely connected with the 


first, since length of service depends largely on the age at 
which it begins, being probably five, six or seven years, 
according as it starts at sixteen or earlier. Again a boy who 
is bound at the later ages may already have learnt a little 
of the trade, or at least, by working at some labouring job 
connected with it, have obtained some preliminary knowledge 
which one of fourteen takes time to acquire. So, too, the 
period of service will not always be sufficient for the boy to 
learn the whole of his trade. Nevertheless, modern conditions 
do frequently make it difficult to acquire it completely 
in a single shop, and the shorter period which is sometimes 
stipulated for in the Indenture meets this difficulty by allow- 
ing the extra year or two to be spent in finishing the training 
elsewhere. Sometimes special short Indentures are arranged 
to procure this. Finally the conditions accompanying the 
less formal Regular Service, and still more Migration, may 
necessitate a longer period than formal Apprenticeship 
would require. 

The whole problem is greatly affected by alterations in 
methods of production and by the development of the wage- 
contract, under which boys are paid their value as workmen 
and learn as best they can. The former has in some cases 
reduced the amount of skill needed to the semi-skilled level, 
but does not necessarily mean that a whole trade thus loses 
its skilled character. Sometimes it does so, as in some parts 
of the manufacture of light leather, where improvements in 
machinery have very greatly simplified matters. In book- 
binding, again, publishers' work has been divided into a 
number of semi-skilled jobs, whilst the other branches 
remain as skilled as before, and in some other trades only 
certain sections of the work are affected, and that chiefly 
in the larger establishments. Some of the machine-men in 
engineering may be quoted as an instance of this. Or 
thirdly, the development of an industry may create new 
semi-skilled processes which did not exist before. In every 
such case the result is that for these processes the old period 
of training ceases to be required, since the new kinds of 
work can be learnt in quite a short time, and a new grade 
of labour partly or wholly replaces the old. 


Secondly, changes in methods of production influence 
other trades in various ways, but without producing so 
marked an effect. Sometimes they have limited the skill 
required, and at others have merely altered its character 
or changed the mode of acquiring it. With some of the 
commoner and cheaper work much less of it is now needed, 
more particularly where, as in joinery and cabinet-making, 
the parts are prepared so completely by elaborate machinery 
that they only need to be fitted together by hand. This, 
however, does not apply to the better-class work to any- 
thing like the same extent. 

A more frequent tendency of machine production is to 
produce a concentration of skill, the work done covering 
a narrower range but reaching a higher level. Greater 
rapidity of execution, fineness, and accuracy are needed, 
and these compensate for any loss in other directions. An 
elementary example of this is found in the separation of 
fitters and turners in large engineering establishments. 
Again, as also in engineering, a reduction of manual skill 
may be compensated for by the need for increased intelli- 
gence and a higher level of technical and scientific knowledge. 
Thirdly, the use of machinery may even increase the 
dexterity needed by taking over the simple processes and 
performing them more quickly and with fewer men, but re- 
quiring greater skill in its manipulation than the handwork 
did. This so far has been the result of the introduction 
of the Linotype in Printing. 

Lastly, less may have to be learnt and yet the trade be 
more difficult to learn than before. The simpler and rougher 
processes are usually the first to be taken over by machinery, 
and when they are done by hand, many of them are the 
natural things on which to start a boy. Thus the later ones 
are more difficult to learn now that this stepping stone to 
them has. been removed. Hence in these various ways 
changes in method of production, resulting from the use 
of machinery and other industrial developments; frequently 
alter the character of the skill required instead of reducing 
its amount ; and if the creation of new processes is omitted, 


the extent to which the latter has taken place is not very 
large. Thus on the whole changes in methods of production 
do not seem to have reduced appreciably the length of 
time required to master a craft. Consideration of the effect 
of the wage contract must be postponed until after that of 
the actual practice of to-day. 

Turning to this, therefore, we find no uniform period of 
service, and London conditions appear to render the applica- 
tion of one to all industries impossible. Moreover, there is 
no uniformity even in each separate trade and sometimes 
different lengths of service will be adopted for different boys 
within the same firm. The age at which an indenture was 
signed often settles the matter, and as boys start at different 
ages, their service varies accordingly. 

Trade Union policy also fluctuates . Rules are most strict 
in Printing. The compositors enforce successfully the full 
seven years, and the lithographers have a rule to this effect, 
but in practice accept five. With the machine-minders and 
stereotypers the full seven years are strictly adhered to 
and both these bodies have been successful in securing this. 
But otherwise the longer period is seldom enforced, among 
the Unions that require it being the journeymen curriers 
and the paintbrush makers. 

Perhaps the most common policy is to demand a minimum 
of five years, but to raise no objection to six or seven. Some 
of the smaller societies, including that of the Brushmakers, 
require five years' actual Apprenticeship, but most of the 
Unions follow the example of the Amalgamated Society of 
Engineers and accept five years' work at the trade, and in 
practice this condition can be satisfied in different ways. 
With the engineers, the requirements of the Board of Trade 
for the Sea-going Engineers Certificate help to maintain the 
predominance of regular service in a single firm. The boiler- 
makers also fix five years in a single shop, but in certain 
cases allow the apprentice a further twelve months, in which 
to get his full money. Many Unions, however, either do 
not possess any rules on this subject, or leave them to be 
arranged by the different localities, and in the London 


District no stipulation appears in the working rules of most 
of the Building Trades. 

There is no great uniformity in the methods favoured by 
employers, but three different arrangements are common, 
namely seven years, five years, and until the learner is 
twenty-one. Periods of six years are sometimes found in 
individual shops, but are not common. The habit of bind- 
ing till twenty-one is popular in some large Building firms 
and is not uncommon elsewhere, and where it exists it pro- 
duces much variety of practice even within a single firm. 
Service for seven years is markedly predominant in Printing, 
but otherwise only in a few small and highly skilled 
trades like saddlery and coppersmithing, and in the higher 
branches of some others, notably bookbinding, whilst else- 
where it is adopted by a few individual employers, either 
because they are doing particularly good work or for special 

On the whole, however, five years is undoubtedly the most 
favoured period. It certainly is so in engineering, where 
a good many firms, chiefly the larger ones, do not take their 
boys before they are sixteen. Both in building and wood- 
working it is very common, the numerous small shops in the 
latter usually preferring it. Again, in art metal work, both 
such regular agreements as there are and the less definite 
understandings which are usual, last for this length of time. 
Moreover two of the most vigorous institutions engaged 
in placing learners the Apprenticeship and Skilled Employ- 
ment Association, and the Jewish Board of Guardians- 
choose as a rule to bind for five years rather than for seven. 

Finally, shorter Apprenticeships, though not yet very 
numerous, are becoming more so and often are better suited 
to the new developments of industry. Boys need a wider 
experience than a single firm can give them, and, if bound 
for four years to be grounded in their trade, can afterwards 
obtain this in other shops. At present, however, it is only 
in Engineering that such a device is being definitely taken 
up, but individual firms are utilizing it elsewhere ; and 
not a few who do not formally adopt it are advocating its 


use, or are refusing to bind their boys at all, so that they 
may be free to move on after three or four years. 

For these reasons, therefore, the period of service is 
being somewhat reduced, but this reduction is by no means 
a new thing. As early as 1814, a few trades were substituting 
five years for seven, and the tendency had spread far by the 
time the sixties were reached. Present conditions are 
even more varied if consideration is given to the time a 
boy actually takes to learn rather than to the length of 
service. So far it has only been possible to consider cases 
where some form of agreement exists ; for obviously with 
Migration and Working and Learning no fixed periods 
are possible. In any case, except with a full seven years 
or with Technical Training before Apprenticeship, as in 
engineering, further work as an improver is usually needed 
before the learner can become fully competent. 

Once more no general rule can be discovered, but the whole 
process will generally take about seven years. A few of the 
skilled trades require either less or more ; and the time 
differs so much from one individual to another that, as many 
foremen insist, it is often difficult to strike an average 
bet ween them. One boy will learn more in five years than 
another will in ten, but six or seven will most nearly re- 
present this average. The lad either serves the longer period 
or works for an extra year or two as an improver at something 
below the full rate. What he has still to learn after he 
comes out of his time will vary, but he will probably have 
to perfect himself in certain things, and in any case will take 
time to acquire the experience and self-confidence of the 
seasoned workman. 

Moreover, the conditions under which boys learn often 
cause them to take longer to do so than the mere teaching 
of the work would require. Perhaps the most important 
of these is what I have called the Wage Contract, under 
which they are paid as much as they are worth and left 
to do the best they can for themselves. This also exists in a 
modified form in the case of many who are engaged definitely 
as learners. They likewise often get nearly their full value 


and pay no premium. They have, therefore, to make 
themselves generally useful, running errands and so on in 
their first year or two, for instance, in order that they may 
earn their wages. Hence their progress is likely to be 
slower. The employer cannot afford to spend so much on 
teaching them or to treat them solely as learners, and thus 
they learn less quickly than under the older conditions. 
Others start simply at the errands with a tacit understanding 
that they shall be promoted if they are capable and indus- 
trious, and yet others spend part of the day at this and the 
rest at the bench. In every case there is delay and the 
time taken to learn is lengthened, because it is not devoted 
solely to learning. Obviously also this obtains to a far 
greater extent where the boy is simply employed and paid 
for his work, both in the case of Migration and in that of 
Working and Learning under Regular Service. 

This is undoubtedly one of the most important and wide- 
spread of the influences that are operating in this direction, 
but there is another which is scarcely less potent, namely 
that Subdivision of Output, which causes each firm to pro- 
duce only one or a few articles. Hence to learn the whole 
trade, a boy must move about and work in several shops, 
according to the process that prevails in cabinet-making. 
Indeed the Wage Contract usually accompanies this, and is 
in some cases the result of it. For the lad is wanted not to 
learn, but to make a certain article, and he is paid for what 
he does. 

These influences, therefore, lead to a considerable loss of 
time in learning, and this is often inevitable, not only 
as a result of periods of idleness between different jobs, 
but because those who are learning in this way often stay 
longer at each part of the work than they require to learn 
it. Either they wait until a good opening presents itself 
elsewhere, or, being content with their conditions, are in no 
hurry to leave. Moreover they cannot fit their work exactly 
to the need of learning a trade. They must take what jobs 
they can get, and the fresh knowledge each one gives will 
not always be in proportion to the time they spend upon it. 


Finally since they are paid their full value, the employer 
must keep them at work qn which they can earn their money, 
and so further delay is caused. This is, perhaps, even more 
true of the plumbers' mate, who has often a greater difficulty 
in getting an opening to start with the tools than does the 
ordinary boy improver ; and he may continue to work for 
some years as such before his chance comes. All these, 
things, therefore, increase the time that is required to learn 
a trade under modern conditions, and because it is wasted, 
much longer is often taken than would be necessary under 
a more regular system. 

This brings up for solution another problem. Allowing 
for shorter periods of actual service, and for the time that is 
thus wasted or otherwise occupied, does the actual learning 
now take longer than it used to do, or not so long ? Or, 
to put it in another way, do the trades of to-day require a 
lower level of skill than formerly ? On the spur of the 
moment an affirmative answer is often given, based on the 
increasing numbers employed in semi-skilled processes, 
on the various devices for simplifying the work of others, and 
on the greater separation, as with carpenters and joiners, of 
different branches of a trade. The question, however, 
cannot be disposed of so easily, and there is much in support 
of the contrary view. 

First of all, the development of new industries has multi- 
plied the number of trades and processes and further diversi- 
fied them. Hence the additional semi-skilled workers are 
engaged largely on new processes or on others formed by the 
separation from a skilled industry of certain fractions of its 
work. Some direct displacement of artisans there has been, 
though less than is usually supposed ; and semi-skilled 
machine-men have also replaced workers of an even lower 
grade, doing the heaviest and least skilled drudgery. So 
far, therefore, there seems to have been no great loss on 
balance. Probably the number of skilled workmen is 
larger than ever before, and that of the semi-skilled very 
much larger. Both, that is to say, have increased, but the 
latter the more rapidly of the two, and if there has been 


any absolute decrease, it is probably in the lowest grades of 
labour. As Sir Benjamin Browne told the Poor Law 
Commission, " there is less room now than ever before for 
the absolutely unskilled man, for we specialize more." 
Nor must it be forgotten that some in the intermediate grade 
possess capacity that is not very much below that of many 
tradesmen. Lastly it is sometimes maintained that the 
semi-skilled man of to-day reaches the same level as the 
mechanic of a previous generation, and the latter a far 
higher one. This would involve a general rise in the level of 
skill ; and in many trades that of each particular grade is 
certainly higher than formerly. 

Secondly, where certain processes have been taken over 
by semi-skilled workers, the trade affected would seem to be 
necessarily less skilled than before, but this ignores the 
important fact that the level of skill has to be taken into 
account as well as its range. The workman may have to do 
less, but may also have to do it better ; and this is what 
actually happens. The skilled trades of to-day require 
greater perfection of workmanship than they used to do 
great fineness, accuracy, rapidity of output and so on. Thus, 
where certain forms of work are done by a different grade, 
or processes formerly combined are separated, there are 
compensations in these other directions. The higher level 
of skill, in short, offsets its narrower range. 

Thirdly, there is greater gradation of skill than ever before, 
and this often produces the appearance of a decline. Differ- 
ent branches of a trade are getting more differentiated. 
For instance, when all kinds of bookbinding were done in a 
single firm, a man was required to turn his hand to every- 
thing. Now some shops specialize on leather binding and 
others on jobbing or vellum-binding, whilst publishers' 
work is done on a large scale by machinery. Thus there are 
three separate classes highly skilled, skilled and semi-skilled, 
instead of only one. As a result, therefore, the level of skill 
appears to have declined. In reality, it is as high as before, 
though more carefully graded. The best workmen are 
confined to the best work, the ordinary skilled men to 


jobbing, and so on ; and as a result every branch of it is 
better done than before, and those who are doing it reach 
a higher level at their particular job. 

Fourthly, even allowing for waste of time, the actual period 
of service required in most trades is probably shorter than 
formerly, but this is made up for in various ways. Some boys 
are better prepared for learning before their service begins. 
Many of them do temporary boys' work about a trade for a 
year or two before it starts, and so know a good deal that 
an apprentice, coming fresh to it, will take some 
time to find out. With the longer period, both now and 
formerly, the younger boy spends some time making himself 
useful and getting used to shop conditions, and if straight 
from school, does not at once settle down to his work. 
The boy of to-day has already mastered these preliminaries 
and knows his way about, and thus saves himself and 
his employer a good deal of time.. 

Again, much of the simpler boys' work to which learners 
were first put, and which was often reserved for them, is now 
done by machinery ; and the fact that there are few suitable 
jobs to put them to, is one of the reasons why employers are 
less eager to take young boys. This means, therefore, that 
there is less to learn than formerly in the easier branches, 
and as much as before in the more skilled ones . Hence the 
training afforded by this preliminary work is no longer 
given, and trades so affected thus prove more difficult 
to learn and require older boys. In fact, learning is a 
shorter business, but, while it lasts, a harder one. 

Finally, whilst less has to be learnt, it requires to be 
learnt more perfectly. Not so much time is now spent in 
actually learning a trade, and more in perfecting what has 
been learnt ; and this perfection comes gradually by practice 
and experience. Apprenticeships as a result tend to be 
shorter, work as an improver to last longer. Wide skill 
of a moderate level comes once for all during the former, 
but perfection in a higher grade only after a sfow ripening of 
the powers. A shorter period of service, therefore, does 
not necessarily involve a lessening of skill, when so much is 
still left to be acquired after its conclusion. 


For all these reasons it is probable that the skill necessary, 
and the time taken to learn, have not decreased, though the 
period of service may have done so ; and in some cases the 
greater technical and scientific knowledge of to-day really 
involve a higher general capacity. Further, any decline in 
the level is likely to be not an absolute one, but due to 
changes in the relative numbers employed in the different 
grades. If it has taken place at all, it arises out of the 
fact that the semi-skilled processes employ a larger share 
than formerly of the working population, and that their 
increase has been more rapid in proportion than that of 
the higher ranks. Upon these points, however, and more 
particularly upon the latter, no confident answer can be given. 

Within each class, on the other hand, the level has pro- 
bably been raised. There may be fewer fitters in proportion 
than formerly and more machine-men, but both fitter and 
machine-man are better workmen than they used to be. 
Hence, even if this comparative increase in some of the 
lower ranks of labour is an actual fact, the general improve- 
ment in the skill of all grades has to be set against it, and the 
net result is improvement rather than diminution. 

One reservation must be made, however. So far the 
question has been of what is required of a competent work- 
man, and not of the skill actually possessed by the rank and 
file. For here it is probable that defective methods of 
training and other influences cause far too many to grow up 
insufficiently trained for their different tasks, and that 
the number of these is increasing. Their need of thorough 
training is greater than formerly, and probably what they 
actually get is inferior, and one of the most disastrous 
results of our existing lack of method is that it has 
failed to provide fully for the higher standard of to-day. 
In short, the skill needed is no less than it was, but the need 
is less well provided for. 

(d) Preference and Heredity. The questions of Preference 
and Heredity a*ffect considerably not only the suitability of 
different boys for different jobs, but the whole problem of 
recruiting. They may be defined as follows : Preference 


means the taking by an employer of sons or relatives of his 
own workpeople rather than others, and Heredity the recruit- 
ing of trades from the sons or relatives of those engaged 
in them, which includes the further question of hereditary 
capacity to exercise them. 

The former does not confer any right like that of Patri- 
mony or that given by some Trade Unions to their members 
to teach one or more of their sons without binding them. 
The individual firm does not admit the possession by its 
workmen of the right to put their boys into its vacancies. 
It retains for itself the power of deciding in each case, though 
sometimes a refusal is practically impossible. The Water- 
men, perhaps, provide the nearest approach to a right, and a 
few Trade Unions, I believe, try to reserve openings for 
sons of their members generally, but not necessarily of those 
employed in a particular shop. Otherwise employers 
retain their freedom of action, and many men prefer to 
place their boys elsewhere. 

Such a right was far more common in the past when a 
man not only brought his sons into the workshop but taught 
them himself. Now, even when they are employed in the 
same firm, they seldom work together. When they do, the 
father is usually a small employer or a workman just setting 
up for himself, so that his position is rather different, 
since he is either training the lad in order that he may 
succeed him in the business, or else is giving him a start 
in this way, with a view to getting him into a bigger firm 
later on as an improver. Foremen again sometimes teach 
their own sons, but some of them choose to put them under 
another man. So too in Folio wing-Up a lad will not seldom 
start as mate or assistant to his father, and where piece- 
work is common, as in the wholesale Cabinet Trade, men 
take their boys to help them, whilst among the Watermen 
a good many are apprenticed to their fathers. Otherwise 
father and son only work together in individual cases and 
comparatively few firms encourage such arrangements. 
Where a preference is given, however, it will often be made 
a condition that a man looks after his boy if necessary, 


and sometimes they are put together till the latter gets used 
to the work. 

Most employers give some sort of preference to their 
men's sons, and this will frequently be extended to include 
other relatives. Neither is it confined to mechanics, but 
embraces clerks, warehousemen, labourers and carmen; 
and thus they give men in the lower grades a better chance 
of getting their sons into skilled work. Carmen seem parti- 
cularly successful in placing their boys in good trades, 
thanks partly to the large number of firms with whom their 
job brings them into contact, whilst men in the Building 
Trades, who move about a great deal, often provide for 
them either with old employers or with those engaged in 
different branches who are working on the same contract. 

Some shops, moreover, give not only preference for 
vacancies, but more favourable terms of employment, as 
when their men are excused the payment of a premium 
or allowed to pay at a reduced rate. One big firm, indeed, 
demands a very heavy one from all others in order to dis- 
courage applications from outside. Or again, sons of 
their employes may be taken on without an indenture, or 
allowed, when others are not, to enter their service as 
improvers, or to come and go with their fathers. 

The actual extent of such preference varies. A few 
employers try to fill all their vacancies from the families of 
their own men, some getting more than they want in this 
way and others failing to get sufficient. Much depends on 
the prospects of the trade in the near future, since a bad 
outlook deters a man from putting his sons into it. A more 
common practice is to inform them of vacancies and give 
them the option of filling them, whilst also receiving outside 
applications or promoting smart errand boys. Others, again, 
confine the preference to foremen and old and respected 
workmen, in whose case, indeed, it may not be easy to refuse 
it. Some also take such a lad if there happens to be an 
opportunity, but will not upset existing arrangements for 
his benefit. A few give no preference at all or even try to 
avoid taking their men's sons, either because they think 


them likely to do better away from their fathers, or because 
of the difficulty of getting rid of them if they are unsatis- 
factory ; but such are not very numerous. Finally, a good 
many have no definite policy in the matter. The great 
majority, however, do give some sort of preference, if only 
to the extent of trying to oblige any well-conducted work- 

Frequently, indeed, none is asked for and employers not 
seldom say that " a case has never arisen " or that the grant 
of it is not taken advantage of. Many men prefer a different 
trade for their boys, others merely a different shop, and the 
reasons for this can best be discussed as part of the general 
question of heredity. 

There is less of this latter in London than might be 
expected, and its importance there is reduced by certain 
special influences. The happy-go-lucky selection of occu- 
pations causes many to enter those to which they are 
not best suited, and any marked capacities in their sons is, 
therefore, as likely as not to be for something else. Others, 
again, have no special aptitude for one trade rather than 
another, and their boys will probably be much the same. 
Finally, its industries are so many and so scattered that 
interchange between them is far more likely to take place 
than in towns in which one or two are predominant. 

As a result there is little doubt that in London children 
follow their parents less frequently than elsewhere, 
Employers and foremen, even where only a few apprentices 
are taken, often experience difficulty in getting sufficient 
from among the sons of their own men, whilst those who can 
get more of them than they want, usually employ very 
few. Moreover, where sons do largely follow their fathers, it 
will generally be found either that the trade is a specially 
prosperous one into which everybody is trying to enter, or 
that the firm has an exceptionally good reputation. It is 
true that heredity is somewhat more marked in the localized 
industries, such as the manufacture of leather. But even 
allowing for this and for those who go into different work- 
shops in the same trade, or who enter closely allied ones, 


the proportion of lads who follow their fathers is small. 
As illustrating this the following table analyses the cases 
of some eighty-seven learners whom I was privileged to 
interview at various Trade Schools : 

Father in the trade- 
As Employer . . . . .8 

As Foreman ...... 2 

As Journeyman . . . . 15 

Other Relatives in the trade 

As Employer ...... i 

As Journeyman or Apprentice . . 7 


In Cognate Trade to Father's ... 10 

No connexion with Father's Trade ... 44 


No family connexion, therefore, could be found in just 
over half these cases, but in many of the remainder there 
is no certain proof of heredity. Those in which the father 
is a small employer or foreman are peculiar first, because the 
opportunities for teaching are specially favourable, and, 
secondly, because, where the father has a business of his 
own, boys are put into it, who would not be if they were the 
sons of journeymen. Moreover, such boys are probably 
much over-represented at the schools, in proportion to the 
numbers who are so situated. Again, in the case of brothers, 
it will often happen that the elder one has succeeded in a 
different trade than that of his father ; nor does a closely 
allied employment mean much, since many will put a lad 
into any job, provided it is not their own. Hence the 
true proportion of hereditary cases is likely to be very much 
less than that shown in the table. 

If, however, statistical measurement is difficult, there is 
more ample general evidence as to the facts. This prefer- 
ence for other trades is due to a number of causes apart from 
those already mentioned. The matter varies with the state 
of trade. The Boilermakers' Union tries to reserve as many 
vacancies as possible for sons of its members, and in the 


Engineering Trades generally men try to secure them, but 
have to face very keen competition from outsiders. In 
Printing heredity seems to be marked with the machine- 
managers, with the young and growing branch of stereo- 
typers, and, to a smaller extent, in lithography. It is much 
less so with compositors, whose trade has tended to become 
over-stocked. Comparatively few boys, on the other hand, 
follow their fathers into the Building Trades, except with 
plasterers, masons and possibly plumbers, or into the 
woodworking group. The Art Metal Trades occupy an 
intermediate position. 

Secondly, men are being increasingly influenced by any 
special disadvantages attaching to particular callings as 
they come to realize these more clearly. Thus the fear of 
the displacement of hand labour by machinery has largely 
influenced woodworkers, and even during the Building boom 
previous to 1900 restricted, though it did not altogether 
prevent, the increase in the number who took up joinery. So , 
again, trades are being avoided in which, as in painting or 
bricklaying, there is much 'seasonal or general irregularity 
of employment or where, as with silversmiths, the former is 
becoming more marked. 

Thirdly, a great many appear to have a prejudice against 
their own trade and to prefer anything but that, especially 
if they themselves have not been very successful at it. 
They realize its disadvantages, but not those of other jobs, 
and therefore try at all cost to place their boys elsewhere, 
whilst sons of mechanics in poor circumstances may have to 
take up highly paid labouring work. On the other hand, 
those who have done well may make their boys follow 
in their footsteps, but many successful artisans, though 
not perhaps so many as formerly, hope to raise them still 
higher by putting them into clerical employment. More- 
over, apart from the necessary interchange between different 
industries, the number and scattered character of those 
of London always give a man plenty to choose from besides 
his own, and this has a similar effect. A boy is far more 
likely to go to a trade that is not his father's than in places 


where a few industries employ the bulk of the population. 

Finally, several reasons are leading the workmen to 
choose different shops in their own trade. Sometimes they 
think that others can give a wider and more varied experi- 
ence than their own ; and even more frequently they feel 
that they are better apart, that the boy ought to fight his 
own battles, and that he will do more for himself under a 
stranger. Such reasoning is common and implies on the 
father's part neither dislike nor distrust of his own firm. 

(e) Wages. The question of learners' wages, especially 
at the start, is an important one, more particularly in their 
relation to those of unskilled boy labour, as a result of the 
superior attraction given, or said to be given, by the higher 
earnings of the latter. The difference between the two, how- 
ever, at any rate in London, is not nearly so great, nor are the 
initial wages of the former so low, as is very generally sup- 
posed. The great variety of methods considerably complicates 
matters. Some boys do not go to their trade as soon as they 
start work, but later, when their greater age and strength 
often help them to command better money. Others 
start to work at their trade before they start to learn it and 
their wages, even if they are apprenticed, will usually, 
though not always, be fixed by what they were before and 
not by the ordinary apprentices' rate. Others again, as in 
silversmithing and trunk-making, will combine the two, 
spending part of their time at the errands and the rest at the 
bench. Thus apart from the helper or assistant in folio wing- 
up, boys start to learn in three ways : as definite apprentices 
or learners, at boys' jobs learning in their spare time, and at 
pure boys' work that leads later on to learning. The two 
latter methods are growing. The definite learner, therefore, 
comes into competition with them, and this competition 
has tended to raise his wages nearer to theirs, especially 
where he has already worked in the shop in some other 
capacity. In some cases, however (especially in those of 
boys brought into the firm from outside), they may at sixteen 
still have to accept the wage of an ordinary apprentice in his 
first year. Finally the increase in the wage-contract has 


forced up the rates paid to learners, though these remain 
lower than those of boy labourers. 

Methods of Wage Payment fall into three main classes 
Fixed Time Wages, Time Wages varying with the value of 
the work, and Piece Wages. In the first case, but not in the 
other two, there is usually an accepted scale for all boys, 
rising each year by a definite amount. It is generally a 
weekly wage, it is sometimes supplemented by certain 
additional payments, and is often payable during holidays 
and sickness, at least when these are of short duration. 
Hourly wages are usually higher, but to prevent slackness 
are only paid for the time actually worked. 

Fixed Time Wages take various forms. First, there is 
the uniform rate, most common with bound Apprentices 
and the more formally engaged learners. With this there 
is an agreed rate of increase each year. Sometimes this is 
2s. or 2s. 6d. a year throughout, but at others it may begin 
with only is. a year and rise later by 2s. 6d., 35. or 45., and 
occasionally in the last year of a long apprenticeship by as 
much as 6s. or 75. Variations according to character and 
progress are not recognized, and some firms adhere strictly 
to these rates, finding that to discriminate causes jealousy. 
Others, however, will in practice give an additional rise to 
satisfactory boys. Again, with some learners employed 
" during good behaviour, " there is often an informal under- 
standing, as in silversmithing, that a boy shall receive 
a uniform rate and a fixed annual rise as long as he stays ; 
5s. a week to start, with 2s. 6d. a year or is. every six months, 
is most usual. As the boy is not bound, however, alterations 
are easier than with apprentices. The employer may have 
to concede an additional rise to keep him, or may be able 
to refuse or delay the ordinary one if he does not give 

A fixed wage, however, will often be supplemented in- 
various ways. Sometimes a definite additional weekly pay- 
ment may be made, either at once or after the first year or 
two, in return for good conduct and progress. This may 
take the form either of an increase of the weekly wage or a 


bonus or other payment in proportion to the output. The 
latter usually depends on how much a boy can turn out above 
a certain minimum amount, and, like piece-work payments, 
is apt to tempt him to keep to forms of work at which he can 
earn a high bonus instead of acquiring an alround know- 
ledge of the business. 

The other method of supplementing wages is more satis- 
factory and finds its best illustration in the Good Conduct 
Money paid in the Printing Trades, which is, or can be, with- 
held if satisfaction is not given. Usually it consists of an 
additional 2s. a week on the wages specified in the indenture, 
the two together often amounting to 8s. in the first 
year. Sometimes, however, it is only is. a week at the 
start or is not paid at all till the second year. In one case 
the payment consisted of wage and conduct money in equal 
amounts, the two combined being 6s. in the first and 8s. in 
the second. The method is, as a rule, very successful, so 
much so that the payment is seldom withheld, and it is 
perhaps the best way of keeping an apprentice up to the mark . 

Lastly, whilst a wage is fixed for each year of service, 
additional money is, or may be, given, if the boy is worth it. 
I came across one indenture, for instance, where the ap- 
prentice " may be paid something over and above his agreed 
wages, but this shall not be paid as of right." More often 
there is a verbal promise to this effect, or the boy is led to 
understand that his chance of such a thing depends on him- 
self. Frequently, however, a firm simply gives the additional 
rise when it thinks fit, or the boy asks for one and gets it, 
especially if he can go elsewhere if it is refused. The 
result, therefore, is a fixed minimum wage supplemented by 
additional payments according to circumstances. 

The second class of wage payment consists of a Time Rate 
varying from one boy to another according to the value of 
their work. In this case, when a lad is put to the bench, 
the foreman decides what he is worth, and pays him accord- 
ingly. After this his money rises according to his ability, 
and not to any fixed scale. Thus two boys may start at the 
same age, tjie same time, and the same rate, and yet after 


a few years be earning very different amounts. This is 
common in the Building Trades where youths of twenty 
often get high wages. It is thus a payment fixed in advance, 
according to an estimate of the work likely to be done, 
some allowance for the trouble and loss involved in teaching 
being usually made. This method is common with Migra- 
tion and the less formal kinds of Regular Service and, where 
there is no agreement, with Folio wing-Up. Payment by the 
hour is usual, with no allowance for loss of time, and the 
boy is paid not only for the value of his work but for the 
actual duration of it and no longer. 1 Sometimes these 
two methods are combined, and a fixed weekly wage is paid 
for the first few years and later an hourly one, rising 
according to " what he is worth." 

Payment of learners by the piece is not common, even 
when it is usual with the journeymen, and where it is found 
it sometimes takes a special form. Thus in Engineering a 
boy may be set to assist a gang or squad on piece, who will 
pay him a time wage and make what they can out of him. 
Improvers, on the other hand, will more usually follow the 
custom of the shop in which they are employed. In a few 
cases, however, apprentices and learners are paid in this 
way, though to begin with they often get a time wage until 
they know something about the work. Then they get a 
fraction of the men's rate. To illustrate this method 
of payment the cases of the Fleshers, Brushmakers and 
Tinplate Workers may be described. 

With the former learners are apprenticed to the men's 
Union at the age of eighteen for a period of four years 
and are put in charge of a particular man. The recognized 
rate of pay is so much per 100 skins (45. 6d., for instance, 
for sheep- skins) , and the apprentices get a lower one. The 
difference between the two is divided equally between the 
man and the firm, to compensate for trouble and spoilt 
material respectively. 

In the Pan and Hair work in Brushmaking, the boy works 

1 With the possible exception of public holidays. 


for three or less frequently six months at one branch with a 
journeyman, who teaches him and gets the benefit of his 
earnings. Often, though not always, he receives no wages 
during this period, or only what the man chooses to allow 
him. After this he is put on half piece-rates, which later on 
are sometimes raised to two-thirds. Then when he has 
served half his time, the same process is repeated with the 
other branch of the business. In Paint Brush work, where 
seven years, and not five, are the rule, the rates paid are 
usually higher. 

Finally in Tinplate Working the practice varies, as some 
firms pay time wages throughout. In the majority, indeed, 
these only last for about two years, till the boy knows 
enough to go on piece work. The rates paid vary from one- 
third to half of the ordinary ones to begin with, and later on 
from half to two-thirds. Outside these trades, however, 
payment of learners in this way is not often found except in 
individual firms, but it is far more common with improvers. 

In London boys' wages, both with learners and labourers, 
are well above the average and, as already stated, the differ- 
ence between those of the two classes is less than might be 
supposed. On this matter the working of the London Labour 
Exchanges has brought to light some interesting facts. 
One sub-manager declared that the wages offered, where 
there was opportunity to learn, were a revelation to him. He 
put the usual rates at from 55. to 75. to begin with for the 
former and from 6s. to 8s. for the latter. The comparison 
is somewhat affected by the high wages paid to apprentices 
in some big firms, but on the average the difference is pro- 
bably not more than 2s. a week. Similarly the Skilled Employ- 
ment Associations have found that a learner, especially if pre- 
pared to make himself generally useful, should be able to 
secure a starting wage of 55., and with some exceptions my 
own experience confirms this. Less may have to be accepted, 
however, by some bound apprentices, by those employed in 
some small struggling firms which only offer 45., and by some 
of those engaged upon high-class work, or where expensive 
materials are used. On the other hand, some boy labourers, 


especially errand boys in small shops, get no more than 
5s. a week. 

The approximation of the learner's wage to that of the 
errand boy in a small shop is the result of several causes. 
First, the shop boy working his way up to the bench or 
spending part of his time at it, is growing more and more 
common ; and, secondly, employers of other learners are 
coming to use them in this way for the first two years and so 
have raised their wages accordingly. Hence the existence of 
this alternative way of acquiring the trade, and the increasing 
amount of labouring work that they do, have improved 
their pecuniary position, whilst causing them often to take 
longer to get f full money. Thirdly, the wage-contract has 
extended itself to the apprentice and learner, not quite to 
the same extent as with Migration, but still to a considerable 
degree. Thus their earnings in their earlier years now 
approximate far more nearly to their value as workers, 
and as a consequence, the employer does not undertake 
to do as much as before in the way of teaching them. When, 
further, the conditions do not allow, as often they do not, 
of a full knowledge being acquired in a single firm, there is 
much to be said for such an arrangement. The result of 
these various causes, therefore, is that where the errand- 
boy with a chance to learn gets from 55. to 75., the learner 
as a rule gets at least 55., so that in most London trades 
initial wages at fourteen are not as a rule below this, 45. 
being uncommon and 35. rare. The chief exceptions have 
already been described, and at the start wages are some- 
times lower when apprenticeship lasts for four years 
only. In some cases, moreover, the yearly increase may be 
bigger later on, to compensate for the lower initial rate, 
but, on the other hand, those who start fresh at fifteen or 
sixteen may have to be content with 5$. 

Five shillings a week, therefore, often constitutes a 
tacitly recognized minimum wage for learners, and this 
fact goes far to justify the parents' insistence upon it. 
Moreover its frequency shows that there is little ground for 
the fear, which is sometimes expressed, that the learning of 


a trade will involve nominal or very low initial wages. 
Even where the material is valuable, the necessity for 
these can be avoided, either, as in high-class bookbinding, 
by a seven years' apprenticeship, or, as with certain 
saddlery firms, by only raising the rate by is. a year instead 
of by two or more. With the latter a lad starts usually 
at 6s. 

Among the chief branches of skilled employment Printing 
pays, on the whole, the best wages, and these are often as 
good as those paid to ordinary boy labourers of corre- 
sponding ages. The prevalence of seven years' service gives 
the employer a longer time to recoup himself for any initial 
losses, and the greater demand for them shows the employ- 
ment of apprentices to be more profitable than elsewhere. 
Except in small offices, the wage is seldom below 6s. in the 
first year and is frequently 75. or even 8s. The latter 
appears at one time to have been the minimum in the 
large society offices, but the former is now more common. 
In the last year the wage is usually about i, but is sometimes 
more. Moreover, the actual wage is frequently increased 
by Good Conduct Money, usually of about 2s. a week, and 
sometimes by a bonus. 55. to start with is usual in Engineer- 
ing, but sometimes as much as 8s. is paid ; but here many 
boys do not commence work till fifteen or sixteen. 55. 
or 6s. again is normal in Building and Woodworking with 
occasional higher rates. In Woodcarving, for instance, 8s. 
is common, but the apprentices have as a result to do much 
labouring work for the first two years or so. In Silver- 
smithing and Art Metal, where there are many small shops, 
and in the making of leather goods, the learner usually be- 
gins as an errand-boy at 55. or sometimes in the latter at 6s. 

Interesting information as to the wages of boys are given 
in the recent series of Board of Trade reports on earnings 
and Hours of Labour in various trades in 1906 or 1907. 
The exact figures required for the purpose of estimating 
the initial wages are not available, but a sufficient approxima- 
tion to them can be obtained. The number of lads and boys 
of all kinds employed at different rates are given for the 


United Kingdom only, but the average earnings, both of 
apprentices and of other boys, in London and other import- 
ant districts, are stated separately. Moreover the Reports 
give, in almost every case for apprentices and in some 
instances for other lads, the median and the upper and 
lower quartile, 1 and this further assists us to calculate the 
proportion earning the lower rates in London. Further 
they provide separate returns for those who worked full time 
and for all boys, including those who worked more or less 
than this, and also distinguish time and piece workers. 
The figures given below refer only to time-workers who 
worked full time. Of these, taking the country as a whole, 
the percentages in different wage groups below 6s. per week 
were as follows. 


35. and 

45. and 

55. and 

Building Trades All towns ... 1-4 
Towns of more than 100,000 inhabi- 
tants 0*6 





Sawmilling 0-3 
Cabinet-making and Machined Wood- 
work 1-8 


4 -4 



Engineering and Boilermaking . . 0-3 
Shipbuilding and Repairing . . . I o-i 
Miscellaneous Metal. . .2*2 









Railway Service 0-3 
Printing 0-8 
Bookbinding .... . | 

2 *5 







Paper Stationery 0-2 
Tailoring (Bespoke) ..... '7*7 
Tailoring (Ready-made) .... 0-6 
Boots and Shoes o-i 








1 Professor Bowley defines these as follows : " When we are 
dealing with a group of persons or things, each of which possesses 
some measurable quantity, such as height or wage, we can choose 
certain quantities which describe the group in brief. Suppose all 
the items are arranged in a series in ascending order of the magni- 
tude of this attribute, the magnitude appertaining to the item half- 
way up this series is called the median. The magnitudes one- 
quarter and three-quarters up the series are called the quartiles, 



Thus, taking the whole Kingdom, very few boys earn less 
than 35. a week for full time, and the number earning 
between 35. and 45. is only considerable in Bespoke Tailor- 
ing and Cabinet Making. In eight groups out of twelve it is 
less than two per cent., and in only two cases does it exceed 
four. Even between 45. and 55. it is less than 5 per cent, 
in five cases and in four more, it ranges from 6 to just over 7 
per cent., these latter including Engineering, where the age 
of entry is usually rather later than in other industries, and 
Building. Now, except in the smaller towns and a few large 
ones where wages are low, 1 these rates are likely to be those 
of boys in their first year. Hence for all towns a boy's 
initial wage will range from 45. to 6s., from 45. 6d. to 55. 
being perhaps most common. On the other hand, these 
returns include improvers and boy labourers, and so the 
proportion of apprentices and learners who earn the lower 
rates will probably be somewhat greater, whilst the firms 
which make them will, on the whole, be paying rates some- 
what above the average. 

On the other hand, London wages for boys are as a rule 
higher and often much higher than elsewhere, as is shown 
by the following table : 








All Dis- 

Building Trades 

5. d. 

24 O 

S. d. 
IQ 6 

5. d. 
18 6 

5. d. 
14 6 


ii 8 

8 2 

7 o 

5 o 

Other Boys 

12 6 


lower and upper respectively." Thus in the case of the 10,350 
apprentices in the Building firms about whom information was 
given for the purposes of the Board of Trade Report, the wage of 
the 5, 1 75th apprentice measuring upwards represented the median, 
and the lower and upper quartiles lay between those of the 2,577th 
and 2,578th and the 7, 752nd and 7,753rd respectively. 

1 This is illustrated by the decrease in the percentages earning 
the lower rates in some of the larger towns. 


Average Wages. 

Lower i 


All Dis- 
tricts. 1 




s. d. 

9 9 
10 8 


ii 9 
ii 5 

12 II 

10 I 

12 6 

10 2 

12 2 

9 ii 

II 2 
10 2 

8 9 
10 8 


10 2 

s. d. 

9 I 
9 8 

7 6 

10 2 

8 o 

II 10 

9 3 

8 10 
8 3 

8 ii 
8 i 

8 ii 

8 2 

6 3 

8 7 

9 5 
9 9 

9 4 
10 4 

S. G 











I 8 










s. d. 

6 o 

5 ^ 
6 o 

c O 

6 o 

6 o 
5 6 

6 o 
5 o 

6 o 
5 6 

4 o 

6 o 
6 o 

6 o 

6 o 

Other Boys 

Cabinet Making and Allied 

Other Boys 

Engineering and Boilermaking 

Other Boys .... 

Railway Locomotive, Carriage 
and Wagon Shops 


Other Boys .... 


Other Boys 
Paper Stationery 
Apprentices .... 

Other Boys 

Tailoring (Bespoke) 
Apprentices .... 

Other Boys 

Tailoring (Ready-made) 

Other Boys 
Boots and Shoes 

Other Boys .... 

Thus the trades represented cover a very considerable 
part of London industry, and over so wide an area it is re- 
markable how very little difference there is between the 
wages of apprentices and other boys. In the majority of 
cases, the latter exceed the former by about is. or is. 6d. 
per week, whilst in Printing, Bookbinding and Bootmaking 
apprentices get appreciably more than others. Moreover, 
in London at any rate, this difference is caused little, if at 


all, by higher earnings on the part of the older apprentices, for 
the lower quartiles, when available, show much the . same 
differences as do the average rates, the only important 
exceptions to this being found in the case of Printing and 
Bookbinding. It should be remembered, however, that 
the phrase " other boys " includes many learners of various 
kinds, and differences in wages would probably be greater 
if the comparison were made, not, as here, between appren- 
tices and other boys, but between learners in these industries 
and boy labourers of all kinds, including shop, errand and 
messenger boys, and those in unskilled factory employ- 

Sawmilling is the only trade in which apprentices do not 
earn considerably more in London than elsewhere, the 
average being only 95. gd. as against 95. id. and the lower 
quartile 6s. 6d. as against 6s. Otherwise the difference in 
the average varies from 2s. up to 35. 8^. except in the Boot 
Trade, where it is even larger, and the lower quartile is 
usually about 2s. higher. In Building, Cabinet Making and 
Engineering it is 75., and in the Printing Group 8s. or more ; 
and it is worth noting that Cabinet Making has a large 
number earning less than 5s. in the United Kingdom as a 
whole, but that in London its lower quartile is the same, 75., 
as in Building and Engineering and its average rate very 
little smaller. In one case, however, Bespoke Tailoring, the 
tower quartile is as low as 55. so that a good proportion of 
the boys must be getting less. This is probably due to the 
high quality of much of it and to the value of its material, 
which involves payment of lower wages to apprentices. 

Hence it seems certain that with this exception few learners 
in these trades have to start at less than 55. a week in 
London, whilst other evidence suggests the existence of a 
large group there which commences at that rate. Unfor- 
tunately the Reports give no direct information on this 
point. Moreover, the small proportion of bound appren- 
tices further reduces the number of those who are likely 
to earn less, and increases that of those who get a higher 
initial wage. The available evidence, therefore, supports 


the contention that 5s. is the normal payment for a learner 
in his first year, and that anything below this is uncommon. 

The next point to be considered is the rate at which wages 
rise. This will, as a rule, be a fixed one only where there is 
some sort of agreement or understanding. Increments of 
2s. are perhaps most common with sometimes a rather 
bigger increase later on ; but with the less formal conditions 
2s. 6d. a year is not unusual. Sometimes, however, they 
only rise at first by is. annually, especially where the trade 
is an expensive one to teach, and this has to be met by a 
slower increase. On the other hand, lower initial wages 
may be compensated for by a more than usually rapid one. 
Bigger increments, moreover, are frequently given in the 
later years of service, and a rise of 55. or more in the last 
is sometimes found. But the frequency with which boys 
are paid according to their value or are given an additional 
increase above the agreed rate, if they are worth it, makes 
it impossible to say definitely what their standard will be. 
Those who are so situated usually get better wages than 
others do, but have less certainty of regular employment. 

In the last year of service, therefore, the wage varies 
enormously, both on this account and because of differences 
in its length. Usually the teaching of an apprentice involves 
some loss in the earlier part of his time, for which the em- 
ployer looks to recoup himself later on. He cannot, as a 
result, afford to pay so much, when it only lasts four or five 
years as when it continues for six or seven. This is one 
reason for the comparatively high rates prevalent in the 
Printing Trades, which in the last year are seldom below 
2is. and are sometimes as much as 255. In the Building 
Trades i8s. to i are more usual with six or seven years, and 
in Engineering, Silversmithing and the Furniture Trades 
about 155. in the last of five, though more is sometimes given. 
The normal rates, therefore, would probably be 2os. or 2 is. 
with seven years, i8s. with six and 145. or 155. with five. 
But learners of from nineteen to twenty-one who are "paid 
what they are worth " often get very much higher money, 
particularly in the Building Trades. 



Compared with past years, the wages of learners have 
undoubtedly increased, and not only are they higher to 
start with, but they progress more rapidly from year to year. 
Moreover, with some few exceptions, this improvement 
has been general and continuous for some time. Thus 
a South London Labour Exchange Official, with thirty years' 
experience of Engineering, put the wages in it at 8s. to 
commence, and 2s. or 2s. 6d. a year rise, instead of 55. and 
is. a year when he served his own time ; and whilst the 
initial wage is not generally so high as this, the rate of pro- 
gression certainly is, and both have without doubt improved 

Many of the fears entertained by parents are, therefore, 
more or less baseless, and there is not as a rule any necessity 
to accept less than 55. in order to secure a chance to learn, 
though from lack of information less will sometimes be 
taken. Many boys, however, get this rate without assist- 
ance, and the development of Juvenile Labour Exchanges 
will enormously improve their power of bargaining. Again 
the difference at the start bet ween learners' and boy labourers' 
wages is often small, notably in Building, Cabinet Making 
and probably Engineering ; and even allowing for the 
various boys' jobs not attached to any particular trade, 
for vanguards and for unskilled factory labour, it is still 
not very great and taking a general average is probably 
covered by from 2s. to 35. a week. The learner can usually, 
therefore, obtain 5s. or 6s. as against the 75. or 8s. of the 
boy labourer, and if they can get the former, many are 
ready to give up the latter in return for an opportunity to 
learn something. 

The present trouble, therefore, is due less to the actual 
wages that accompany a chance to learn than to lack of 
information as to what they are. Hence it is necessary 
not only to bring home to parents that present high wages 
may mean future low earnings, but still more to dispel the 
idea that the learning of a trade necessarily involves very 
low wages at first, or even no wages at all, when in fact a 
reasonable amount can be obtained. Often they reject the 


idea of skilled work because they think less will be offered 
than they can afford, when this is not the case. Secondly, 
the available jobs must be put within as easy reach as 
possible of the boys who need them. Thirdly, provision 
must be made for those abler children whose circumstances 
compel them to obtain good money at once ; and certain 
jobs do give this and at the same time offer means of advance- 
ment to a smart lad. Finally it will probably be desirable 
to reorganize methods of payment, either to give rather 
more at first in return for a slower rate of increase, or con- 
versely to encourage parents by offering a higher wage 
than at present in the last few years. Like many other 
things, therefore, boys' wages require to be organized and 
regularized so as to meet existing needs, and to assist their 
proper placing and training. 


Importance of way in which teaching is given in detail Employers 
undertake less than formerly Causes of This The Promise 
to Teach means less Opportunity to Learn Contract may 
only cover part of a trade Influence of rise in rates of wages. 

Responsibility for seeing a boy is taught rests mainly on 
Foreman Large and small shops compared In some cases, 
however, it must rest with the men Foreman may delegate 
actual instruction Question of time he can give to it He 
gives general supervision, help and advice. 

Different Arrangements Boy definitely in charge of a man : 
Joinery ; Following-up For how long ? Among the men 
generally Special Arrangements The Apprentices' Room with 
a man paid to teach them Its Advantages and Disadvantages- 
Amount of teaching varies as a result of various causes Teach- 
ing and Instinctive Acquirement of Knowledge Importance 
of Boy's own Behaviour. 

Mode of Acquiring a Trade General Course varies Little Boy 
made generally useful at first Strong Arguments to support 
this, if it is not too long Progress after this Trades in which 
there is a regular Progression in the work- Trades where there 
is not Illustrations : Upholstery ; Joinery ; Compositing 
Course much the same in absence of Agreement, but takes longer 
Learning falls generally into two parts : to do the work, to 
do it expeditiously. 

Payment of Foremen or Men for teaching not common 
Men's attitude usually favourable Exceptions to this and 
Reasons for them The Foremen's Position Usually do their 
work excellently. 

Defects of Existing Methods Failure to give actual teaching, 
but boy pushed on as rapidly as he can learn Failure to teach 
more than a part of the trade In the worst cases means serious 
exploitation Less serious form of it Defective teaching mainly 
due to circumstances Deliberate Exploitation not common 
Existing abuses consist chiefly of some form of over-specializa- 
tion Its Advantages and Disadvantages to Employers Not 
much to be gained by it under existing conditions in London. 

London demand is for " men, not boys " Provincial supply 



of Labour strengthens this Higher cost to employer of learners 
than formerly They are not profitable except in a few trades 
Difficulties rather that boys are not taken than that they are 
not taught. 

IN a preliminary chapter, I pointed out that two problems 
have to be distinguished, namely : how a boy learns a trade, 
and how he is actually taught it. The first of these has 
already been dealt with, and we have now reached the 
question of how knowledge of a trade is imparted in detail 
and of how a contract to do so is carried out in practice. 
This second problem is of little less importance than the 
first. Well conceived arrangements may go astray or, on 
the contrary, when a boy is left to pick up his trade as best 
he can, his employer may take so great an interest in him 
that he succeeds excellently. Very much, as a result, de- 
pends upon individuals, but still, after all allowances are 
made, the value of the teaching will, on the whole, vary with 
the excellence of the arrangements under which it is 
imparted. In other words, the general conception will affect 
the details. 

It is necessary, therefore, to ask, first of all, what it is that 
the employer undertakes to do, and what are the considera- 
tions in return for which he does it. Generally speaking, 
boys are taken under circumstances that neither bind, nor 
enable, him to give the same attention to them as in the 
past. Premiums are rare ; wages are from the very be- 
ginning much higher than formerly ; and the period of 
service is shorter. Thus the employer gets far less in return 
for teaching a boy, and the latter gets nearly his full value 
as a wage-earner, even in the case of Apprenticeships and 
other definite agreements. The effect of this upon his 
earnings has already been considered. Its effect upon 
training is that he has to do more for himself, and that his 
master has neither the means nor the obligation to give 
him as much as before. Self-interest, indeed, may lead 
him to take trouble over a smart boy in order to make a 
good profit from his last few years, but with Informal 
Regular Service this is checked by the fact that the lad 


may, and sometimes does, take himself elsewhere just as 
he is getting valuable. 

Normally, therefore, a boy can only claim " opportunity to 
learn " for himself and not definite training, and is himself 
responsible far more than he used to be for making his own 
way. If, however, this is the case where there is some form 
of contract or agreement to teach, it is still more true of 
other methods of employment, where the learner is simply 
paid for what he does and teaches himself as best he can, as 
with Migration, with Working and Learning under Regular 
Service, and sometimes with Following-Up. Modern con- 
ditions of teaching, in short, do not impose upon the 
employers the same obligations as in the past, and as a result 
they leave far more to the boy, though many of the 
former give much time and trouble to the matter, even 
when they are not really bound to do so. 

To some extent the displacement of Apprenticeships by 
less formal agreements and understandings marks this 
change ; but it is due only in part to this, and is largely 
influenced by other modern developments, such as machine- 
production and subdivision. Whatever the cause, the 
result is that a promise to teach means not only something 
different, but something less than it used to do. First, it 
is becoming much more than formerly a contract to pay 
wages, and even with formal agreements what is paid is 
often such as to preclude the devotion of the same time and 
attention to the matter. 

Secondly, what the employer undertakes is rather to give 
the boy opportunity to learn for himself than actually to teach 
him. The boy comes into the shop under certain conditions, 
is put among the men and given work to do, and, by seeing 
the men at work and getting help first from one and then 
from another, is able in time to secure promotion and 
gradually make his way. Not seldom there is not, and cannot 
be, the same systematic teaching as was once given, at least in 
many big shops. This is not entirely a question of wages, 
but in part of organization and methods of production ; and 
the latter often make it difficult to teach the whole of a 


trade in a single firm. The result was summed up as follows 
by a large firm of Builders : " We are prepared to take a 
boy and do what we can to teach him, but we always refuse, 
owing to the changed conditions of the present day, to take 
a man's money to do so." 

Thirdly, the contract to teach may not cover the whole 
of a trade, but only such parts of it as are carried out by the 
firm. In joinery, much of what is joiners' work in small 
shops is done in the machine room of the larger ones and 
cannot therefore be taught to the apprentices. In cabinet- 
making and silversmithing, only certain articles may be 
made, and so a boy can only be given such as the firm 

Again, as in Publishers' Bookbinding, a large business may 
subdivide its work among a number of comparatively 
simple processes, and in no one of them can much be taught 
because in none is there much to teach. The employer, 
therefore, only undertakes to teach such parts of the trade 
as he is engaged on. The case of Publishers' Bookbinding, 
indeed, is an extreme one in which the time for Indentured 
Apprenticeships has probably passed. But frequently the 
teaching is inevitably limited in one direction or another, 
though not to the same extent ; and this limitation has to 
be met by a reduced period of service, by Migration or 
by improved instruction in Trade Schools. 

Finally, general conditions, and not least the scale of 
wages paid, render it necessary to use boys for the first year 
or two as boy labourers. Certain rates can only be 
earned by doing, for part of the time at any rate, other 
work than that of a learner, since otherwise a firm could not 
afford to pay them. Sometimes there is even a tacit under- 
standing that this should be done, and less frequently it is a 
definite condition of employment. Boys have to earn 
their wages, and sometimes can only do so in this way, and 
where they are free to leave at any time the need for this 
will be particularly marked ; for as was pointed out by a 
prominent member of the staff of a certain Technical 
Institute : 


" The employer (in such cases) cannot afford to look ahead 
with the learner, because he has to look to the immediate return 
of each week's wages. If he loses by pushing the boy on, and 
on the first year or two there often is some loss, he cannot feel 
sure that the boy, having been made worth more than he is 
actually paid, will not move elsewhere in order to get his full 

Thus in various ways the actual agreement, or the con- 
ditions of employment where there is no agreement, commit 
the employer to less than formerly. And, on the other hand, 
a boy under modern conditions is frequently in a position 
to teach himself more than in the past. There is sometimes, 
for instance, less actual learning and more practising of 
what has been learnt, and the Trade Schools are taking an 
increasing part in the matter. Whatever the cause, there- 
fore, the fact remains that to-day a boy is paid more money 
and receives less attention. 

Coming next to actual details, the responsibility for 
teaching rests in general on the employer, and in particular 
upon the foreman, in whose charge the learner is put. Only 
a general supervision is possible for the head of a big firm 
or for the General Manager of a large Limited Company, 
engrossed, as they must be, mainly in the commercial side 
of the business. Often, therefore, the foreman has practi- 
cally a free hand, whilst the engagement and dismissal of 
workmen is frequently left to his discretion. Sometimes 
the existence of a Works Manager acts as a check upon him, 
but in many cases his power is only limited by an appeal 
to the employer in case of ill-treatment. With unbound 
learners and improvers, moreover, he may be even more 
absolute, and not only their teaching but their employment 
and wages will be left to him. He will exercise his discretion 
in raising shop boys to the bench, or in engaging improvers, 
according to^the needs^of the work, and will pay them 
" what theyjare worth. "^[Occasionally " the office " arranges 
for and controls the apprentices, but leaves the others to 
him. ^ 

In firms of moderate size, however, the partners can 


usually exercise a much stricter supervision'. The actual 
teaching is still left to the foreman or the men, but, as one 
employer said, " we are always in and out of the place and 
can see what is going on," or, in the words of another, " we 
are our own Works' Managers, and though we do not actually 
teach we are always looking after the teaching." In small 
shops, again, it is often done by the " guv'nor," or "one of the 
guv'nors," thus bringing employer and learner into close per- 
sonal contact. When the former is out, the lad will be put 
in charge of a leading hand, and may be so entirely if he has 
to be away a great deal. Where there are "two guv'nors,' 
however, one will usually look after the commercial side 
of the business and the other the workshop, with full charge 
of the boys. But even with only one employer, he will at 
least take the place of a foreman in a big shop, leaving the 
men to fill in the details. 

In some trades, indeed, especially under the method of 
Following-up, the chief responsibility must rest upon the 
men. Here a boy is far more under their control than 
under that of the foreman, and cannot be moved about 
from one to another like the ordinary apprentice. This is 
particularly true of Plumbers, for usually they are scattered 
in pairs all over a building or even over a number of buildings. 
But trades where these conditions prevail are not numerous, 
and normally the responsibility is undertaken by the 
foreman in a large, and the employer in a small, firm. 

The detailed teaching, however, may not be, and fre- 
quently is not, done by the foreman, and with a large number 
of apprentices in a shop this would be impossible. But 
the boy is put in his charge, and he makes all the necessary 
arrangements for having him taught. He chooses the 
man with whom each is to work and sees that he does his 
duty by him, or, if a lad simply works among the men, that 
he gets fair treatment from them. He probably shows him 
how to do the first piece of work, continues to help him with 
advice when in difficulties, is at hand to see he does not 
acquire wrong methods of working, and at the right time he 
puts him to new and better jobs or to do one by himself. 


He may even be given the discretion as to whether to 
pay him an extra rise in wages. That is to say, as part of 
his normal duties, he exercises general control and has to 
see that a boy is taught, whether by himself or by others. 

It is sometimes said, indeed, that foremen have no time to 
teach the apprentices, who are thus left to get along as best 
they can. The detailed teaching has certainly to be imparted 
by individual men. But experience shows that as a body 
the foremen can and do exercise an effective control, though 
some individuals among them may fail to do so. Much of 
the teaching of general principles belongs rather to the 
sphere of the Trade School, but they contrive nevertheless 
to give the boys every chance of becoming good tradesmen. 

Still the work of a foreman is limited to supervision of 
this kind and, apart from special circumstances, teaching 
is carried out in detail partly by the men and partly by 
the boy himself, the actual arrangements varying from 
trade to trade. 

Sometimes a boy is put definitely in charge of a single man. 
In joinery, for instance, "put him with a man" is the 
almost invariable answer to a question on this point ; for 
in this trade men normally work in pairs at a bench and the 
boy replaces the second man. The foreman distributes the 
work to the joiner, who gives the boy such of it as he is able 
to do and gradually brings him along, and exercises his 
discretion as to moving him about from one to another. If, 
however, the lad can get sufficient variety of work, he will 
probably stay continuously with the same man, at any rate 
for some time. Considerable responsibility, indeed, still 
rests upon the foreman . He has to see, for instance, that the 
man does his duty by the boy, and that he does not keep 
him back for fear he shall spoil the work. This method 
also obtains where Following-up prevails, and in a few cases, 
like the Fleshing of Hides, and Gold and Silver Wire Draw- 
ing, the learner is still bound direct to the journeyman. In 
other trades again, he may be in charge of two or more. 
Thus in solid plastering two plasterers may have a 
boy to help them and to learn the trade from them, whilst 


in engineering an apprentice may be set to work with a 

Few boys, however, stay with a man throughout their 
whole period of service. Sometimes they may do so for a 
considerable time, but at others only for a few months, or 
at most a year or two, and as soon as they have mastered 
the elements of a trade, they start to work by themselves. 

This is not unusual even with time wages, and is common 
where payment is by the piece. In the latter case they go 
for a few months to be taught by a man, who makes what he 
can out of them, and after this are put on piece-work at a 
fraction of the ordinary rate. 

Finally, many simply work among the men and get what 
help they can. Usually they have a man on each side of 
them at the bench to whom they can turn for assistance when 
in difficulties. Moreover, they learn a great deal, not as the 
result of direct teaching, but of keeping their eyes open, 
watching others at work, and instinctively getting to do 
what they do. 

Special arrangements are sometimes made. Certain 
firms find an older apprentice better able to teach a younger 
one than a grown man ; whilst others prefer not to do this, 
either because one boy, being as yet imperfectly taught, may 
lead the other astray, or from fear that they will get " larking 
about." More important is the provision of a separate room 
for the apprentices with a special foreman to teach them. 
To this suitable work is allotted, which has to be carried 
out at a price as in other departments ; and usually the boys 
are gradually drafted among the men in their later years. 

To make special arrangements for teaching and to provide 
a special teacher has many advantages, but the policy is 
also open to certain objections. The apprentice loses 
much from not being among the men and from not seeing 
them continually at work. He may thus miss what is one 
of the most valuable parts of his apprenticeship the 
knowledge that he instinctively acquires from watching 
skilled men at work. Instead he sees other apprentices 
who have learnt only part of the trade, and may in this 


way acquire from them wrong methods of working. This 
practice is most common in the Printing Trades, and is only 
profitable with a large number of learners. Hence the 
foreman can only give a limited time to each one of them, 
and the younger boys largely depend on the help and advice 
of the older ones. Now a youth, being inexperienced, easily 
acquires wrong notions and in teaching others passes them 
on, and the bad habits that result are often difficult to 
eradicate. In any case his help is less valuable than that of 
a skilled man. 

Moreover, a boy needs not only to learn how to do the 
work, but how to do it on business lines, that is to turn it out 
at the pace and in the way required. This he can learn best 
in the shop itself, and the methods of the apprentices' room 
may not be the same. To some extent, however, these 
defects are mitigated by drafting the boys among the men 
later on or by keeping the apprentices not in another place 
but in a different part of the room or, as in compositing, 
in the apprentices' " ship." Finally, whilst it may prevent 
a boy from running wild about the shop, this practice may 
lead to other abuses. In the Printing Trades, for instance, 
apprentices in certain firms used to be employed in this 
way in a separate department and after a short time used 
to be put on half piece-rates and encouraged thereby to 
remain at the plain book-setting, where they could earn 
good money at once, instead of learning other parts of the 
business; but this abuse is now far less common than it was. 
Altogether in estimating the value of the apprentices' room 
one strikes a nice balance of advantage and disadvantage. 

To sum up, therefore, the general supervision of a boy 
mainly rests with the foreman and the detailed teaching 
with the men. The attention that he gets varies greatly, 
partly with the terms of his service and partly with the 
character of the firm. But under modern conditions the 
boy takes and must take a considerable share in teaching 
himself, since the wages he earns necessitate this and methods 
of production make it feasible. Often he has to learn less 
and to learn it more perfectly, and therefore spends less 


time learning and more in practising what he has learnt. 
Thus the latter becomes more important than before, and a 
higher level of skill is accompanied by a narrower range. 

Secondly, actual teaching often plays a smaller part than 
the knowledge which a boy instinctively acquires by con- 
tinuously being among skilled men and seeing them at work. 
Its results may also be less permanent. When simply taught 
the right way to do something, he may very easily lapse back 
into his old wrong methods. But, having seen the men doing 
it in a certain way over and over again, he comes naturally 
to do the same, and to hold the tools and work the material 
just as they do, and as a rule he has ample opportunity to do 
this. " The boy," I was told, " has power to see for himself. 
The sensible boy keeps his eyes open and not always glued 
to his work and watches the men working and sees how they 
do it and so gets to learn." Providing he does not talk 
and waste the men's time or his own, no objection will be 
made, except in a few very bad firms, and he will thus pick 
up a lot. AS one employer put it, " this is a business affair, 
and we can't sit round in a circle holding a class, and it 
would be no good if we did/' Definite, careful, systematic 
training is still wanted, but it is wanted in the form of help, 
advice and guidance to control the boy in teaching himself, 
and some one is required to see that he does not get into bad 
habits and methods of working. Whether he does or does 
not obtain what he needs will depend largely upon himself. 

For his own behaviour will do much to determine whether 
he is pushed on or left to himself or even kept back. If he 
is civil and obliging and reasonably smart and alert, he will 
get ample assistance both from master and men. If a 
lad takes trouble about himself, others will do so for him. 
" If a boy will look after our interests," said one employer, 
" we will look after his." If, however, he is lazy and uncivil, 
foremen and men soon get tired of him and tell him to find 
out for himself, or even put hindrances in his way. At times, 
indeed, a foreman may expect too much and lose patience 
with a dull, plodding boy who is doing his best to learn. 
But normally if he does not get help, either he is not fitted 


to the trade or it is through some fault of his own. It he is 
slack, careless or unobliging, he puts everybody's back up, 
and if he does not learn the simpler work, he cannot go on 
to the more advanced ; for as one foreman put it : "If 
boys are kept back it is because they are not capable of any- 
thing better." Abuses do exist, but for much for which 
the employer gets the blame they are themselves really 

The mode of acquiring different parts of a trade may next 
be considered. The order in which boys are put through 
the work will be much the same under any method, though 
the time taken over it will vary. For in any case certain 
things have to be learnt at the beginning and others after- 
wards. The method of Folio wing-up holds, perhaps, the 
most independent position, since here they have first to 
learn how to assist a mechanic, and then how to be one. 
They start, therefore, by becoming good mates or assistants 
and serve as such. Afterwards they find opportunities to 
commence as improvers and work their way up, and even 
when apprentices are taken in these trades, their course is 
much the same. Otherwise the difference simply consists 
in the fact that some, bound apprentices for instance, have 
their progress arranged for them and that others have to 
make each stage for themselves as best they can. 

As a general rule a boy is first put to make himself generally 
useful about the shop, sweeping up, running messages, 
getting the men's dinners and so on. Thus by serving the 
men with tools and materials, he gets to know their names 
and uses. He also does certain other necessary jobs, like 
" minding the glue," and in his spare time is given simple 
work, such as sandpapering, filing-up or breaking up type. 
Thus whether engaged as an errand-boy or not, he spends his 
first six months or a year in this way, thereby acquiring 
valuable and necessary experience. A minority of firms 
regard this as waste of time and prefer to put a boy straight 
to the bench, but if it is used in moderation there is much 
to be said for it. 

Coming fresh to his trade, a lad naturally knows nothing 


about it, such manual training as he has had being of little 
direct use. He possesses at best a very slight knowledge of 
the different jobs, and none whatever of the materials. 
Now he acquires this and other preliminary information 
better and more easily when he is knocking about the shop 
than if he were tied to the bench. Above all, by being about 
among the men, he gets to know the general character and 
methods of the trade far better than if he were 
limited from the first to his one small job. When he does 
go to the bench, therefore, he has a much clearer idea of 
what the work is and grasps more easily the part played 
in it by each particular process. 

Secondly, a boy straight from school has been used to 
have plenty of exercise and variety and does not take kindly 
to sitting down all day in one place. It is far better, there- 
fore, to start him running about, with at most part time 
at the bench. Otherwise if he is tied to it all the time, the 
initial monotony may cause him to throw up the job. 
Moreover, when he starts work, his hands are soft and in- 
clined to blister, especially where it is heavy and the tools 
big and hard, and the blisters become sores if he is con- 
tinually working with them. A little time spent making 
himself useful, in short, will enable his hands gradually to 
harden and he will suffer less from blisters. 

Thirdly, the present high wages are often more than an 
employer could afford, unless he could use the boy in this 
way at first ; and, on the other hand, a lad who cannot afford 
to take small wages is thus enabled to get good money and a 
fair chance to learn a trade at the same time. Finally, this 
use of learners has the great advantage that it is not neces- 
sary to employ boys solely to do the errands without the 
chance of anything better ; and so it might even be 
beneficial if the policy of sharing them out among the 
younger apprentices could be extended. 

Hence the advantages of thus employing boys for a short 
time appear to outweigh the disadvantages, and machine- 
production often leaves so little work that is suitable for 
youngsters as to render it necessary. The question depends 


rather on how long they are kept at it, and exploitation 
consists less in its adoption than in its extension. Six 
months is certainly justifiable, but anything more than this 
would usually be too long. No hard and fast rule can be 
laid down, since the time must vary with wages and con- 
ditions of service, and according to whether a part of the 
time is, or is not, spent at the bench. Nevertheless some 
general understanding as to what under different circum- 
stances would constitute a fair period would be more 
than acceptable. 

After this the boy goes to bench or machine and gets 
work suited to his capacity. Some typical trades will be 
described, but a few salient features of his development 
may first be noticed. Sometimes, especially with skilled 
machine trades, there is a kind of natural progression from 
one job to another. The boy is moved from "feeding," 
" pulling-out," and such like, to work the simplest machine, 
then he is promoted to rather a more difficult one and so 
throughout the business. Instances of this are afforded by 
woodworking machinists, printers' machine managers and 
engineers' turners. Occasionally an arrangement will be 
made to put him on to each job in an agreed order. Here 
the great danger is specialization on to single machines, 
a danger that is rendered greater where Migration prevails, 
arid, in Woodworking, by the existence of sawmills in which 
only a few machines are used. In Printing, however, it 
appears to have been avoided, thanks possibly to its Appren- 
ticeship System. This natural progression, indeed, is not 
confined to the machine trades, but is found in some kinds 
of hand work, notably French Polishing, Painting and 

Elsewhere the different stages are not always so clear. 
There is usually some preliminary work for a boy to begin 
on, though in many cases improvements in machinery have 
left very little that is suitable for the younger ones ; and 
sometimes the different branches of the work present nearly 
equal difficulties, so that he just goes to whatever is most 
convenient. This will largely depend on the orders the 


shop happens to be engaged upon at the moment, especially 
where these vary much and rapidly. In every trade, how- 
ever, there are easier and harder parts and a boy begins with 
the former. What actually happens in different cases may 
perhaps be made clearest by the description of the practice in 
three important ones, Upholstery, Joinery and Compositing, 
as given to me by men engaged in them. The first two 
illustrate respectively the presence and absence of natural 
progression. The third occupies an intermediate position. 

The foreman in the first case was employed by a high-class 
West London firm. Here the boy starts at the work 
straight away, tacking the webbing which receives the 
springs to the frame of the chair, building the foundations for, 
and then sewing on, the springs. It takes him about a 
year to do this. He next learns to put on the first stuffing, 
building it up to give a good foundation for the second and 
so ensure a firm and even surface when the chair is finished. 
After mastering the first, he goes on to the second, stuffing, 
where more skill is required, and then to put on the inner, and 
finally the outer, covering. This firm takes a great interest 
in its apprentices, and does not keep them monotonously 
at one kind of work, but gives them others as occasion 
offers. Thus in a few years a boy can make a simple chair 
throughout, and afterwards has to take up the more delicate 
work, such as stuffing difficult shapes, and cutting and putting 
on expensive coverings. Where, as in this case, the material 
is valuable, he can only be trusted with it towards the end 
of his time. Moreover, in a shop of this kind, working 
largely in private houses, there are other branches to learn 
which would not be needed in a wholesale house such as 
room planning and curtain and blind cutting. The firm in 
question indentures its boys with a premium and takes 
special care to teach them thoroughly. Its work requires a 
highly skilled type of mechanic. 

Very similar descriptions of Joinery were given by two 
foremen, one of a large furnishing, and the other of a well- 
known Building and Contracting, firm, each of which 
does work of a high class. Here each foreman, unlike the 


upholsterer, believes in keeping the boy running about the 
shop for a few months to serve the men and so learn the 
nature and uses of tools and materials. The next year is 
occupied in various small jobs, sandpapering, planing-up and, 
perhaps, making a small dovetail. Then he will probably 
go to the bench with a man for a year or two, the foreman 
seeing that he gets suitable work, and then he is given work 
to do by himself, such as to make a small door. Sometimes 
he will be moved backwards and forwards, working first 
with a man, then alone, then with a man again and so on, 
and, having once mastered the different tools, will learn 
the other and more difficult parts of the trade as opportunity 

The Manager of a large Society Office in Central London 
described the teaching of compositors. The apprentice 
starts with a reader for six months, learning to decipher all 
kinds of manuscript. This appears to be the general rule. 
He then goes to the store and learns all about the different 
kinds of type and materials and how to break up and sort 
type. After this he is drafted into the Jobbing Department, 
where the apprentices' " ship " contains about six of them 
and a few men. Here he either gets a little job to himself, 
like a small " advert," or he works under a man, who 
supervises and teaches him. Later on he will go into the 
Newspaper and Book Departments to learn, first, plain 
book-setting and then display and artistic work. His 
final year is spent on the Linotype. This firm again is to 
some extent exceptional. The teaching of the Linotype 
would not necessarily be done during Apprenticeship, many 
smaller firms not possessing such machines, and more often 
than not an apprentice starts in the book, and not in the 
jobbing, department. 

These instances illustrate very fairly the progress of 
teaching in good firms. Where there is no agreement, its 
stages will often be less definite, and it will usually take 
longer, the boy having to take his chance to pick up what he 
can. In many businesses the chief difficulties are lack of 
variety in the work, and the fact that the different kinds of 


it are apt to come in rushes. So he has to do whatever is in 
the shop, and, when he has learnt one thing, that to which 
he ought to go next may not be available. Working for 
a man, however, often has the advantage that the latter 
gets a variety and the boy, assisting in what he does, 
necessarily gets it too. 

Finally, learning usually falls into two parts, first to use 
the tools and to do the ordinary work of the trade cleanly 
and correctly, and secondly to acquire rapidity of working 
and master its finer branches. Sometimes speed is primarily 
a matter of strength, and so can only be acquired in the 
later years. Hence in the earlier ones the aim should be to 
give sound methods of workmanship and the power to do 
a job right ; and one defect of the wage contract is that 
learners are soon able to obtain goodish money by turning 
out quickly a lot of common stuff and sacrifice to this both 
accuracy and finish. Thus even when they are not actually 
bad, their methods become slipshod and they acquire 
habits which are difficult to eradicate. 

The teaching of the boys is largely influenced for better 
or worse by the attitude of the foremen and the men towards 
them. What they do in this way is nearly always regarded 
in the case of the foremen, and usually in that of the men, 
as part of their ordinary duties. With the latter, when paid 
by the hour, the attention given to apprentices comes out 
of the employers' time and so the latter consider that they 
have the right to require them, if necessary, to help and 
instruct the boys. Occasionally a small extra payment is 
given to compensate for their trouble, this being usually 
limited to the first few months, and in rare instances part of 
the premium may be handed over to the foreman. But 
under modern conditions of short service, high wages and 
no premium, the employer has not, as a rule, the means to 
make such payments. With piece-workers, however, unless 
the boys are kept entirely in the foreman's charge, some 
allowance is nearly always made ; or a man or squad of 
men will be allowed to have the benefit of their services 
free for a few months in return for teaching them. 


Turning to the attitude of the men, therefore, there is 
little evidence of such a general attempt on their part to 
keep learners back as is sometimes alleged against them, 
though there is opposition to them in certain cases. This, 
as a rule, comes from individuals, and, where it is general 
throughout a shop or trade, has usually some justification. 
In Plumbing, for instance, it is due to the difficulty of regu- 
lating the number of young mates who will become plumbers. 
With learners or even improvers it is possible to fix a definite 
proportion to the journeymen and to stick to it. The num- 
ber of mates who will succeed in rising is an unknown 
quantity, and the employers may need a wider margin 
against emergencies than in other occupations. Hence the 
trade is liable to get overstocked, as indeed there is reason 
to think it has done recently, and the fear of overstocking 
makes many of the men hostile to the ambitions of their 
assistants. Sometimes, indeed, such hostility may be the only 
available check on the numbers who enter an occupation ; 
and similar objections are found to teaching them in shops 
in which boys are employed in excessive numbers, and for 
this too there is much justification. 

Hostility on the part of individuals has several causes. 
The successful workmen are generally well disposed towards 
the lads, their own position being secure. The unsuccessful 
and incompetent fear them as competitors and so are apt to 
try to keep them back. Often, again, it is a matter of tem- 
perament. Some men are too lazy or not sufficiently kind- 
hearted to take the necessary trouble. They " won't be 
bothered " with them. Others again do not possess the 
capacity to teach, and it is the foreman's business to choose 
the right man for the purpose. Finally much depends upon 
the boy himself. " If a boy is a good boy, the men will do 
anything to help him," and though sometimes they may lose 
patience with a dull but willing lad, it is usually his own fault 
if they are against him. 

The foremen's position has already been dealt with. As 
a body they take a real interest in their boys, though no 
more than the men do they " suffer fools gladly." But 


those who are willing and persevering, even if somewhat 
dull, nearly always find good friends in them, and the 
" bully," whatever his faults and perhaps because of them, 
usually makes a good teacher. Occasionally they do not 
give sufficient time to the matter, being too busy with other 
work, and trouble may now and again arise from the feeling 
on their part that the employer gets the premium whilst 
they have to do the teaching. 1 Certain firms recognize the 
justice of this by giving them a share in it. Again, an 
employer may leave them too free a hand, and they may keep 
back the boys from fear of their spoiling work, or, having to 
get it out at a price, may make them stick to whatever they 
can do best, and there are always a few men in every walk of 
Hfe who will never do more than they are obliged. Never- 
theless foremen as a body are fully alive to their duties in 
this respect, and there are not many who do not make the 
necessary time. 

Finally, we may consider briefly the chief defects of 
existing methods of training. One great cause of trouble 
is their variety and lack of organization, and this is specially 
liable to arise out of those in which a boy has to teach himself, 
as in Migration and " Working and Learning." With 
them certain difficulties are inevitable, whilst their competi- 
tion with other methods helps bad employers to evade any 
more formal obligations which they may have undertaken. 

Two sources of defect are most prevalent in connexion 
with the carrying out of agreements and understandings. The 
more common, but less serious, of the two consists in leaving 
a boy to find out things for himself without help, whilst 
pushing him on as fast as he can learn. In short, he is 
given ample opportunity to teach himself but little assistance 
in doing so. As typical of this practice, an engineer's 
patternmaker, afterwards a foreman and Labour Exchange 
Official, thus described what happened in his own case : 

1 Their attitude was described as follows : " The foreman often 
says, ' My father paid so much to apprentice me, and why should this 
chap's father pay the governor so much when I have got to learn 
him ? ' " 


" The foreman would give me a bit of work . . . which I 
had to do as best I could without help, being merely sworn at, 
and told to do it again, if I did it wrong. So I had to learn for 
myself. When I had mastered one job I was put on to another, 
and the quicker I learnt, the quicker I was pushed on because 
in my trade it pays the employer to do this. I got no help 
from the foreman, who merely gave me the work to do and 
seldom showed me anything only what was absolutely necessary. 
The tools were put into my hands, and I had to find out for 

My informant added that the teaching was below the 
average in this shop, so that it did not fairly represent that 
given in the trade as a whole. 

The defects of this teaching, therefore, are not such as to 
deprive a boy of a real chance to learn, though, in the case 
of those who lack ability to do so without assistance, the 
one thing may lead to the other. Either a lazy or careless 
foreman leaves him too much to himself or the men are too 
hard driven to assist him. In any case, being pushed for- 
ward as fast as he can learn, he is apt to acquire bad habits 
and ways of working, and to grow up into a slovenly and 
inaccurate, though perhaps a quick, workman, especially as 
firms of this type often require speed rather than accuracy 
and good work. 

In the more serious form of exploitation a boy is only 
taught one part of the trade and soon becomes expert at it. 
He is then kept to this and in the worst cases, which happily 
are rare, for the whole of his time. Thus a practice, that was 
formerly far more common in letter-press printing than it 
is now, was that already mentioned of teaching apprentices 
the book-setting only and inducing them to stick at it, by 
the payment of half-piece rates, so that they came out of 
their time very inexpert and of little use, either to themselves 
or the employers. More frequently things are not so bad 
as this, but a lad is made to stay too long at each process 
before being moved on to the next, more particularly in his 
earlier years. He will continue to run the errands and do 
easy boys' jobs until he kicks and many boys are not good at 


kicking. In Optical Instrument work, for instance, " a 
boy will be kept on simple work unless he asks to be put to 
something else, when they will give it to him if they are 
kind." Much, as elsewhere, will depend on himself. If 
he keeps his eyes open and has the sense to look after him- 
self, he will get pushed on. If not, he will be allowed to 
remain for a long time at the same work. 

Modern conditions, moreover, often render adequate 
teaching in a single firm impossible, however willing the 
employer may be to give it. Firms which specialize on 
certain parts of a trade can only teach those parts, though 
they may teach them very well. Others only " make trash," 
that is, do common work. The question, therefore, is 
whether the former should not be limited to a shorter period 
of service and the latter debarred from taking apprentices 
if their work is not good enough. Finally the terms of 
engagement, notably high wages and short service, often 
necessitate slower promotion to better jobs than when they 
were more favourable to the employer, and the freedom of 
some boys to leave at any time has, for the reasons given, 
a similar effect. 

It is a mistake, therefore, to regard bad faith or deliberate 
exploitation on the employer's part as the main cause of 
defective training. For this sometimes circumstances, and 
at others mere carelessness or want of thought, are chiefly 
to blame. Thus in silversmithing a few very large firms 
are more highly specialized than the majority, and their 
organization requires the boys to be kept to particular 
departments. Hence they become highly skilled within a 
narrow range and trouble arises from the fact that only a 
few shops require their particular form of skill. Excessive 
nervousness on the part of foremen and men, or lack of 
control by the employer, is another cause that is more 
potent than exploitation. Much also is due to sheer care- 
lessness. Finally employers are often the scapegoats of 
their boys' misdeeds. The boy is slack or lazy or trouble- 
some, and fails to learn properly from some fault of his 
own. Afterwards he puts the blame for his failure on his 


employer and finds plenty of people who will believe him 
without troubling to inquire into the facts. 

Apart from a small minority of really bad firms, therefore, 
much more harm is done by carelessness and want of thought, 
and there is little deliberate exploitation. The wonder is 
rather that under the prevailing conditions there is not 
more of it. Far more injury is done by the Wage Con- 
tract under which boys get their full value as workers, take 
their chance of learning, and often eventually neglect the 
latter. Exploitation causes a few to be trained very badly 
or not at all, and the Wage Contract results in a much larger 
number being only moderately taught. 

It only remains to mention two abuses that are liable to 
occur in the absence of any agreement. Sometimes a boy 
will be taught one or two simple things and have the hope of 
learning the business held out to him. He will then be kept 
till about eighteen and turned adrift. Secondly, where there 
is only a loose understanding, a few employers put boys off, 
either permanently or for weeks at a time, just as they would 
a man. Occasionally, too, this happens under the Verbal 
Agreements in Engineering, but is strongly discountenanced 
by the best firms. 

Whilst, therefore, over-specialization appears prima facie 
to be a probable cause of abuse, it has often serious disad- 
vantages, which even from the narrowest business point of 
view render it unprofitable. First, a boy quickly becomes 
expert at a single kind of work and can do almost as much 
as a man at it, especially where this is of a grade upon which 
the latter cannot be profitably employed. But whilst he is 
thus earning a high profit on a small wage or, as it is often 
put, much more than he is paidhe is not doing work of 
anything like the same gross value as a man does. More- 
over, he occupies a bench at which an adult could turn out 
a far larger output, and in London, owing to high rents and 
rates, bench room is a very expensive item. Hence many 
employers take as few boys as possible, in order to get the 
maximum return from each bench. 

Secondly, the more quickly and the more completely 


a lad is taught, the larger will be the profit which he brings 
to his employer in the long run. His first few years will 
probably involve some loss, in the later ones he will be 
nearly as good as a man and produce almost as much in 
value as well as in quantity, when still getting apprentice's 
wages. On the contrary, those who become expert at cer- 
tain things only quickly reach a maximum beyond which 
they will not go, whilst their wages rise. In time, therefore, 
they will earn little more than they get. Thus in the end, 
if only his period of service is sufficiently long, it is the 
boy who is well taught who returns the larger profit. 
And these considerations apply with particular force to 
London, both because of the great variety of so much of its 
work and because often the learners taken are too few to 
enable specialization to be effectively carried out. 

In short, so long as they can be sure of keeping him, it 
pays employers to train a capable boy thoroughly, and 
push him on as fast as he can learn, and most of them grasp 
this fact. If, indeed, he is free to leave at any time, a 
considerable risk of losing him may have to be run. On 
the other hand, dull lads may be kept back, because the 
foreman feels that the ultimate return is too uncertain to 
justify the risk of bringing them on quickly ; and in some 
cases an undue advantage may be taken. Still even so 
the more common cause of complaint is not that there 
is no progress at all, but that it is unduly slow, that to begin 
with they are kept too long upon the errands and upon 
similar work, and that after this their promotion is not as 
rapid as it ought to be. On the whole, however, most firms 
do the best they can for their boys, whilst it must not be 
forgotten that the taking of learners is a matter of business. 
The employer must see at least that he does not lose on 
them, and they have to pay their way in one direction, if 
not in the other. 

Finally, there is in many trades considerable unwilling- 
ness on the part of London employers to take and teach 
more than a very few boys. This again is due to the pro- 
bability that it will involve either an actual loss or at best 


a very small profit. On the one hand, their cost in wages 
is high, the burden of rent and rates is heavy, making 
bench room too costly and valuable to be filled with learners, 
and sometimes there is little suitable work for them, especi- 
ally for the younger ones. Employers likewise complain of 
lack of adequate control and the difficulty of getting such 
as are suitable, and further allowance is required for spoilt 
material and the loss of the time and tempers of foremen 
and men. On the other hand, many trades, notably Build- 
ing, have an ample alternative means of recruiting in the 
influx into London of well-trained provincial workmen, 
and in many there is a more than ample supply of adult 
men. " I don't need to take apprentices," said one em- 
ployer ; "if I want a man there are always some of those 
poor devils about who are only too glad of a job." The 
cry, therefore, is that " we want men, not boys," or, if the 
latter are required at all, it is as labourers rather than 
as learners. 

In London, therefore, learners frequently do no more 
than pay their way ; and in many trades few are taken, 
whilst of those few some owe it rather to their employers' 
interest in them than to business considerations. To this 
statement, however, there are exceptions. For the 
reasons already given, large numbers of apprentices are 
employed in the Printing Trades, in which the provincial 
supply proves a less adequate substitute than it is else- 
where. Again, in certain parts of Engineering, such as 
Ship-Repairing, learners are numerous, partly to keep up 
the supply of sea-going engineers, and partly because the 
extent of the provincial influx is limited, though by no means 
negligible. Nevertheless the fact remains that over a 
great part of London industry the demand for learners 
varies from small to very small. The difficulty is not that 
employers fail to teach the boys they take, but that they 
will take so few of them, and that those who teach best, 
teach fewest. 


Reasons for growing importance of Evening Schools Various 
Types of them : Evening Continuation Schools ; Technical 
Schools ; Trade Schools Increase in Teaching of Manual 
Work most marked Different Branches of Teaching 
Technical Education proper Instruction in General Principles 
or Higher Trade Teaching ; help given by this in learning 
manual work Higher and Finer Parts of Manual Work 
Teaching of ordinary Work of a Trade : Greater Variety, 
Better Quality ; More Thorough Teaching ; Case of Sectional 
Division of a Trade Broadened Outlook Supervision and 
Control Exploitation Failure to reach those who need them 
most Value of Work they do Value of Control between 
fourteen and sixteen in Day Trade School Value of Schools 
generally and to different classes of Boys. 

Estimates of their Scope and Utility By Employers and 
Foremen : for general principles ; for technical subjects ; 
for higher branches or things which do not come into the shop 
Opposition to attempt to replace shop by School for ordinary 
work of a trade Indirect Value By Boys : Drawing and 
Design ; Value of practical work ; Better quality and greater 
variety ; Allied trades or branches : Little importance attached 
to technical subjects Some difference in views of boys and 
employers in some cases : marked similarity in others Teach- 
ing Staff hold much stronger views. 

Value of Schools varies Favourable Conditions Illustra- 
tion from Cabinet Making and Silversmithing Unfavourable 
Conditions London Trades when considered from this point 
of view fall into Five Classes. 

Relations of School to Shop Two Important Facts 
Decrease of Latter's Power to Teach School still supplementary 
to it Illustration from utility of Schools to different Boys 
Why this is restricted Value of the Workshop That 
of School greater with, than without, co-operation between 

Difficulties of Trade Teaching at School Difficulty of keeping 
in touch with actual practice ; likely to be increased with 
compulsory attendance Failure to work under competitive 



conditions Inability to work to scale Difficulties connected 
with the supply of teachers The Voluntary System of attend- 
ance and its Results : Limitation of Choice of Subjects ; Absence 
of Control and Failure to keep boys ; Best Form of Organization 
Impossible Summary of Existing Position and Changes 

UNDER modern conditions the workshop still provides the 
fundamental basis of trade teaching, but from various 
causes it cannot alone and unaided do all that is required. 
What these causes are need not be repeated. Their results are, 
first, that the boy has to do more for himself than formerly, 
and, secondly, that it is becoming more and more difficult to 
learn a trade throughout in a single firm. Moreover, modern 
industry frequently requires an increasing amount of 
technical and scientific knowledge that it is beyond the 
power of the workshop to supply. Hence the Trade or 
Technical School is coming necessarily to play a growing, 
though still, as will appear, only a supplementary, part in 
the training of the artisan ; and the present chapter, there- 
fore, seeks to analyse generally, but with special reference 
to London, the extent and value of its work. 

Before considering this more fully, however, it will be 
necessary to define carefully certain terms, such as Technical 
Training, which in common discourse are apt to be used in a 
somewhat slipshod fashion. Technical and Trade Teaching 
form part of the wider problem of continued education, 
their function being roughly to do for the mechanic and 
craftsman what the ordinary Evening Continuation Schools 
do for the commercial employments and what they might 
and ought to do for unskilled labour. 

Evening Continuation Schools or Classes are often referred 
to in a generic sense to cover all these things, but the name 
is used primarily to denote those which are engaged in 
carrying on during the years of adolescence work done 
in childhood by the Elementary School, or in giving 
commercial education. Thus, on the one hand, they cover 
the higher branches of subjects already taught or more 
advanced literary subjects. Their curriculum, therefore, 


includes history and geography, ancient and modern lan- 
guages, mathematics, science and drawing. Certain kinds of 
manual work wood-carving, clay-modelling and repousse 
work are also taught, less in relation to particular trades 
than for their educational value. On the other hand the 
commercial departments contain classes for shorthand, 
typewriting, book-keeping, and so on, and so provide directly 
for the needs of the commercial employments. In London 
the County Council has recently reorganized its system, and 
the changes brought about in this and other respects will 
be described in the next chapter. It will lead to greater 
clearness, therefore, if the term Evening Continuation 
School or Class retains this more restricted meaning ; and 
to denote the more general sense the simpler phrase 
Evening School or Class will be used. 

When we come to deal with Technical and Trade Teaching, 
however, we are concerned not with two separate subjects, 
but with two more or less distinct branches of the same one. 
Thus, as Sir Philip Magnus has said : 

' The term generally adopted to designate the special training 
of persons in the arts and sciences that underlie the practice of 
some trade or profession is called Technical Education. . . . 
In its widest sense it embraces all kinds of instruction that have 
direct reference to the career a person is following or preparing 
to follow ; but it is usual to restrict the term to the special 
training which helps to qualify a person to engage in some branch 
of productive industry. . . . This specialized education may 
consist of the processes concerned in production or of instruction 
in art and science in its relation to industry, but it may also 
include the acquisition of the manual skill which production 
necessitates." l 

Hence the term Technical Education needs in the first 
place to be used in this wider sense. But it contains two 
branches which may be described as Technical Teaching 
proper and Trade Teaching. In practice these things are 
not always distinct and not, seldom overlap one another, 

1 Article on Technical Education in the Encyclopedia Britannica 
(Eleventh Edition), vol. xxvi., p. 487. 


and this leads to inconsistency in the meanings attached to 
them. Certain kinds of teaching, moreover, are on the 
border line between them and cannot be definitely assigned 
to either. Hence it is important first to state clearly the 
meanings to be given to them and, secondly, to dis- 
tinguish the different kinds of instruction that are included 
under the heading of Technical Education l in its wider sense. 
Technical Teaching proper is perhaps best defined in 
the words of the Act of 1889 : 

" The expression ' technical instruction ' shall mean instruction 
in the principles of science and art applicable to industries and in 
the application of special branches of science and art to specific 
industries or employments." z 

It is thus limited to the higher branches of knowledge 
connected with a trade, which are mainly, but not exclu- 
sively, utilized by those engaged in its upper ranks. The 
study of them, therefore, must, at least so far as the average 
man is concerned, be preceded by considerable knowledge 
of the manual work. 

Finally, Trade Teaching in a School which either precedes, 
or is concurrent with, that of the shop corresponds to the 
" manual instruction " of the above Act, as " instruction in 
the use of tools, processes of agriculture, and modelling in 
clay, wood and other material," which must not be confused 
with the Manual Training of the Elementary Schools. The 
vital distinction, therefore, is between classes for learning 
the ordinary work of a trade and those for acquiring the 

1 For the remainder of the chapter Technical Education refers to 
this wide meaning and Technical Teaching to the narrower one. 

2 An Act to Facilitate the Provision of Technical Instruction, 52 and 
53 Viet. c. 76. The Clause continues : " It shall not include the 
teaching or practice of any trade, industry or employment, but save 
as aforesaid shall include instruction in the branches of science and 
art with respect to which grants are for the time being made by the 
Department of Science and Art and any other form of instruction 
(including modern languages and commercial and agricultural 
subjects) which may for the time being be sanctioned by the Depart- 
ment, on a minute laid before Parliament and made on a representa- 
tion of a local authority that such a form of instruction is required 
in its district." 


necessary scientific knowledge connected with it, and though 
in practice overlapping is frequent, this distinction must 
always be kept in mind. 

Technical Teaching proper is playing a growing part in 
industry as more and more scientific knowledge is being 
required of the workman. Its growth is no new thing. 
That in the part played by Trade Teaching is both more 
recent and more marked. Each kind, indeed, is becoming 
increasingly important, but it is in relation to the actual 
manual work that the development is greatest. Both 
Technical and Trade Teaching, it may be added, are usually 
given in the same institute or school. 

We may now turn to consider the different branches 
of Technical Education. First there is the teaching of the 
different sciences bearing upon various industries and of their 
application to them. The employers' demand for this is 
not limited to the case of fully trained men, but extends in 
some trades to learners as well. Thus certain Engineering 
firms require two years' preliminary technical training from 
their learners and Labour Exchanges receive orders for 
youths or improvers " with some technical knowledge.'* 

Secondly, there is instruction in what may be called the 
General Principles of a trade. A firm often cannot do more 
than teach the actual manual work and not also the " why " 
and " wherefore " of it. The boy learns how to do it, but 
detailed explanation of the principles which underlie it 
is not possible. Thus more than one employer has said 1 : 
" We cannot sit round in a ring and hold a class ; we have 
got to attend to business." Nor is it altogether necessary, 
or even desirable, that they should do so, for instruction 
in such principles, in the connexion between the parts of a 
trade, and in the -character, qualities and working of its 
materials, tools and machines, comprises one of the special 
domains of the School. By lectures and in other ways it can 
thoroughly impart these things and their relation to one 
another and give each pupil individual tuition according 
to his needs. The teacher is there simply and solely to 
teach, with the foreman it is but one duty among many. 


Here, indeed, the dividing line between Technical and 
Trade Teaching is narrowest ; but these last, together with 
certain allied subjects, such as drawing and design, are 
best classified as Higher Trade Teaching. 

A word may be said about its relation to the manual work 
of an industry. It does not, it is true, actually teach the 
" use of the tools," but it nevertheless gives considerable 
assistance to a boy in acquiring the "practical work." 
He learns more quickly and more easily when he knows 
the connexion between different things than when he 
just learns each of them as it happens to come to him 
at the bench. Hence, when the instructors have real 
practical knowledge, the School is a most valuable adjunct 
to the shop. The boy, having had these things explained 
to him of an evening, grasps each new kind of job more 
readily, and takes an increasing interest in what he is 
doing because he understands it better. Last, but not 
least, he has more confidence in himself and much that 
formerly was hard he now finds to be easy. When 
therefore they are in a position to give a good all-round 
workshop training, the employers' contention is probably 
right that the Schools should confine themselves to imparting 
these branches of knowledge, or, as one of the instructors 
said, referring to a certain firm : " They think, and quite 
right, that they can teach the trade completely in the shop, 
and so ask that the boys they send to us shall spend their 
time on other subjects." Thus, where they are so circum- 
stanced, such a division of labour as " the shop for practical 
work, the school for general principles " is a sound one. 

Thirdly, the Schools have a big part to play in teaching 
the finer kinds of manual work, even where consider- 
ations of space limit their utility in the more elementary 
ones. The scale of Building, and more particularly masonry 
and brickwork, requires room to put up and pull down walls, 
and here the School is at a disadvantage. 1 Work with 

1 In certain cases the difficulty may be partially, but only very 
partially, overcome. Thus in the School of Building at Brixton a 
small cottage has been erected in the large central hall. 


models is a poor substitute for actual bricklaying or masonry, 
just as making "soap-boxes, brackets and that sort of thing" 
in an Elementary School is of little use for the joiner's shop. 
But the smaller scale and greater fineness and delicacy of 
these higher branches make them far more suitable 
for teaching in this way. One may instance gauge- work 
in bricklaying, modelling and decorative work in plastering 
and the finer display work in compositing. Moreover the 
ordinary contract to teach does not always include these 
things, but only the trade as practised by the average 
journeyman. To learn them, therefore, a boy has first 
to make a start for himself and show " aptitude " before he 
gets his chance in the workshop, especially when the modern 
contract leaves the employer so little margin against loss 
that otherwise it would be impossible for him to teach them. 
Consequently the boy must co-operate with his master by 
getting " an insight into them " for himself, for where he 
does so a decent firm will always do its best to give him 
a chance to learn more. 

Fourthly, there is the ordinary work of a trade and in 
respect to it modern conditions are once more limiting 
the power of the employer to teach and giving the Schools a 
larger part to play in supplementing the workshop. As to 
whether they can do this successfully, opinion is not unani- 
mous, but it is certainly becoming more favourable to an 
affirmative reply. 

In the first place, each shop can only teach such work as 
it gets, and every contract has an implied limitation to this 
effect. Even without actual specialization of output the 
business of many firms is limited in quantity or quality. 
Thus in Silversmithing some confine themselves to large, 
others to small, work and only a limited number do both 
kinds. In this and other industries, again, some businesses 
do not get the best qualities, or, as in Engineering, certain 
machines may not be found everywhere. Sometimes, too, 
industrial progress tends to divide a trade into sections or 
branches. Thus in plastering solid and fibrous work are 
often done by different firms, and whilst it is important for 


the workman to know both, the employers may only be in a 
position to teach one. Now for all these things the Trade 
School can provide a remedy, and can enable a lad to learn, 
or at least to make a start at learning, these parts of his 
business '; and in addition to this they give him a general 
widening of experience. ' You get to see and know other 
chaps," said one young silversmith, " who are doing different 
sorts of work to what you are." 

Further, the Trade School or Class can set about teaching 
particular pieces of work far more thoroughly than the 
workshop can. In the latter the boy's progress is quite 
legitimately influenced by business considerations, and 
he has to learn his trade bit by bit as the orders come in. 
In the former he can go right through a job from the begin- 
ning, making the designs, and then and there doing the whole 
thing. He thus sees it and his trade far more as a single 
entity than when he is learning it piecemeal, and nothing 
could be more valuable. Moreover, by undertaking elaborate 
things, he can exercise his artistic and constructive powers. 

Finally, apart from its actual teaching, the School 
exercises a valuable influence, not only on the employment 
and instruction, but on the general conduct and outlook of 
its students. It can guide the boys as to what work they 
take up and rectify mistakes more readily than is possible 
in the workshop. Direct influence upon employers it can 
seldom exert, but it can help and encourage learners to 
assert themselves and press their claims, and in this and 
other ways keep the learning of a trade clearly before them, 
so that its regular students at any rate seldom throw away 
their chances from mere restlessness or for the sake of 
immediate high wages. 

This influence is specially helpful to those who have no 
agreement or understanding. Migration is most likely to 
be successful where the improver has the expert help and 
guidance that the Schools can afford. So too they can do 
something to persuade those who are " Working and Learn- 
ing " to stick to decent jobs. Their opportunities, how- 
ever, are perhaps even greater in the case of Following- Up, 


because sometimes, and notably in Plumbing, they have 
specially good facilities for teaching the actual work of a 
trade. Further they can do something for the exploited 
apprentice and a good deal for the over-specialized worker, 
whom, as in the Boot. Trade, they may enable to gain ex- 
perience of several processes instead of being confined to one 
or two only. 

The value of their work in these respects, indeed, is 
limited by the small proportion of the boys who attend them 
and particularly of those who most need to do so, and it 
would probably be increased enormously under a system of 
compulsory attendance. Even, however, if their practice 
falls far short of the ideal, they already do good work. 
Even the cleverest need control and guidance. The average 
boys get much that even a good shop cannot afford, and 
especially an amount of individual attention, which an 
instructor, who is there solely to teach, is able to give. 
Greater breadth of view and wider experience they can 
hardly fail to supply, simply because they are not the shop, 
and they may sometimes lead a lad to appreciate more 
fairly the treatment he is receiving from his employer. 1 
Finally increased realization of what a fine thing a skilled 
trade is leads to increased interest, especially where diffi- 
culties are removed in advance, and new jobs in the work- 
shop are found to be easy instead of hard. Similarly one 
of the greatest advantages of the Day Trade Schools, the 
work of which will be described more fully in the next 
chapter, lies in the control they keep over their students in 
the two first and most dangerous years of their working life. 

To sum up, therefore, the work of the Technical and 
Trade Schools has several branches : first, technical and 
scientific teaching in the narrower sense ; secondly, Higher 
Trade Teaching ; thirdly, instruction in the finer or more 
special branches of the manual work ; fourthly, that which 
supplements the skill imparted day by day in the workshop, 

1 Thus the Head of one Department would hear boys saying : 
" Well, the old guv'nor isn't a bad sort after all ; but that fellow's got 
a rotten guv'nor." 


and, lastly, such control and supervision as has just been 
described, which is as necessary as the actual training and 
no less for the artisan than for the low-skilled worker. 
The first of these is especially valuable to those who are 
entering the higher ranks of industry, the second and third 
to those whose workshop training is otherwise ample, and the 
fourth is chiefly useful to the average boy. The last is 
essential to all ; and for all alike it may be said that the aims 
and results of Technical Education should be to set right 
defective training, to complete what is unfinished, and to 
make what is good and adequate to be better and more 
adequate still. 

The actual value of the Schools as it appears to those 
chiefly concerned may now be shortly considered, and be- 
tween them, and between different trades, striking points, 
both of similarity and contrast, will be found. Employers 
and their foremen, as is perhaps natural, attach least im- 
portance to the manual training. Usually they regard the 
shop as able to do all that is required for the latter and 
further use of the tools after working hours as neither 
necessary nor beneficial. Not too tired to profit by evening 
classes, the boy nevertheless requires a change, " something 
recreative to interest him after his day's work." Or again, 
" the boys are all happy and contented and quite fresh : for 
after all their work at the Schools is a change for them, not 
a continuance of their shop work." l 

It is in reference to such matters as scientific and higher 
trade teaching, therefore, that they regard most favourably 
the work of the Schools. Frequently they admit them to 
be in a better position than the workshop to teach these 
things. They even propose co-operation on the lines that the 
School shall impart in the evening the principles governing 
the work which the boy practises during the day time, the 
sciences which bear upon it, such as mechanics and geome- 
try for engineers and boilermakers, chemistry for tanners 

1 In this case the boys were employed in an engineering workshop 
and spent their evenings learning the science and general principles 
of their business. 


and leatherworkers, and also certain forms of knowledge, 
allied to different trades, which are an advantage to, though 
not absolutely a necessity for, the artisans concerned. 
Such are Drawing and Design, Building and Machine 
Construction, and Modelling, more particularly the two 
former, to which they are particularly favourable. More- 
over the general principles will include not only those of the 
particular craft, but those also of the whole industry to 
which it belongs. 

Now these things fall to a great extent outside the scope of 
the workshop and are not included in what the average 
employer undertakes to do for an apprentice namely, to 
make him a good workman, which is all, as a rule, that 
he has the means to do. But by learning these other things 
boys are enabled to become better workmen, and many 
employers, therefore, encourage them to use the Schools for 
these purposes. Not a few of them, indeed, regard their 
value as limited to this. 

Nevertheless masters and foremen, on the whole, though 
with less unanimity, admit within certain limits that they 
can teach parts of the manual work or assist boys to learn it. 
Most of them regard the shop as, in the Aristotelian phrase, 
" prior in nature " to the School, and hold that for work in 
the latter to precede work in the former, or even for it to 
begin at the same time, is simply to try to teach the 
advanced subjects before the rudiments. 

The workshop teaches the latter ; often it alone can do so. 
Later on the School steps in to help with the former, and 
especially with the finer branches of the trade, such as gauge- 
work in bricklaying, 1 which only a few get a chance of doing 
on the building. These subjects it can teach, not indeed 
completely, yet sufficiently to enable a boy to make a start 
and later on to get a further chance at his job. Modern 
conditions, in fact, often render the latter possible only 
where a boy has already some knowledge of a process, 
so that to teach him the rest of it will be less costly to the 

1 This is paid at the rate of d. an hour above the ordinary rate for 



employer. Similarly, where certain things do not come 
into his workshop, the insight into them and the wider 
experience which the School gives help a learner to obtain 
an improver's job in some other firm in which they 
do. 1 

But employers and, to an almost equal extent, their fore- 
men resist any attempt to replace the workshop by the 
Trade School. They are prepared to admit its value for 
the purposes already described, or even to assist those 
who have been exploited or failed to use their chances to 
make a fresh start. But to anything beyond this they are 
steadily opposed, except sometimes for preliminary training, 
for which there is a considerable demand in Engineering 
and a growing one in some other industries. But to " teach 
a boy to use the tools," i.e. to do the ordinary work, the 
proper place is, they maintain, the workshop, which the 
School can supplement, sometimes largely, but which it 
cannot replace. 

Some employers, moreover, value the Trade Schools 
mainly or even entirely for their general control over the boys 
or for the incentive they give to further effort, increasing 
their interest in their work and keeping their minds fixed 
upon it instead of upon other things. Thus it is often said, 
for instance, that " the boy who is going to get on attends 
a Technical School," whilst the Manager of a large Furnishing 
Firm declared that what they taught was of little use, but 
that attendance at them was encouraged because they 
" kept a boy's thoughts fixed upon his trade." 

The boys, on the other hand, attach the greatest import- 
ance to drawing and design, more particularly in combination 
with definite pieces of work, when " you take a job and 

1 On this point the Foreman of a firm of Braziers was emphatic. 

" Their [the Trade Schools'] great value is for a boy to learn cutting 
out, a thing of which, owing to the great value of copper, we cannot 
afford to give a boy much, at any rate until his last year. For if 
he does it wrong, he may easily spoil a lot and cause a great deal of 
loss. They, therefore, by enabling him to learn just when he will 
bungle most, get over this difficulty and enable him to learn it so 
far that he will get a better chance in the shop." 


work right through it, making the drawings and all." * Of 
those I saw three out of every five gave one evening a week 
entirely to it, and of the rest some intended to do so later, 
or were studying it not as a separate subject, but in 
connexion with whatever else they were doing. 2 

Second in importance comes the chance of obtaining 
increased variety or better qualities of work as compared 
with the workshop, or of getting " general work," as they 
themselves say, whilst they can broaden their experience 
and outlook by meeting and talking with " chaps from 
other shops." Thus a young Brass Finisher, who was not 
employed under any agreement, said 

" In the shop you only do one thing ; here you do every- 
thing " ; 

and a boy learning Cabinet Making with his father, a 
small master 

" With my father I get a medium class of work and here 
the best." 

Others described themselves as " practically learning the 
trade," or as getting " practice " and " practical work." 
One boy had got promoted by his employer as a result, 
and another, engaged at " filing-up " at a silversmith's, 
had been promised a chance to do " raising " and " hammer- 
ing," if he would obtain an insight into them first at a certain 
Technical Institute. 

Third place is assigned to the continual presence of an 
instructor to remove difficulties, correct mistakes and 
explain matters clearly, combined with the power to choose 
one's own work 

" You can do what you like in the School. In the shop 
you are only given what you can do ; but here, if you don't 
know, you are shown, or if you are in difficulties you ask the 
instructor and he tells you." 3 

1 By the kindness and courtesy of Principals and Instructors I 
was able to interview a considerable number of boys at various 
Schools and from them obtained the opinions quoted in the text. 

2 In some of the Artistic Trades modelling occupies a similar 

3 In this case the speaker was not a learner under an agreement, 
but a young wage-earner " picking up " his business, 


Others spoke of power " to take your time and make 
experiments/' of " increased confidence " and of " work 
made easier." A few were learning an allied trade or branch 
to supplement their own, usually where modern develop- 
ments were separating processes that were formerly united. 
Thus engravers were learning die-sinking, a silver spinner 
silversmithing and bookbinders both forwarding and 

There is, therefore, much both of similarity and of differ- 
ence in the attitude of employers and learners. The most 
remarkable divergence was shown by the small number of 
boys who attached importance to purely technical and 
scientific instruction. This is partly due to special reasons. 
Trades like Engineering were not well represented among those 
whom I saw, many of them being engaged in the artistic 
crafts and other occupations in which manual dexterity 
is still vital. Secondly, many of them were wage-earners 
teaching themselves, or came from firms whose output was 
largely specialized. Thus they had still much to learn at 
the School in the way of " practical work." The employers, 
on the contrary, mainly represented the best and most 
regular methods of teaching, which leave less scope for the 
School in this direction and make its chief spheres the finer 
branches of a trade, its science and its principles. 

Nevertheless the small importance attributed by the 
former to these two last matters does illustrate their failure to 
appreciate them properly. It is perhaps inevitable that 
they should use the Schools more for the sake of immediate 
assistance in earning wages than for the purpose of mastering 
the broader principles that underlie their employment. 
What is disquieting is their failure to grasp the connexion 
between the two things or to take an interest in the latter. 1 

Apart from this the chief difference consists in the far 
greater appreciation by the boys than by the employers of 

1 Thus at some Institutes attendance at lectures on theory and 
principles of a trade used only to be secured by making it a condition 
of attendance at the " practical " classes. This object is now likely 
to be more fully attained by the adoption of the course system by 
the County Council, 


the instruction in " practical work," which again is likely to 
be especially useful to those who are teaching themselves. 
Other differences are mainly in details. Points of agreement 
are also numerous. Among them are the importance attri- 
buted to drawing and design, the value of the School in 
imparting the finer branches of the work and in filling gaps 
in workshop experience, and its power to give wider experi- 
ence and adaptability or greater variety. From both sides, 
too, it is regarded as a supplement to, not a substitute for, 
the shop, and, apart from the two main points of 
disagreement, it may be said that both parties recog- 
nize the same elements of value, though they view them 
from two different standpoints. 

The opinions of the teaching staff, on the other hand, often 
go much further than those either of the employers or of the 
boys. They likewise rely upon Technical Education as a 
means to improve still further those who are well taught and 
to perfect those who are not, but many of them regard work- 
shop training as in itself so narrow and insufficient as to 
compel a learner to look elsewhere for almost everything of 
value. Hence in their view the only real chance for many 
lads is provided by the Trade School. Such an attitude, 
indeed, is not universal among them, and in their extreme 
form such views very much exaggerate both the evils that 
exist and the part which the Schools take and can 
take in Industrial Education, much as the employers are 
liable to under-estimate both. The truth probably lies 
between the two -namely , , that the workshop still remains the 
centre and basis of trade teaching, but that the School is an 
auxiliary to it of great and always increasing importance. 

The scope of the latter also varies greatly from trade 
to trade, and is largely determined by two things, the size 
and value of the product and the amount of craftsmanship 
involved ; and so the three most necessary conditions are : 
the production of an article of small or moderate bulk, the 
need of artistic ability, or at least of manual dexterity, in 
the worker, and the use of a cheap raw material. 

The matter may be illustrated by the case of two trades, 


Cabinet-Making and Silversmithing. In many of its 
branches the former secures all three advantages. Furni- 
ture only requires a shop of moderate size, so that diffi- 
culties of space do not arise to any great extent. A single 
piece of work provides considerable variety, takes time to 
make, and thus gives the means for much instruction. 
Finally the raw material is not expensive, and the finished 
articles are easy to dispose of. As a rule the boy is allowed 
to keep the latter on paying for the former. 

Again, in spite of an increase of machine production in 
the cheaper lines of goods, Silversmithing is as regards size 
and craftsmanship even more favourably situated. The 
value of the material too causes employers to prefer boys 
with some previous experience, who have, in short, been 
" licked into shape " elsewhere ; and they look with 
greater favour on the Day Trade Schools than they do in 
other industries. It suffers, however, from one great 
disadvantage. Silver is too expensive for Use in the classes, 
and base metals, usually brass, have to be substituted. 
Now silver and the base metals require somewhat different 
methods of treatment, and so, after working on the latter, a 
boy " will sweat silver down to absolutely nothing." But 
even so Silversmithing and the other artistic crafts provide 
an unusually favourable field for manual trade teaching. 

At the other end of the scale are industries in which such 
instruction is difficult to give, at least until the later stages. 
Sometimes, as with the manufacture of light leathers, there 
are a number of closely related processes which it is not easy 
to teach separately, or indeed at all, except by establishing 
a whole factory for the purpose. Again, questions of space 
may render it impossible. With semi-manufactured articles, 
or such goods as brushes, of which very large quantities 
are turned out in a short time, difficulties in disposing of 
the product may be insuperable. Finally, high prices of 
material, as with saddlery, or as already mentioned in 
Silversmithing, are sometimes a great obstacle, but at 
others it can be partly or wholly overcome, as by the use of 
cardboard patterns in connexion with coppersmithing. 


In reference to the possibilities of trade teaching, therefore, 
London industries appear to fall into some five classes : 
first, those in which either it is not possible, or, as with 
many branches of Pianoforte Manufacture, 1 has not yet been 
developed ; secondly, those in which it is confined to science, 
theory and general principles ; thirdly, employments in 
which the Schools can do much to teach the manual work 
after its earlier and easier stages have been passed but not 
until then, and which include many of the Printing and 
Building Trades ; fourthly, those in which conditions are 
specially favourable to them, as in the instances just given, 
and lastly those, like Engineering and Boilermaking, in 
which the value of the manual teaching is great, but that 
of the technical and scientific training very much greater. 

It is now possible to summarize the present relations of 
the School to the workshop. Two facts of special importance 
emerge. First, there is much that the latter formerly gave 
which it can no longer guarantee, so that the former is 
required, and is in a position, to take its place and to do 
much that was regarded as entirely within its sphere. 
Secondly, the School cannot by itself teach a trade, so that 
its instruction still only supplements, though to a greater 
extent than formerly, that of the private firm. The work- 
shop remains the proper place in which to learn, and round 
it the teaching must still centre. For a man has to work 
in the shop, and as a boy must learn to do so according to 
the methods, principles and conditions that prevail there. 
Therefore the training of the shop, by the shop, for the shop 
and in the shop is fundamental. It is one thing to learn at 
the School what the shop cannot teach, another to learn 
at the latter independently of the former. So, too, the Day 
Trade School teaches a boy the elements of his business, and 
on the whole under better conditions, before he starts in the 
factory, combining extended general education with elemen- 
tary trade teaching. It also guards him against the special 

1 The establishment of a Pianoforte Trade School is at present 
under consideration by the County Council. 


dangers of early adolescence, but in no sense does it claim 
to teach a trade throughout. 

Now in these cases the School does important work, but 
in all of them it is supplementary to the workshop and not a 
substitute for it. To a great extent this is inevitable. For 
a boy spends only from four to eight hours weekly 
for part of the year in the one and from forty-eight to fifty- 
four for the whole of it in the other. But even where, 
as in the Day Trade Schools, the former occupies a larger 
share of his time, the general position is substantially the 
same. The two continue to co-operate, only the School 
sometimes plays a larger part than it does at others. But 
its place is still subordinate and that of the shop prepon- 
derant. For the boy has to be trained for the purposes of the 
latter, and therefore any attempt to upset seriously this 
relation between them would be of doubtful value. 

For, as explained in an earlier chapter, what is learnt 
indirectly and instinctively is often as important as what is 
definitely taught. Much of his trade a boy acquires un- 
consciously by working with and among skilled men, and 
keeping his eyes open to see what they do and how they do 
it. The extent of this, indeed, is seldom realized. It is 
a thing that only the workshop can provide ; and this alone 
gives it an enormous advantage. Moreover, even where 
" in the shop a boy gets taught to work only one machine " 
and in the School " he can come and learn all," yet the part 
of the former in showing a lad what he requires to know and 
by what methods he shall work, is none the less vital. For 
at the School he has to choose his work according to the 
conditions of his trade, and he can only make the right choice 
by first getting workshop experience. In short, his work 
at the School has to be properly co-ordinated with his 
work in the shop, and this can only be done by making the 
whole of the teaching in both alike centre round the needs 
of the latter. 

Finally there remain to be considered the difficulties 
that face the Trade and Technical Schools in carrying on 
not only their present work, but the large extensions of it that 


may legitimately be expected. In this chapter only those 
which hinder them from actually doing this will be con- 
sidered, and treatment of the causes which prevent boys 
from fully utilizing the facilities they provide must be 
postponed to the next chapter. 

Perhaps the greatest of the difficulties in question is that 
of keeping their teaching and methods in touch with work- 
shop conditions. In the past their failure to do this has been 
one of their greatest mistakes ; and even now complaints to 
this effect are not infrequent. For the new r er Schools more 
particularly have still got to buy their experience and learn 
from their errors. The need, however, has never been so 
fully realized as it is now. 

The difficulty arises partly from the fact that trade, as 
opposed to technical, teaching is not suited to, or has not been 
developed to suit, some industries, and that it is only 
available in certain branches of these, or at a later stage. 
Now the harder it is to give any teaching at all, the more 
easy will be its divorce from that of the shop, and where 
the methods of the Schools cannot be upon the same general 
lines, their value is correspondingly limited. 

Again, in a class, a boy does not always work under 
competitive conditions ; and this constitutes a second 
obstacle. At the machine or the bench he has to produce 
within a certain time and at a certain price. In the Schools 
he proceeds rather on educational lines, taking his time and 
not hurrying and often aiming primarily at artistic per- 
fection. The workshop, on the other hand, requires this less 
than to have the work carried out both well and rapidly, 
combining, in short, speed and accuracy. The most valuable 
results, therefore, will be obtained by the former in pro- 
portion to their power to teach work under the conditions 
required in ordinary production and to their success in 
avoiding unsuitable methods. 

The responsible authorities are fully alive to this and 
have taken steps to meet it, and the most successful Trade 
Schools attain this object and at the same time reach a 
high standard of workmanship. Thus even when the diffi- 


culty has not been completely overcome, their teaching 
retains a high practical value and acts as a corrective of 
bad workshop influences. Nevertheless a difficulty of this 
sort does not cease to exist when it has been removed for 
the time being. Workshop methods are continually 
changing and developing and great vigilance is necessary 
to ensure that those of the School shall continue to keep 
in touch with them. 

Thirdly, want of space often prevents the latter from 
doing the work of a trade as it is ordinarily done : for they 
cannot always work to scale. This matter has already 
been dealt with, but one or two examples may be given. 
Thus a joiner's foreman told me : " Originally the boy 
goes to the top shop where the deal work is. This is where 
the Technical Schools are at a disadvantage since they do 
not and often cannot operate upon deal, but only use the 
smaller woods and work on a smaller scale." Again, a 
foreman stonemason said : " The Schools cannot teach 
practical work as the workshop can. For one reason they 
do not work to size, and you cannot learn to work from 
models and a one-inch scale. The School cannot partly 
from want of space teach the plain, simple work which 
you must learn first and therefore in the workshop. What 
the School does teach is the finer and more intricate work, 
which is specially useful to those who want to rise in the 

Other considerations restrict not so much the amount 
that a School can teach, as its power to do so to the best 
advantage. The first of these concerns the supply of 
instructors. The latter require a special combination of 
qualities and need not only to be good craftsmen, but to 
be versed in the theory and principles of their business, 
and to possess capacity to teach. Now all these powers 
are not found in a very large number of men, and thus failure 
to satisfy one or other of these requirements excludes or 
unfits many for the task. On the other hand, the number 
of available foremen and leading hands is not very large, 
and some of them do not believe in a Trade School or do not 


wish to teach in one. Hence the supply of good teachers 
is limited. 

Moreover they should maintain as much as possible their 
connexion with the actual work of their trades in order 
to keep the practice of the Schools abreast of industrial 
development. It is best, therefore, if they can continue 
to work at them. This particularly affects the younger 
men. When teaching only in the evening they can, and 
often do, spend the day at the bench, and a few evenings 
a week at the class. When teaching in the daytime, how- 
ever, they can at best only put in part of it in the shop, 
and eventually cease to work there at all, since an employer 
will naturally prefer a full-timer. On the other hand, if 
he is not actually working at a trade, a man requires a wide 
experience if he is to keep in touch with all its changes, and 
this experience the younger teacher naturally cannot 
possess. Hence their capacity is limited as well as the 
supply of them. 

Lastly, the fact that attendance . is voluntary further 
hinders the Schools. This matter will be dealt with more 
fully in the next chapter, but its chief results may be briefly 
mentioned here. First, it is difficult to induce boys to take 
up anything but what bears directly on the manual work 
of their trades, and they often refuse to attend classes 
upon the theory and general principles. This has now been 
partly overcome by making " courses " compulsory in 
Junior Commercial and Technical Institutes, but the change 
has been accompanied by a serious drop in the number of 
students. Secondly, there is not sufficient hold over them 
to render possible an organization of different kinds of 
teaching according to the ages of the students. This 
difficulty also the new re-organization scheme of the Lon- 
don County Council is attempting to overcome. Thirdly, 
a very large number drop out in the course of a single 
session or fail to keep up attendance for more than one. 

These do not exhaust the difficulties in the way of 
technical and trade teaching in the Schools. Others will 
be dealt with in the next chapter, and more particularly 


those in which the special conditions prevailing in London 
are of importance. To sum up, therefore, their activities 
are necessarily confined to supplementing and perfecting 
the training of the workshop. But within this limitation 
they have a great and growing part to play. Much as 
they have done in the past, in the future they can and 
should do more. If they can only supplement the work 
of the shop, they are doing so to an ever-increasing extent. 
They can continue to impart those higher branches of 
knowledge which have always been their particular field ; 
they can supply deficiencies and remedy defects in work- 
shop teaching, and can often give a better preliminary 
training between fourteen and sixteen than the latter can. 
But to fulfil these functions completely, they have still 
far to go and possess as yet neither the organization nor 
the facilities required for the purpose. Moreover, their 
future development will be even more extensive than 
intensive. Much as they may improve their teaching, 
they will do even more by increasing the number to whom 
they give it from the present small fraction of the juvenile 
population until they come to embrace the whole. 


Object of the Chapter Manual Training Its Establishment 
Children to whom it is given Its Real Object To increase 
General Intelligence and Dexterity Objections urged against 
it Unpractical Character Over- Stocking Its Merits Better 
Choice of Employment assisted Early Test of Capacity. 

Establishment of Central Schools with Industrial or Com- 
mercial Bias To provide for abler Children up to the age of 
15 Entry into such Schools Their Object and Curriculum. 

The Day Trade Schools The number and age of their 
students The Character of their Teaching Relation of 
General to Trade Education Their Objects Aim at Fitting 
Boys for Higher Posts in Industry Their Advantages over the 
Workshop Criticisms of their work similar to those of Manual 
Training Growth of support from Employers Care required 
to avoid repetition of early mistakes. 

Continued Education Its two parts Number of Classes 
and Students Proportion of them dealing with Literary, 
Commercial and Industrial Subjects Proportion of Boys 
under twenty in attendance : in all subjects, in Skilled 
Trades Numbers attending at each year of age. 

Proportions at different ages Proportions earning Grants 
Large Proportion who receive no real continued Education 
at all. 

Re-organization of London Evening Schools Its Salient 
Features : Grading of Institutes ; Adaptation of Teaching to 
Ages of Students ; the Course System Value of the Scheme 
Its Prospects. 

Recent growth and present position of Evening Trade Schools 
proper Enthusiasm of many Students Gradual Creation of 
"Habit of Attendance" Means by which Students are 
attracted Influence under a Voluntary System of Students 
and others Part played by Voluntary and Official Agencies. 

Attitude of the Parties concerned Stages in the Development 



of an Institution The Employers Little either of Root and 
Branch Opposition or of Enthusiastic Support The Great 
Majority give a Moderate Support, and try to influence their 
boys to go Actual Compulsion considered inadvisable. 

The Question of Time off Usually Refused Reasons for 
this Employers not convinced of its benefits It is con- 
sidered unnecessary Difficulties of granting it not realized 
It is not always beneficial to the boys. 

Forms taken by Time-Off Two afternoons per week More 
than employers are prepared to grant Half an hour or an 
Hour before the ordinary time Excusing from working over- 
time The latter much more frequently granted and much 
more practicable. 

The Boys Enthusiastic Minority The " Ins and Outs " 
The Majority that fails to attend The Sacrifices Involved 
Difficulty of reaching the Schools Influence of Overtime 
The Arrangements of Ordinary Hours of Labour. 

Are Hours such that boys cannot profit by attendance ? 
Conflicting Opinions Many foremen answer the question 
in the negative- -The answer varies with length of hours and 
character of work As regards a great many an affirmative 
reply is necessary. 

Other Influences preventing attendance Competition of 
Clubs, Brigades and Scouts The Control they exercise The 
Counter-Attractions of City Life Natural Attitude and 
Instinct of a Boy of fourteen The " Bread and Butter " view 
of Education. 

Failure to keep up Attendance Decreasing leakage among 
Older Boys Long Summer Vacation Failure to grasp instruc- 
tion Inability to find suitable Classes Getting Tired of 

Problem to this extent rather that of keeping boys at School 
than of inducing them to go Much has been done to promote 
"habit of attendance" Future Requirements. 

THE last chapter considered the general work and 
position of Trade and Technical Schools, and the present 
one is concerned with the provision of them in London, 
and the extent to which it is taken advantage of. It 
deals broadly with all forms of Continued Education, 
including the Manual Training that is given in the Ele- 
mentary Schools themselves. Such teaching, therefore, 
may be divided into five classes namely, Manual Training, 
Instruction with a Commercial or Industrial Bias in the 
Central Schools, Day Trade Instruction for those who have 
left School, but have not yet started in the workshop, the 


ordinary Evening Continuation Schools, and Trade and 
Technical Schools proper. 

Manual Training was started in 1888, During the first 
two years of the experiment there was no authority in the 
day schools' code for expenditure on this subject. The 
cost of conducting the work, therefore, could not be under- 
taken by the Education Authority and the necessary funds 
were provided by the Worshipful Company of Drapers 
and the City and Guilds of London Institute. In 1890 it 
was recognized as an elementary schools' subject, and passed 
to the control of the School Board for London, and when it 
was transferred to the Education Committee of the County 
Council by the Act of 1903,! a very large number of children 
were already receiving it. The work done consists almost 
entirely of woodwork, though there is a small amount of 
metalwork. 2 A number of Schools are grouped round 
a Centre, and each sends classes of its children to them 
on one morning or afternoon in each week. The num- 
ber of available places is not yet sufficient to receive all 
who are qualified, but the deficiency is being steadily 

At first all children who had reached the fifth standard, 
and all over twelve years of age in the lower ones were 
eligible to attend : but in 1907 a uniform age was fixed 
eleven for the upper standards, and eleven-and- 
three-quarters for the lower. Thus the intention is that 
all pupils shall receive ultimately at least two years' instruc- 
tion, whilst lighter manual work has also been introduced 
into the lower standards of the Elementary Schools them- 

The development of Manual Training in the Elementary 
Schools, since it was taken over by the London County 
Council in 1904, is shown by the following table, from which 
it will be seen that the numbers receiving instruction have 
been largely increased and the deficiency of places as 
steadily diminished. 

1 3 Edw. VII. c. 24, Education (London) Act, 1903. 

2 About 3,000 children receive instruction in this. 




Number of 


of Boys 

(per cent.) 


March 31. 



of Boys 
on Roll. 

eligible to 

of (4) Places. 

to (5). 























20 4 











































21 74,000 






Much misunderstanding still exists on this subject. 
Manual Training does not profess to prepare boys for 
definite industries, still less does it pretend to teach a 
trade. It has two main objects. One of them may be 
called purely educational, and it is this one that is most 
insisted upon now. The result aimed at is to assist and 
further mental development by means of manual work, 
which is thus made to serve the same objects as the more 
purely literary subjects of the curriculum. " Learning 
by doing " it has been not inaptly described, and it thus 
seeks to increase knowledge and broaden the mind through 
the hand and eye. 

Secondly, it is claimed that boys who have had the benefit 
of such Manual Training are likely to have improved 
chances of making their way in the workshop. These it 
will give them, not by fitting them for any one thing, but 
by giving a general training to the eye and hand, which 
will help them to fit themselves for anything. So, too, 
that broadening of the mind, which has just been mentioned 
as one of its educational results, has also its value indus- 
trially. For it will assist them to adapt themselves in later 
life to changes in industrial conditions. To do this a higher 
level of general rather than of special capacity is required, 
so that when one thing fails him a man can turn more 


easily to something else. In this respect, however, Manual 
Training can do little more than pave the way for further 
work in Continuation Classes. 

On the other hand, employers and foremen are almost 
unanimous in saying that this Manual Training gives little 
or no help in teaching any particular trade. A slight 
knowledge of tools and their uses is about the best that is 
credited to it, and generally the verdict is even less favour- 
able. " Such training," one employer said, " ought only 
to teach boys how to handle the tools, and by professing 
to teach them to make things it does harm, by giving the 
boys inflated ideas of how much they know " ; and a fore- 
man said that the little it could teach would be very 
quickly picked up in the shop in any case. Others, again, 
regard it as valueless to "give them [the boys] a few tools 
and some small bits of wood to play about with," or point 
out that " the work is too small and the boys are helpless 
when they have to work on abroad plain surface," or say 
that " the boys learn a little at the Elementary School, 
but not much, because it all has to be unlearnt." When, 
moreover, they get a wrong idea of their own capacity, and 
try to set up their knowledge against that of the foreman, 
it renders them positively less teachable than an absolutely 
raw boy, and consequently the latter is often preferred. 

Admitting the seriousness of this last complaint, however, 
the answer to these strictures has already been given that 
Manual Instruction is not intended to equip boys for parti- 
cular trades. It may be frankly admitted, indeed, that 
the danger of giving them a wrong idea of their capacity 
is a real one, and that in other respects improvement is 
still possible, but any such slight difficulties are more than 
compensated for by the benefits that have resulted from it. 

It has also been attacked from another point of view as 
tending to cause too many boys to enter certain industries, 
some of which seem specially to attract them for other 
reasons, or on what may be called general social grounds. 
But less is now heard of this objection than formerly. Yet 
undoubtedly it has occasionally resulted in boys taking up 


woodworking who might not otherwise have done so. But, 
so far as my experience goes, these are usually possessed of 
a real liking and capacity for it, and when this is so, Manual 
Training has had the entirely good result of causing the right 
sort of boy to enter the right sort of trade. Nor will this 
necessarily cause the latter to be overstocked. For if the 
number of vacancies is limited, these lads will simply obtain 
them in place of others who are probably less capable. 1 If, 
on the other hand, overstocking does result, this is less the 
fault of Manual Training, which provides a better class of 
boy, than of lack of proper organization in other directions. 
i Secondly, the effect may be not to cause boys to enter 
a particular trade, but to prevent them from doing so. 
One result of the haphazard way in which employment is 
so often selected is that frequently after a year or two a 
lad finds himself unsuited to his work and has to find some- 
thing else. Now in the case of woodwork two or three 
years of Manual Training at School will give him some idea 
as to whether he is fitted for it ; and, if he is not, will cause 
him to avoid it. Probably a more serious danger is that 
some, with real capacity for manual work, will be quite dis- 
heartened by its initial difficult ies, and this is a further rea- 
son for giving a long spell of such instruction to every one. 
When all due allowance is made, moreover, the assistance 
given by it in the choice of an occupation is one of its 
greatest merits, and it will probably play a considerable part 
in carrying out any comprehensive scheme of After-Care. 
For whilst it cannot test a boy's fitness for individual 
trades, it can show to which of the chief branches of 
employment, manual or clerical, he should go. In this 
matter mistakes are very often made, but Manual 
Training soon makes it clear whether " a chap is any good 
with the tools," and, if he is not, he quickly finds it out for 
himself. It may also do something to bring other latent 
capacities to light, especially in the case of drawing or 
design. Similarly, harm is often done when a boy of 

1 Or again, if the trade is largely recruited from outside London, 
the result may be to increase the proportion of London-bred workmen. 


moderate ability attempts to enter a skilled trade, and 
only becomes an inferior mechanic " a good labourer 
spoilt " and here again his level of ability is likely to be dis- 
closed in time. This Training, in short, helps to produce 
a preliminary classification of the boys, though as regards 
particular industries only woodworking and occasionally 
metalwork are directly affected, and in them the value of 
the actual teaching is not very great. Its real work, there- 
fore, is to fit boys generally for industrial life, and to assist 
them to discover their right place in it. 

During the last few years, moreover, a far more definite 
step in the direction of a general preparation for employment 
has been taken by the establishment of Central Schools by 
the London County Council, " with the view of giving suitable 
pupils a course of instruction with a definite bias towards 
some kind of industrial or commercial work ! " x These 
are conducted under the Board of Education code of regu- 
lations for public elementary schools, but the curriculum 
is organized on the assumption that pupils will stay at 
school till between fifteen and sixteen years of age. Some 
of them are intended to prepare their pupils for business 
or clerical occupations, and give special attention to modern 
languages, book-keeping, shorthand, typewriting and 
commercial correspondence ; others to fit them for indus- 
trial employment, and in them importance is attached to 
science, drawing, handicraft (for boys) and domestic economy 
(for girls) ; and a certain number take pupils of both 
classes. The three types of School are said to have a com- 
mercial, an industrial, and a dual, bias respectively. The 
curriculum of each type has to satisfy a certain minimum 
of requirements, but otherwise may be varied according to the 
needs of different districts. In all the establishment of sixty 
of these schools has been approved by the Council, and at the 
end of January, 1914, forty-eight of them were in existence. 

Entry into a Central School is at the beginning of each 
educational year (April) and to be eligible for admission, 

1 Handbook Explanatory of the Duties of the Special Selection Com- 
mittees appointed in Respect of the Central Schools, 


a boy or girl must be less than twelve, and not less than 
eleven, on the following July 31, and must have reached 
a class corresponding to Standard V or a higher one. 
Normally, therefore, pupils will be between ten years 
and eight months, and eleven years and eight months 
at the time of admission, though certain exceptions are 
allowed. The Schools are organized on the basis of a 
four years' course, the parents undertaking that their 
children shall remain at school till between fifteen and 
sixteen. To meet the difficulty of keeping them there 
after the age of fourteen, however, the Council is awarding 
a limited number of junior county exhibitions to those in 
attendance at a Central School as from the time they attain 
fourteen years of age. 

The selection of pupils is in the hands of special Com- 
mittees and will be determined by a number of considera- 
tions namely, the recommendations of head teachers and 
district inspectors, the percentages of marks obtained by 
children at the previous terminal examination, the results 
of junior county scholarship examinations, the probability 
of the children remaining at school long enough to justify 
the change, and, in the case of Schools with an industrial bias, 
specimen drawings and other evidence of manual dexterity. 
Special importance is attached to the latter, and the Council 
has determined that 

" A lower percentage of marks may be accepted in respect of 
pupils who show exceptional ability in drawing or unusual 
dexterity in handicraft, provided that the general education is 
such as to enable them to profit by the instruction given in the 
Central School." 1 

The Central School thus gives " an educational course 
not provided in the public elementary graded schools or 
in the secondary schools." 2 In each type it seeks to give 
definite preparation for one of the two main branches of 
employment, manual and clerical, and in each case a certain 
proportion of the week has to be devoted to definite occupa- 
tional teaching. Thus throughout the course schools with 

1 London County Council : Explanatory Handbook, p. 7. 

2 Ibid., Appendix II, p. 20, quoting from Chapter XV of the Ele- 
mentary Schools Handbook. 


an industrial bias are to give not less than ten nor more than 
twelve hours a week to practical work, consisting, in the case 
of boys, of science (including mensuration), drawing, clay- 
modelling, wood and metalwork, and, in special cases, 
leather- work and printing and other approved subjects. 1 The 
attempt is thus made to give a general preparation either 
for industrial or commercial employment, but without an 
attempt, such as is made in the Day Trade Schools, to give 
a preliminary training in particular trades. Thus the 
County Council claim 

" The chief objective is to prepare boys and girls for immediate 
employment on leaving school, and the instruction should there- 
fore be such that children will be prepared to go into business 
houses or workshops at the completion of the course without 
any intermediate special training." 2 

These Schools, therefore, are intended to provide for the 
abler boys and girls something better than the ordinary 
elementary school can give them, ability being interpreted 
in a wide sense. Thus only those who have reached a cer- 
tain standard of attainment are eligible, and from among 
these the selection is made. Further, such provision for the 
abler children will do much to make the best of their talents, 
and it is rendered all the more necessary by the fact that 
employers do not in many cases engage them for their 
better posts till fifteen or sixteen years of age, The Central 
Schools thus enable them to prepare for this time and to 
avoid the dangers of the intervening period. 

When we come to the Day Trade Schools we find definite 
efforts being made, and with growing success, to provide 
preparation and a definite preliminary training for parti- 
cular trades. The number of schools which take their boys 
for this purpose at thirteen or fourteen that is, at, or a 
little before, the time at which they would normally leave 
School and keep them to the age of sixteen or seventeen, is 
being steadily increased. Moreover one or two industries, 
notably Engineering, are demanding boys who have already 
received two years' Technical Training, and in them the 
policy of not taking learners before the age of sixteen is 

1 Explanatory Handbook, p, 22, 2 Ibid., p. 20, 


particularly common. In Building again, where far fewer 
are taken, some of the bigger firms do not start them before 
they are fifteen or sixteen, and they are stated to " come 
usually from a class who do keep, and can afford to keep, 
their sons at school till this age." Many of them, indeed, 
both in Building and Engineering, are destined to fill higher 
positions than that of the mechanic. 

The Day Trades Schools proper combine this preparation 
of boys or girls for particular groups of trades with an 
extension and improvement of their general education. 
Their pupils consist partly of those who have obtained 
Scholarships carrying with them a maintenance grant and 
partly of others whose parents can afford to keep them at 
school without assistance and pay a fee for their attendance. 
This side of the work of the County Council has developed 
rapidly during the past few years. Thus in a report pre- 
sented to the Education Committee on February 24, 1909, 
the following statement was made 

" The total number of trade scholarships for boys is 142, of 
which thirty are not yet awarded, although authorized. (The 
age at which pupils are admitted is given in brackets against the 
name of each school) : 



Number of Pupils. 




3 rd 


Borough Polytechnic (12 and 

General . 

Engineering . 
Building . 

Engineering . 

ing . . 

Total . . 



4 1 



47 1 

35 2 




Central School of Arts and 
Crafts (14-16) . . . . 
Paddington Technical Institute 

School of Building (13-16) 
School of Engineering and 
Navigation (13-14) . 
Shoreditch Technical Institute 




1 Including five 4th year pupils. 2 Including fourteen 4th year pupas. 


This development has been continued since the date of 
this report, and instruction under similar conditions is also 
given at other institutions such as the Northampton Insti- 

The above does not, however, exhaust the number of 
those who are receiving some form of day trade instruction. 
In the thirteen Institutions maintained by the County 
Council alone the numbers of students of both sexes and 
of all classes were as follows : 

Day Students. 



September i 
to March 31 
or February 28. 1 



making at 
least one 


(3) of (2). 

in March or 












+ 231 


+ 167 






+ 262 






+ 228 




+ 355 


+ 256 






+ 373 




+ 390 






+ 49 


+ 69 




+ 162 


+ H5 


These figures, however, cover all day students, and include 
those in art and domestic economy. Many of them are 
only attending particular classes for two or three hours a 
week. In the Day Trade Schools proper they give their 
whole time during a course, usually of three or four years, 
though in one, the School for Waiters, it lasts for one only. 

Entrance into them is secured either by passing a 
qualifying examination or by obtaining a scholarship, 
the former providing for those whose parents can 
keep them at school till sixteen without assistance, 

1 The returns covered the period to the end of March and attend- 
ance during-March from 1904-5 to 1908-9 inclusive, and the period 
to the end of, and attendance during, February subsequently. 


and the latter for those who must have help. Literary 
education and trade teaching are combined in different 
proportions during each year, the former occupying a larger 
part of the time in the first than in the second or third. It is 
given, however, with special reference to the needs of the 
workshop and particularly of the industries concerned. 
Thus, drawing, and design are so taught and arithmetic 
takes the form of workshop arithmetic. Secondly, the 
trade teaching is based on a group of trades, the boy on 
entry having to declare his intention to enter one of them, 
but not as a rule selecting that one until later. 1 For two 
years he is instructed generally in the principles, methods 
and tools appropriate to the whole group and only specializes 
in the third. 

The Day Trade School has, therefore, several objects. 
It seeks to give a wider outlook and greater adaptability to 
the changing conditions of industry than can be derived 
from learning in a single firm. Within the trade group 
with which it deals, it strives to apply the principle of selec- 
tion more carefully and to fit each boy to the exact position 
for which he is best suited. Moreover, by compelling him 
to declare his intention to enter such an industry, it does 
something to ensure that the students shall be those who 
would have entered it in any case. Thirdly, not merely 
does it aim at putting children of the well-to-do working 
classes into good positions, but it seeks by means of its 
system of Scholarships to do the same thing for the able 
children of poor parents, thus rendering possible a wider 
range of choice in filling the better positions. In this way 
it provides a superior form of education for those who must 
enter the higher ranks of industry, if they are to do so at 
all, by way of the workman's bench, and gives them also a 
better start in life than they would otherwise be likely to 

Thus the Schools do not, as a rule, limit themselves to 

1 E.g., at the Shoreditch Technical Institute, the wood-working 
and allied trades Cabinet Making, Carpentering, Carving, Coach 
and Van Building, Coopering, Upholstery, and so on, 


teaching the elements of manual work. They do teach this, 
but usually with the hope that their students will even- 
tually go further. " We seek to bring on boys," one of their 
Principals said, " not as ordinary mechanics, but to rise 
higher than this." Now the broader and more general 
education, the more complete knowledge of the rudiments 
of a trade, and, above all, the early habituation to attendance 
at Technical Classes, not only give a better start in learning 
the actual work than the average boy gets, but often incul- 
cate better industrial habits and more favourable methods 
of working. The students of the Trade School possess, as a 
rule, an advantage in capacity, and add to it the further 
superiority given by a training that is peculiarly suited to 
their purpose. Moreover, as one foreman insisted, it is 
not so much the best craftsman who rises to fill the higher 
posts, but the man who has the best grasp of an industry 
in all its bearings commercial, practical, and scientific 
and in this respect these students get a considerable initial 

Nor must their advantages in learning the manual work 
be forgotten. In the shops many boys can only get labouring 
jobs for the first two years after they leave the Elementary 
School. Others, where there is no contract, are either over- 
specialized or allowed to run wild. The Trade School, on 
the other hand, substitutes two or three years of careful 
preliminary training under definite and adequate super- 
vision, which often renders possible a higher level of crafts- 
manship later on, and this fact employers are beginning 
to appreciate. Finally, at fourteen the boy has to fight 
his battles alone, ignorant, ill-equipped and often unguided, 
knowing neither what he wants nor how to set about getting 
it. At sixteen or seventeen, after his two or three years' 
course, he at least knows not only what he wants but what 
he ought to avoid. Better able to look after himself, he 
is better looked after, and possesses sufficient knowledge to 
make him of some value to an employer. 

Criticisms emanate from various quarters. It used to 
be urged against the Schools by some Trade Union officials 


that they produced a surplus of cheap half-taught labour, 
which could be used to cut wage rates ; but far less 
is now heard of this complaint. In view, moreover, of the 
small number taken, of the care exercised in selecting boys 
who would have entered the industries concerned in any 
case, and of the thought devoted to finding good openings 
for them, this contention is scarcely tenable. Sometimes, 
again, it is argued that certain trades are overstocked, and 
that additional boys should not enter them. Against this 
it can be urged that it is the mode of entry rather than the 
number who enter that is affected by the Schools, and that 
by entering in this way boys have often a better chance of 
full employment later on than they otherwise would have 
done. Above all it is unfair to deprive the abler children 
of the present generation of their chances in those industries 
which, if temporarily overstocked, are likely to provide 
full employment again in the future. 

Speaking from a somewhat different standpoint, many 
employers and foremen maintain that the work is unpractical 
and that it unfits boys for the workshop, and not a few of 
them insist on getting their learners direct 'from the Elemen- 
tary School. Certainly the methods of some Day Trade 
Schools have not always been sufficiently adapted to the 
needs of the workshop, nor even now is the danger entirely 
an imaginary one, and undoubtedly some of their boys, 
when they start at the bench, presume too much on what 
they have learnt at them. 

Nevertheless the Schools are living down the prejudices 
of the past and are even creating a demand for their pupils. 
" Twenty good firms send to us when they want a boy " 
" Only one of the boys who have passed through the School 
is out of a job and this entirely his own fault " " Once you 
can get an employer to take one boy he often comes for 
another," are among their more favourable experiences ; 
and some firms refuse to engage their students simply be- 
cause they have methods of getting learners as, for instance, 
from among their workmen's sons, which prove satisfac- 
tory and provide as many as they require. On the other 


hand, there is a definite demand in some trades for those 
who have had this preliminary training. The case of 
Engineering has already been mentioned, and in Silver- 
smithing and other Art Metal Work the value of the materials 
causes employers to prefer those who have had " the rough 
edges knocked off them " and know a little about the tools 
and processes. The Schools, moreover, are still in their 
infancy. They have corrected many of their initial mis- 
takes, and are beginning to gain the support of employers, 
though they have still ample scope for greater development 
in the future. 

Continued Education has already been described as falling 
into two parts Ordinary Evening Continuation Schools, 
which aim either at extending and developing general 
education or at preparing for commercial employments 
and Trade and Technical Schools. For the year ending 
July 31, 1912, * the Board of Education returned the 
students enrolled in evening schools of any kind in the 
County of London as 96,247 men and boys and 80,965 women 
and girls, of whom 70,508 and 56,744 respectively qualified 
for the grant ; that is to say, made a minimum attendance of 
fourteen hours during the session. 

No separate return is made for London of the number 
of classes in different subjects, but in the whole of England 
and Wales, well over 80,000 2 were held in that year. Of 
these nearly one quarter gave literary, 3 and over one-fifth 
commercial, instruction. 4 Those bearing upon crafts 
and industries 5 were less than one-fifth of the whole, and 
in addition to them some of the 5,665 science classes are 
used for acquiring technical knowledge. 

1 Statistics of Public Education in England and Wales, Part I, 
Educational Statistics, 1911-12 Cd. 6964. 

2 For detailed figures see Appendix. 

3 Including classes in Pure Mathematics, but not those in Practical 

4 Including Commercial Subjects (13,220) and Commercial Arith- 
metic (2,381). 

6 Industrial Subjects (7,413) Industrial Arithmetic (4,857), 
and Manual Instruction (1,749). 


Altogether of the 96,247 male students in London, 55,344 
were under twenty years of age ; and of the total number 
less than three-quarters attained even the necessary modi- 
cum of regularity to qualify for the Board of Education 
grant. No separate returns of those earning grants at 
different ages are given for this year, but those made in 1909 
showed that the proportions were considerably higher in the 
case of men over twenty than in that of youths and boys. 
Now the recent Census gave the number of occupied males 
between fourteen and twenty in the County of London as 
196,660. Thus those who make any attendance at all are 
about two in seven, and those who get any serious amount 
of continued education in any one year not much more 
than one in five. Probably the real proportions are even 
smaller, since some of the students live outside the county 

There are no means of estimating them in different branches 
of work. Probably they are somewhat more favourable 
in clerical employments and in the more highly skilled 
trades, whilst few low -skilled workers appear to use the 
Schools. The matter was dealt with in a paper read before 
the Imperial Education Conference of 1911 by Sir Robert 
Blair, Education Officer of the London County Council, 
and from the figures given by him it appears certain that in 
a few cases, notably with engineers' fitters and turners, 
and in the photographic trades, the majority of the learners 
utilize the classes, whilst in some others, such as brick- 
laying, pianoforte-making, and the manufacture of leather, 
only a very small proportion do so. On the whole, how- 
ever, the proportion of those who are receiving some form 
of continued education is probably somewhat larger 
in the case of learners in skilled trades than in that of all 

The age distribution of male students under twenty in 
the County of London during the year 1911-12 and of 
all occupied males below this age at the Census of 1911 
is given in the following table : 



Male Students. 
Statistics year 
ending July 31, 1912). 

All Occupied. 
(Census of 1911). 


Under 14 . 




14-15 . . . 




15-16 . 

II, 208 



16-17 . 




17-18 . . . 




18-19 . . . 








Total . . 




Thus whilst between fourteen and fifteen nearly three- 
fifths of all the boys at work made some sort of attendance, 
the proportion had dropped to a little over one-third in the 
following year and then fell steadily till it was barely one- 
sixth between nineteen and twenty. As some consolation 
for this, the regularity of attendance shows decided improve- 
ment at the later ages. Hence the latest return 1 we possess 
of those qualifying for grant returns a little over one-half 
as having done so between fourteen and fifteen, nearly 
two-thirds between fifteen and sixteen and not very far 
off three-quarters between nineteen and twenty. 

The fact that so many juvenile workers receive no con- 
tinued education at all or at best the merest smattering of 
it promises to prove one of the most serious difficulties in 
the way of establishing universal and compulsory Continua- 
tion Schools. For to do this involves extending attendance 
from the enthusiastic minority to the far larger majority 
who are indifferent or hostile. On the other hand, trouble 
at present arises not so much in securing attendance in the 
first place, as in inducing the children to keep it up, and 
probably this is largely due to the voluntary system. One 

1 Unfortunately separate figures for those earning grants at 
each year of age have not been given since the volume of Statistics 
of Public Education for 1908-9. See Appendix V. The proportion 
of the whole number who qualified for grant was considerably higher 
in 1911-12 than in 1908-9. 


may hope, therefore, that, once it is made compulsory, such 
attendance will soon be taken as a matter of course, and that 
it will grow into a habit, which in many cases will continue 
after the close of the period of compulsion. 

This will be the most convenient point at which to con- 
sider the re-organization of its Evening Schools 1 which was 
sanctioned by the County Council in June, 1913, and brought 
into force in September of that year. By this numerous 
changes were introduced, including large modifications and 
improvements in the position of the teachers. Perhaps the 
most important of those affecting the attendance and in- 
struction of the pupils are connected with the re-grading 
of the different Institutes, by which name the various schools 
and centres are for the future to be known, and with making 
the course system compulsory in many of them. 

The former has resulted in the following classification : 

I. Polytechnics, Technical Institutes and Schools of Art 

providing for all advanced technical students, their 
number for the time being remaining unchanged. 

II. 22 2 Junior Technical Institutes closely linked with 

them and giving (i) the rudiments of technical 
education for those who want no more, and (2) 
a preparation for young students who propose 
to attend the higher institutions later on. 

III. 30 Commercial Institutes, estimated to have some 

30,000 students in attendance, providing advanced 
commercial education for young men and women. 

IV. 5o 2 Junior Commercial Institutes for those seeking 

elementary commercial instruction at some school 
easily accessible to them. Where necessary pre- 
paratory courses will be provided. 

V. 30 2 Women's Institutes dealing with domestic subjects, 

health, and needlework and providing teaching in 
non-vocational subjects. Special women's insti- 

1 See the Minutes of the Meeting of the London County Council 
on June 3, 1913, and that of the Education Committee on May 7, 
for a detailed account of the scheme. 

2 Approximate numbers. 


tutes will also be developed in connexion with the 
three Girls' Trade Schools. 

VI. 25 1 Institutes with more than one department in 

districts which are not large enough nor sufficiently 
well defined to demand one or more schools with 
a single objective. Such may combine the func- 
tions of, for instance, junior technical and com- 
mercial, or of junior commercial and women's 
institutes, and so on. 

VII. General Institutes not to exceed 40, to provide 

for all classes of students. Upon these only the 
minimum of restriction will be placed as regards 
age and curriculum. 

VIII. 25 x Free Institutes, giving a general but not a com- 
mercial education. 

IX. ii 1 Schools for the Deaf, which will be continued as 

at present. 

X. 12 Institutes giving instruction in non-vocational 

subjects, confined to students over eighteen years 
of age. 

XI. Post Office and Police Classes and those held in business 

houses or clubs will remain undisturbed for the 

The Junior Institutes are to be closely linked up with 
the corresponding Higher Institutes and will in fact form 
branches of them ; and it is hoped to keep the connexion 
between them clearly before the younger students by arrang- 
ing for periodical visits of their classes to the latter, and 
thus to assist and encourage their transfer to them at the 
proper time. This re-organization further provides as far 
as possible separate Institutes for the different grades of 
students, Commercial and Junior Commercial for clerical 
workers, Technical and Junior Technical for the artisans 
and higher ranks of semi-skilled, and Free and General 
Institutes, both for the low-skilled and for some of the 
others. The Preliminary Courses will also provide for those 
who have difficulty in grasping or assimilating the teaching, 
1 Approximate numbers. 


either because of defective elementary education or because 
they have been absent from school for some time and 
forgotten much of what they learnt there. 

No higher institution of any kind, commercial or technical, 
will admit any student unless he is seventeen years of age, 
or has attended a central or secondary school for not less 
than three years, or has completed a course at a Trade School, 
or produces a certificate of having satisfactorily attended 
a two years' course of study at a junior institute of the same 
type, or satisfies a test of fitness to take full advantage of 
the education offered. On the other hand, no Junior In- 
stitute shall admit or retain pupils who have fulfilled the 
two years' course just mentioned, or who are over eighteen 
years of age on August i of the year in which the evening 
school session opens. The overlapping year is intentional. 
Such a scheme, therefore, is a long step in the direction of 
properly adapting the teaching to the ages of the students 
and confining them in their earlier years to preparatory 
courses or general instruction which will lead up to the higher 
branches of knowledge later on. 

Finally the new organization insists strongly upon the 
course system and largely bases itself upon it. Courses are 
obligatory on all pupils under eighteen in Junior Commercial 
and Technical Institutes and on those who are taking com- 
mercial and technical subjects in General Institutes. 

1 The courses (two hours each night) would, in the main, be 
for three nights' instruction, one night being devoted to tutorial 
work, some preparation or home work, and some light physical 
education, and possibly some music or drawing, the fee for a 
single subject to be not less than the fee for the course. There 
should be a variety of courses suitable for those engaged in 
selling and distribution as well as for those engaged in the count- 
ing house or workshop. The courses would, where necessary, 
include preparatory courses in English, arithmetic, drawing and 
light physical education . . . When the student has not been in the 
seventh standard of an elementary school, or class of similar 
standard, or where, having been in such class, he has been absent 
from school for over a year, he must join the preparatory course 
or submit to a test by a responsible teacher. ... A student under 
eighteen years of age, who fails to make satisfactory attendance 


in any one- subject of the course, except in the case of a non- 
vocational subject, and who cannot produce reasonable grounds 
for absence, should forfeit his fees and be excluded from the 
institute." 1 

Certificates are also to be granted to those students who 
satisfactorily attend a full course. Such, however, will not 
be obligatory in the case of Free Institutes, and as already 
stated a two years' course at any Junior Institute is one of 
the conditions of admission to a higher one before the age 
of seventeen. 

Such are the main outlines of the new scheme. In addi- 
tion to them, the fees have been raised, but the number of 
exemptions from payment increased. Special efforts are to 
be made to enlist the sympathies and support of employers, 
and the Managers of Evening Schools are to be replaced by 
Advisory Committees, who will carry on with important 
extensions the After-care work of the Care Committees of 
Elementary Schools. 

So far as a voluntary system can do so, the plan, though 
not perfect, goes far to provide for the chief requirements 
of the situation ; but it has not yet reached its final form. 
Perhaps three of its changes are most important. One is 
the organization of different classes of Institutes to suit the 
needs of each grade of worker. Secondly, the provision 
of different forms of teaching for younger and older students 
makes it possible to compel them to take the kind of instruc- 
tion adapted to their age and experience, and to prevent 
them from attempting more advanced subjects without the 
necessary preliminary equipment. Previously such an 
arrangement had proved difficult to secure. Thirdly, 
insistence upon the course system will do much to overcome 
the difficulty that has hitherto arisen from the refusal of 
boys to take up anything that does not bear directly on 
their work ; for it makes the study of those subjects, whose 
value they do not see, a necessary condition of obtaining 
instruction in others to whose utility they are alive. Indeed, 

1 Minutes of the Meeting of the Education Committee of the 
Council on May 7, 1913, p. 887. 



this last may prove to be the most far-reaching change 
of all. 

These improvements, however, have not been carried out 
without some loss in other directions, and this indeed is 
inevitable under the present voluntary arrangement. Thus 
the first year's working has shown a decline of 20 per cent, 
in the number of students, and so far there has been only a 
slight increase in regularity of attendance of those who re- 
main. Such, indeed, was inevitable and the course system 
aJone is no doubt responsible for a good many losses. But 
there is no reason to fear that a recovery will not take place 
as soon as the scheme gets better known and understood. 
Generally speaking, it is too early to pronounce a definite 
judgment on its prospects or on the support it will gain from 
employers and others : but it seems to be well conceived 
and to hold out great possibilities of ultimate success. 

Finally 'it is necessary to consider the smaller number 
of schools or institutes which are engaged in the provision 
of Technical Education. This was described in the last 
chapter as being made up of two branches technical teach- 
ing proper in the form of the scientific and other purely 
technical knowledge bearing on different industries, and 
trade teaching of the manual work. Intermediate between 
the two of them is the Higher Trade Teaching of the theory 
and general principles of an employment. 

The Polytechnics and Aided Institutions of the Council are 
mainly occupied in giving either technical teaching proper 
or higher trade teaching, though one or two of them are 
really Trade Schools. 1 The thirteen Maintained Institutes, 
however, are engaged primarily in giving trade teaching 
proper, together with such theoretical and scientific know- 
ledge as is necessary to accomplish their main objects. 
Their growth, therefore, as displayed in the following table, 
may be taken to illustrate that of trade teaching generally 
in London : 

1 Throughout the rest of the chapter the term Trade School will 
be used to denote those institutions whose primary object is the 
giving of trade teaching. 


September i 
to end of 
March or 
February. 1 

to end of 
March or 
February. 3 


making at 
least one 
in March or 
February. 3 

( )on 

of figures in 
Column 4 
to those in 
Column 2. 













+ 762 


+ 851 




+ 356 


+ 198 




+ 312 


+ 284 




+ 991 


+ 541 


igog-io 1 


+ 907 


+ 1,256 


1910-n 1 


+ 259 


+ 8 


I9II-I2 1 


+ I2 3 


- 43 


I9I2-I3 1 


+ 492 


+ 247 


This shows in less than ten years a very satisfactory im- 
provement of "over 4,000 in the numbers enrolled and of 
over 3,000 in attendance of some sort throughout the ses- 
sion, and those who kept it up also increased from just over 
sixty to nearly seventy per cent, of the total number. It 
should be remembered, however, that these schools are 
not confined to trade teaching, but have art, science ard 
domestic economy classes. The latter train women and 
girls for home duties, and their rapid development has no 
doubt accounted for a good part of the increase. Similarly 
the art students are not usually artisans, but are differently 
engaged and have different objects. Still even so the 
returns give evidence of a satisfactory increase both in the 
numbers and attendance of the latter. 

Like other branches of continued education, therefore, the 
Evening Trade Schools have made considerable progress, 
but as yet they do not nearly cover the whole ground nor 
reach more than a minority of the boys. There are many 

1 In 1909-10 and the following years 'the returns are made to the 
end of February, and previously to the end of March. The result is 
slightly to exaggerate the increases between 1908-9 and 1909-10, 


whose attendance is spasmodic and short-lived, and more 
who do not attend at all, and it is just these last who often 
require them most. On the other hand, the minority of 
regular students is a growing and enthusiastic one. The 
success which the Schools have achieved has only been 
attained after considerable effort, and they owe very much to 
the energy and keenness both of present and past members, 
whilst happily an increasing number of employers are now 
encouraging their boys to make use of them. 

Nevertheless their progress is at least steady, if not as 
rapid as might be wished, and both employers and boys 
are being made to realize their character, and are being 
gradually convinced of their merits. In time it may become 
the normal and natural thing for the latter to attend them, 
but that is not so as yet. At the same time the work already 
done has probably gone deeper than appears on the sur- 
face, because at first so much of it must consist of removing 
obstacles and objections. 

( The Trade Schools have also had to buy their experience 
and to learn from their mistakes. This is necessarily a 
slow process, but the " habit " of attendance is nevertheless 
being slowly created and the creation of " habit '' is one of 
the roots of all real progress. Thus in one district attend- 
ance at a School of Engineering and Navigation was coming 
to be regarded as " rather a smart thing " ; whilst it is not 
unusual for one boy to get another to " come along with me." 
Now the growth of such a public opinion among the boys 
themselves will in time be of enormous value to the Schools, 
and though such a public opinion is still in its infancy, 
sufficient progress has been made as to give considerable 
promise for the future. 

The information given to me by those whom I interviewed 
as to how and why they came to attend a Trade School is 
of some interest in throwing light upon the present situa- 
tion. Exclusive of seven who were sent under special 
arrangements by a single firm, I obtained answers from 
seventy-four individuals, and the causes of their attendance 
may be classified as follows : 


Sent by Relatives . . . . . . . -23 

(Fathers 15, five being employers; Brothers 6, two being 

employers) . 
Sent by other Employers and by Foremen . . . .11 

Through shopmates and other friends . . . 14 

By Apprenticing Agencies ...... 6 

Attended Day Trade Schools ...... 6 

Other School Influences ...... 6 

Accidental (Obtaining leaflets or circulars, hearing casual talk, 

etc.) 8 


Of the relatives and friends mentioned above only a very 
few held official positions in the Schools, but four out of six 
brothers, two of the fathers and some of the friends had 
themselves received benefit from such instruction in the 
past or were still receiving it, and as a result were trying 
to induce others to take advantage of it. Similarly a young 
foreman, whom I saw elsewhere, told me : "I got so 
much good out of them myself that I always try to persuade 
others to go in order that they may get the benefit too." 

Two points stand out saliently. First, under a voluntary 
system much must depend on the will and power of present 
students and of employers and foremen thus to interest 
others to attend ; and this, in turn, will vary with the capacity 
of the Schools to provide the sort of instruction that is re- 
quired. It is a pleasing sign, therefore, that so many boys 
are keen to do this ; for valuable as may be the influence of 
others, theirs is the most valuable of all. One boy appeals 
most strongly to another, and his advice is often more 
readily taken than that of foremen or " guv'nors," since the 
latter may be thought to have objects of their own to serve. 
Nevertheless their sympathy and encouragement are of 
great importance ; and their assistance is not confined to the 
giving of time off and other facilities, but arises even more 
definitely from putting clearly before the lads the need and 
advantages of attendance, and from convincing them that it 
is the right and proper thing to do. This support is not so 
general as could be wished, partly as a result of the early 


mistakes of the Schools themselves. At the same time it is 
certainly growing. 

The second point of importance is the part that can be 
played by various agencies, voluntary or official. Day 
Trade Schools not only teach boys to rely on trade classes, 
but to know also what it is that they can give, and similar 
influence is sometimes brought to bear by ordinary Con- 
tinuation Classes and by Manual Training at the Elemen- 
tary Schools. The latter perhaps interests particularly the 
keener boys and those who are good at manual work. Now 
this interest and the influence of instructors causes them to 
take with them, when they leave, the determination to join 
a Trade Class, and so forms the bridge to carry them over 
from the one to the other. 

Apprenticeship Associations and similar bodies not only 
exert a steady and continuous pressure in this direction, 
but do something to secure facilities from the employers ; 
and of all their work this is perhaps least open to criticism. 
Their weakness lies in the fact that they reach only a very 
small number, and the value of what they do consists 
less in their actual achievements than in preparing the 
way for a more general organization of boy labour. This, 
indeed, is already growing up in the establishment and mutual 
co-operation of Juvenile Labour Exchanges and Care Com- 
mittees, who will in time come to do for all boys what these 
Associations are .doing for a few ; and experience too gives 
reason to hope that the wider system, absorbing and 
strengthened by the personnel of these smaller bodies, will 
steadily extend its influence. 

The present position of Trade and Technical Schools, that 
of the former more particularly, can now be shown by 
a brief consideration of the attitude towards them of the 
parties concerned. For in its growth every social institu- 
tion or movement passes through a number of stages. The 
first is that of public ignorance, when it neither enjoys sup- 
port nor suffers from opposition, simply because its existence 
is scarcely realized, much less reasoned about. The next 
step forward is when prejudice, passive opposition, or even 


active hostility are aroused, and a very salutary change this 
often is. It leads outsiders to inquire into the merits of 
the institution concerned, and condemnation, not always 
undeserved, leads to inquiry from within to set right errors 
and mistakes and to adapt it more fully to meet the needs it 
sets out to serve. This has been abundantly true of the 
Trade Schools, and as a result of criticism the faults of their 
earlier teaching have been largely removed. 

The third stage is one of passive acquiescence and sup- 
port ; and it is this point that the great body of employers 
and foremen have now reached. Active opposition has 
ceased, and often the use of the Schools is recommended to 
the boys. But only a minority have as yet advanced to 
the fourth stage of active support and the provision of 
facilities for attendance, though in a few trades, notably 
Engineering and Printing, a very fair proportion have done 
so. The last stage is covered when Compulsory Evening 
Schools, with a corresponding reduction in the hours of 
Juvenile Labour, are " accepted " willingly "as an integral 
part of the industrial system." It has already been reached 
in parts of Germany, notably in Berlin, Frankfurt, Leipzig 
and Munich. In England, however, progress from the 
third stage to the fourth is only beginning. 

Root and branch opposition is found among a minority of 
employers in many trades. .It comes either from inferior 
firms, or from others who believe that they can " teach all 
there is to be taught better than Schools can," or who have 
had an unfortunate experience of their work in the past. 
Often no action is taken one way or the other. Sometimes 
there is no suitable School available. At others the em- 
ployers consider they have no right to bring pressure on the 
boys. " We do not interfere : we have no right to any 
control over what a boy does in his own time." Or, again, 
interference is considered inadvisable, because a boy must 
go of his own free will or not at all : and some " won't be 
troubled " or "do not concern themselves with what he 
does in his own time." 

In very many cases, however, an effort is made to influence 


learners, if only to the extent of bringing the Schools to 
their notice ; and usually something is done to encourage 
them to attend. Some employers merely point out the 
advantage they offer, others exert every influence short 
of actual compulsion, and a few even impress on their boys 
that their chance of rising or of keeping their places depends 
upon attendance at them. ' We insist," I was told by one 
large employer, " that if we are to look after a boy and teach 
him during the day, he must go and learn for himself at a 
Technical School in the evening. The boy who will not 
look after himself in this way is of no use to us." 

The success achieved varies from firms which with all 
their efforts can induce few to go, to others which secure 
their attendance almost without exception. The difference 
is partly to be accounted for by the more obvious nee d for 
technical training in some trades than in others. Again, 
a special connexion between the firm and the School, as 
when an employer is a member of the Council or a foreman 
of the teaching staff, has also some effect. More depends, 
however, on the way in which boys are approached. When 
this is done in a haphazard manner or left to the foreman, 
the result is not likely to be very favourable. Where it is 
done carefully and systematically, it is often a great success. 
Thus one employer said : " We talk well to each boy and 
show him the need of using the Technical Schools, and this 
so stimulates their interest that even if they do not go at 
once, they soon follow their companions there." 

Actual compulsion, indeed, is generally regarded as bad 
policy and often influence and persuasion, properly exer- 
cised, will do all that is necessary or possible. In other 
places advances in wages are sometimes made to depend 
on attendance and progress at the classes, and in London also 
something might be done in this way. There, however, the 
employers prefer to base increases, over and above any 
agreed rate, upon general improvement and capacity and 
not upon work at a Trade School only ; but where, as some- 
times happens, a boy is told clearly that the latter will 
" help him to get on," the effect is likely to be much the 


same. A few firms also pay the fees for their boys ; but 
this is not very often done. 

Least success, as nearly all who have dealt with the matter 
will agree, has been achieved in securing from employers 
"time off" for attendance. For their refusal to grant this 
there are many legitimate reasons, and these will have to be 
fairly met. The idea is still a new one, and many, even of 
those who regard the Schools as useful adjuncts to the work- 
shop, are not yet convinced of the benefit of granting it, 
especially where as much as two afternoons or half-days a 
week are asked for. Many aJso honestly believe that during, 
the daytime a boy is better employed in the shop than in a 
School. Here, therefore, the Schools have to show that they 
can provide something that will make it worth an employer's 
while to incur the trouble and inconvenience involved, and 
the more rapidly they can bring themselves into line with 
the requirements of different industries, and the better they 
can adapt themselves to the convenience of the masters, 1 
the greater will be their progress. Nothing but harm can 
come from the habit of a certain type of person of con- 
tinually grousing and nagging at those of the latter who fail 
to see eye to eye with him. 

Secondly, the opinion is widespread among employers 
that time-off is unnecessary and that the boys have sufficient 
time and energy for the purpose after the day's work is 
over, and foremen are as a rule even more emphatic on this 
point. Sometimes, however, exceptions are made for special 
reasons or special occasions or in favour of those whose homes 
are a long way from the workshop. 

In some of the chief industries, too, hours are such as to 
minimize the difficulties of attendance. In Building they are 
only forty-four a week in the winter months, and fifty during 
the rest of the year. In Engineering and the better-class 

1 This is already done in some cases. Thus at a certain Class 
connected with Art Metal Work the boys left their shops at 5 
p.m. instead of 7 p.m., and the Class was held from 5.30 p.m. to 
7.30 p.m. Thus the latter was held almost entirely during working 
hours, but in such a way as to cause the minimum of inconvenience 
to the employer. 


Furniture Trade they are from fifty to fifty-two and a half 
throughout, work stopping at 5.30 or 6 p.m., as against 4.30 
or 5 p.m. in the Building Trades. In Printing, Art Metal, 
wholesale Cabinet-Making and some of the Metal Trades 
it goes on till 7 p.m. or later ; and hours, except in the first 
named, are often longer. From fifty-five to fifty-seven a 
week are quite common in parts of the woodworking trades. 
In these cases, therefore, attendance involves going straight 
from shop to school, and a boy has to stick at it almost 
continuously from the time he gets up until bedtime. In the 
Building Trades again an early stoppage involves a corre- 
spondingly early start and the long distances that have often 
to be travelled from home to work largely neutralize the 
benefit of shorter hours. The stronger and keener boys 
make the necessary effort, often with advantage to them- 
selves, but this is beyond the powers of many. The con- 
tention, honestly raised by employers and foremen, there- 
fore, does not appear to be altogether tenable. As yet, 
however, the matter has not been laid as clearly before 
them as it might have been, or as it will need to be if their 
co-operation is to be secured. 

Outsiders do not always appreciate the real difficulty in 
the way of granting leave of absence that is caused by the 
conditions of the workshop. Overtime is a case in point. 
A firm may agree to excuse its boys from this, but will 
sometimes find it impossible to carry out the promise com- 
pletely, since circumstances will now and again arise when 
they will have to be kept. Moreover each boy has his definite 
place and duties. When he works in a squad or as mate 
to a man, in particular, those with whom he is associated 
have to stop when he does and if he stops early so must they. 
But even when he works independently, trouble often arises 
if he gets behind with his jobs and keeps others waiting, 
and whilst large firms may be able to employ two shifts, 
those of small or moderate size cannot afford to do so. 

Again, to leave off in this way is not always an advantage 
to the boys themselves. If there is an interesting and 
instructive piece of work to be done, a boy is the better for 


staying to finish it. Otherwise the foreman may have to 
hand it over to some one else. He will then have to be given 
such jobs as will fit in with his hours of labour and so his 
progress may thus be retarded more than it is accelerated 
by what he learns at School. Finally, by working over- 
time during a rush, he may get at the same time good 
work, good experience and good pay, and desires, as little 
as his employer does, to leave to attend classes, " and," 
the Head of a Department in an important School said, 
" he would be a fool if he did go/' 

Where a shop is doing its duty, moreover, a boy can and 
does look to it for the greater part, and perhaps the whole, 
of his manual teaching. These considerations do not in 
my view constitute an argument either against the present 
system of attendance at Trade Classes or against shorter 
hours for boy labour and compulsory Continuation Schools. 
Nevertheless care should be taken to avoid as far as possible 
the loss of valuable workshop experience, and to adapt the 
instruction and the hours of attendance to the needs of each 
industry. Indeed, up to the present, the refusal of individual 
employers to grant time off has often been justified by the 
failure of the Schools to satisfy these requirements. 

Hitherto the actual grant of " time off " has taken various 
forms. Frequently some afternoons, usually two per week, 
are asked for ; but so far only a few firms have seen their 
way to grant so much, partly owing to the inconvenience 
involved and partly because employers generally are not 
convinced that the Schools can give them an adequate re- 
turn for the trouble and loss they may incur in this way. 
Results have been most favourable in the Engineering and 
Printing Trades, but in the case of the former London con- 
ditions sometimes render the policy unworkable. Thus in 
ship-repairing yards overtime is frequent and unavoidable, 
and in the case of many of the large number of small shops 
scattered over a wide area, the time spent in travelling to and 
from a School is often prohibitive. As an alternative, there- 
fore, and to meet these difficulties, it is suggested that the 
boys should be excused from work before breakfast on the 
morning following the class: 


More frequently employers are prepared to let a boy leave 
half an hour or an hour before the ordinary time on the 
days on which he takes his classes, and when work does not 
cease till 7.30 or 8 such an allowance is essential. Here, 
indeed, there is far greater willingness to grant the facilities 
asked for. It is one thing to give a boy a whole afternoon, 
and another to let him go a little earlier in order to get a 
wash and reach the School in time ; and many employers, 
who have never been asked to do so, appear to be willing 
to make such an allowance. 

The same is true of overtime. Sometimes it is absolutely 
necessary to keep the boys, notably in ship-repairing ; 
and in the Art Metal Trades great difficulty arises from the 
fact that their busy season is in the winter and thus involves 
the maximum of interference with the Schools. Probably 
juvenile overtime cannot at present be entirely abolished 
even by legislation ; but where the matter is thoroughly 
taken in hand, it can be enormously reduced, and much 
better regulated. In this direction, the School of Engineer- 
ing at Poplar has achieved considerable success. 

It is interesting to speculate, indeed, whether even better 
results might not have been attained if more attention had 
been paid to such things and less to more ambitious schemes. 
Indeed, since refusal of time-off does not in any sense involve 
hostility to Technical and Trade Teaching as such, it might 
prove advantageous if those concerned were for the present 
to concentrate their attention on the abolition of overtime 
for boys and on obtaining facilities for them to reach the 
Schools in comfort at the ordinary hour for commencing. 
Far greater sympathy and support are likely to be obtained 
from the employers, and the desired object may be attained 
sooner, if less is asked for at first and the pioneers of Trade 
Schools are content to secure it bit by bit. Again, where 
more can be asked, absence from work before breakfast 
on the following morning is sometimes of most value, especi- 
ally where afternoon classes cannot be arranged, and the 
boys have long distances to travel. Above all every effort 
should be made to meet the wishes of employers. Their 


attitude towards the Schools is critical rather than hostile, 
and on the whole favourable to their general work, even 
though they may not be prepared to give the large measure 
of assistance involved in more comprehensive schemes. 
It is up to the Schools themselves, therefore, to convince 
them of their value, and so obtain this more active co-opera- 

Turning to the boys themselves, there is a considerable 
and enthusiastic minority who attend, and attend regularly, 
at the cost of much trouble and sacrifice, involving, as 
attendance often does, a very long day's work, sometimes in 
face of passive discouragement or even active opposition from 
their employers. Many others join the Schools for a time, 
but fail to continue at them. The majority, however, never 
reach them at all, so that those who use them regularly, 
and for a considerable period, are a small minority. 

Their difficulties and sacrifices are very real. In certain 
industries there is as yet no special manual or technical 
training available, though, as a rule, the ordinary Continua- 
tion Schools can provide the boys engaged in them with 
much instruction of value. Hard as it often is, however, to 
make them realize their need of definite trade teaching, it is 
far more so to induce them to join classes for the purpose of 
improving their general education. Where they attend, it 
is usually for the avowed purpose of bettering themselves 
at their trades, and only where such a purpose is to be served 
will they do so. Similarly the willingness of an employer 
to let a boy off for Technical or Trade instruction will not 
extend to more general subjects. 

Moreover, even where the right kind of teaching is avail- 
able, London offers peculiar difficulties, which are not present 
in other towns to anything like the same extent. Its huge 
size and its rapid expansion involve the travelling of longer 
and longer distances, since the workers frequently live very 
far from their work, and home, workshop and school may 
even be in three separate districts. Thus a firm near the 
Edgware Road had apprentices living at Neasden and the 
nearest suitable Institute for them was in Clerkenwell. 


Hence time spent in travelling may be a very serious item. 
Again, even if school and workshop are close together, there 
may be a tedious delay between the close of the one and 
the opening of the other. The position in Printing is com- 
paratively favourable, since a large part of it is concentrated 
round Fleet Street with St. Bride's and one or two smaller 
institutions in the immediate neighbourhood, though firms 
in the outlying districts are not nearly so well served. On 
the other hand, the Building Trades are scattered all over 
London, and in some branches every job may be in a 
different place. The same trouble indeed arises to some 
extent in the engineering trades. Further, where an 
industry is scattered, the adoption of a definite policy by 
employers is far more difficult to secure. 

The more localized trades, on the other hand, afford better 
facilities, especially in those cases in which the employers 
prefer to draw their labour from the immediate neighbour- 
hood or from adjoining districts. To this extent con- 
ditions are especially favourable in the Pianoforte Trade 
and in the Bermondsey Leather Trade, but with them other 
difficulties have hitherto hindered the development of such 
teaching. The Cabinet Trade is similarly concentrated 
in East, and the Art Metal and Instrument Trades in Central, 
London, and in both cases considerable provision for trade 
instruction is already made. 

Overtime is a further cause of trouble, even where the 
arrangement of the ordinary hours of labour is convenient, 
and leads to considerable irregularity of attendance, more 
particularly as it is not always possible to tell in advance 
when it will be necessary. The fact already noted that 
the working of overtime is not always nor altogether an evil 
further complicates the matter. Nevertheless its disadvan- 
tages usually outweigh its advantages. Moreover, the 
trouble is unusually acute in London, because the business 
of a repairing centre frequently renders rushes of work 
inevitable. This is especially true of ship-repairing, since 
the ships have often to be got ready for sea at the earliest 
possible moment. Under this and similar circumstances, 


therefore, overtime, both for men and boys, is practically 
unavoidable. This fact must be taken into account, and its 
result is not only to make attendance spasmodic, but to 
decrease the number of students. The difficulty of learning 
is increased, and the value of what is learnt diminished, and 
so some of them drop out. The trouble is further 
accentuated where the busy season, as in Silversmithing, 
falls in the autumn, winter and early spring. 

Thirdly, the ordinary hours of labour may prohibit, or 
seriously restrict, attendance, though in this respect London 
is somewhat better off than some other large cities. The 
most palpable case is that of the vanguards, who have to 
work as long as the carmen and may even put in as much as 
seventy-two hours or more in a week. Many of the errand 
boys employed in the delivery of goods are almost as badly 
off ; and in many trades work in the lower grade factories 
is continued far too late to allow of attendance at Trade 
Classes. Moreover, even where they are not too long, hours' 
are often so arranged as to render it practically impossible 
without the co-operation of employers, and though such 
co-operation is more frequently forthcoming than many 
people suppose, they are not always able or willing to 
modify them. 

The Schools are usually open from 7 till 9.30, and many 
boys cannot reach them before 7.30. Sometimes hours begin 
and end early, and this difficulty does not arise, but in several 
industries work in some shops continues till 8 or 8.30. Hence 
where boys are not free till 7.30 or later, the value of 
their school work is seriously diminished, whilst a 7 o'clock 
stoppage involves great rush and strain, even when school 
and workshop are close together. This point is not always 
grasped by employers whose works close at this hour, and 
many of them hold that in such a case a boy has ample 
opportunity to attend in his own time. Apart altogether 
from wider questions, therefore, the possibility of an 
earlier start and finish, as in the Building Trades, is worth 

It is even more important to inquire, however, whether 


the hours at present worked by the boys are such as to 
prevent them from profiting, or from profiting fully, by the 
instruction they receive. In other words, " Are they too 
tired, after an ordinary day's work, to attend an Evening 
School as well ? " 

Replies to this question are conflicting. Principals and 
Instructors are almost unanimous that too great a strain 
is imposed, and that of those boys who attend and profit 
by it a greater sacrifice is required than they should be 
called upon to make. Where, for instance, they have to 
be in the workshop from 8 till 7, and then go straight on at 
the School till 9.30, they have hardly a spare moment to 
themselves from the morning of one day till the evening of 
the next ; and this often happens not once, but several times, 
in the week. Even under these conditions, boys engaged 
in manual work often appear to be bright and lively, but 
with the more technical subjects, and at all kinds of book- 
work, many cannot keep awake, and others who can fail to 
grasp the instruction they receive. 

Many foremen, on the contrary, declare that the boys 
are not too tired after the day's work to get full value from 
what they are taught, and that the classes themselves form 
a change and relaxation after their day's employment. 
They suggest, however, that they should not continue to do 
the ordinary work of their trade, but something bearing upon 
it, which is at the same time " interesting and recreative." 
Its general principles, and the applications of science to it, 
are usually suggested, because by the light they throw on 
their daily work they will interest and instruct them at the 
same time. Many foremen will add that " they are never 
too tired to go to a music hall." 

It is necessary, moreover, to guard against exaggerating 
the amount of strain involved in a boy's work. Some 
undoubtedly are kept hard at it all day, but this is not the 
case with all. " They are not driven as hard as all that," 
one foreman said. With many, and with young boys in 
particular, much of the work is light and easy, and its faults 
in many cases lie rather in monotony and lack of interest, 


as with semi-automatic machines, or in the mere length of 
the hours. Others, such as those who wait on the men 
generally and run messages, have intervals of rest or idle- 
ness and, as one employer put it, " they are out in the air 
all day delivering messages, and they take their own time 
about it." 

Probably, therefore, where the hours are reasonable, and 
the work not too hard, a boy can attend with profit to him- 
self and the sacrifice involved is not more than sufficient 
to prove a fair test of his keenness. " The boy who is eager 
to get on will go," it is often said, or " the boy who will rise 
in life is the one who attends a Technical School." On the 
other hand, where hours are long or the work heavy, only 
the strongest and most energetic can stand the strain. 
Whilst, therefore, in the view of some the classes benefit 
by being confined to those who are keenest, and might suffer 
if attendance were to be made too easy for the less keen, 
there can be little doubt that conditions are often, though 
not always, such as to put evening instruction beyond the 
reach of a great many. 

'If, however, numerous failures to use the Schools result 
from such industrial conditions, they are frequently due 
to quite other reasons. Many boys show little interest 
in their trades outside their work in the shop, and this lack 
of interest is not confined to those who get no direct encour- 
agement from their employers, In not a few cases, indeed, 
definite offers of facilities for using a Trade School are re- 
fused, and employers have stated that they have had plenty 
of requests for leave of absence for other reasons, but never 
one for this purpose. Other boys, too, feel that they are 
learning all that is necessary in the workshop, and that 
they do not require further instruction, and many of the 
teachers insist that failure to utilize the Schools is frequently 
the result of not realizing their value rather than of any lack 
of energy or willingness. 

Trade Classes, again, have to compete, on the one hand, 
with legitimate substitutes, such as Clubs, Brigades or Boy 
Scouts. Many energetic members of the latter never put a 


foot inside an evening school. Such bodies exercise much 
valuable supervision and control and often the boys are kept 
under a considerable amount of discipline. Indeed, where 
they are not learning a skilled trade, membership of such a 
body may even be preferable to that of a school or class, 
and if it gives less of some things, it can give more of others, 
of discipline, of control and, above all, of corporate life 
and responsibility. Both are necessary parts of our social 
life, but in some cases only one of them can be utilized and 
not both. 

On the other hand, there are many counter-attractions, 
which keep boys away from the Schools, and do nothing 
to fill their place. Such things as music halls, picture 
theatres, and the various delights and attractions of the 
streets themselves, are especially numerous in London, and 
their influence, considerable in most large towns, is peculiarly 
great there. They form a great stumblingblock in the 
way of the full use of opportunities for trade teaching : 
and in small towns and country districts boys pay far greater 
attention to learning their business, because the counter- 
attractions are so much less common. ;f Two boys in the 
country," one foreman said, " will often be found talking 
together about their trades, having little else to talk about. 
In London you rarely or never find them doing so." This, 
in fact, is another of the special difficulties of town life, and 
of that of London in particular, that whilst there are far 
better facilities for obtaining instruction than elsewhere, 
other conditions reduce the will and desire to take advantage 
of them. 

These, therefore, are the chief external causes which limit 
the use of Trade or Evening Schools, and which hinder 
and cut short attendance at them, or even prevent it alto- 
gether. A further internal influence arises from a boy's 
own attitude towards work and school. When he leaves 
School, he reaches a point at which the earning of wages 
first takes a definite place in his life and learning, even in the 
case of an apprentice to a highly skilled trade, occupies at 


most only a part of his mind. 1 It is apt, indeed, to get 
thrust into the background altogether, more particularly 
with those who are doing only labourer's work. A lad's 
attitude often is that, having left school, he is finished 
with bookwork and henceforth his business is to earn wages. 
Moreover a very large number, on leaving school, enter 
temporary jobs in which they are not likely to remain, and 
not knowing their ultimate destination have little incentive 
to attend classes. For these reasons, therefore, many either 
fail to see the need of keeping up their schooling, and drop 
it entirely, or, even if they only do so temporarily till they 
find out their walk in life, they may for one reason or another 
come to do so permanently. 

One may add that the attitude of the Public School Boy 
is often much the same, with the difference that he stays 
at school some years longer. Hence at fourteen a boy, how- 
ever well he may have been taught, has not assimilated his 
knowledge as he will have done by seventeen or eighteen, and 
is far more likely to forget what he has learnt. More- 
over the occupations of the Middle Classes practically com- 
pel many of them to acquire further knowledge. For the 
reasons given, therefore, the instincts and feelings of lads 
of fourteen are naturally unfavourabte to a continuance of 
their education, and the temporary enthusiasm for Evening 
Classes, which has been aroused in many of them during 
their last few months at the Elementary School, is evanes- 
cent and quickly wears off. 

Secondly, some difficulty is also caused by the purely 
practical or " bread-and-butter " view that is taken of their 
functions. This, indeed, is inevitable, since boys of fourteen, 
or even older ones, have little chance of taking a wide view. 
So they go to a School in order to learn their business better 
and to earn higher wages, not to acquire craftsmanship for 
its own sake or the scientific principles of their trades. This, 
indeed, is only natural ; but many of them take too narrow 

1 This is true of the great majority of boys. Those who have 
engaged in street trading or who have worked out of school hours 
have already started to earn before they leave school. 


a view of what will help them to achieve their objects. A 
knowledge of general principles and of the application of 
science to their employment will assist them not only to 
learn the details, but to advance themselves to higher 
positions at their work. This, however, they fail to see. In- 
structors complain that many will only attend for purposes 
of manual instruction, and that their presence at other classes 
is only secured by making it a condition for obtaining this. 
Moreover, this attitude is naturally far more marked in the 
boy labourer than in those learning a skilled trade. The 
latter sees even less clearly the value of schooling which bears 
only indirectly on his work. When, say, a cabinet-maker 
goes to a Trade School and learns to make a better piece 
of furniture there than he makes in the workshop, the benefit 
is clear to him. The advantage which a messenger or 
general factory boy can derive may be no less great, but it 
is far less obvious. Hence for the successful extension of 
Continuation Schools a change in the mental attitude of 
parents and children is of little less importance than an 
alteration in the conditions of labour. 

In this connexion, therefore, some account must be taken 
of those and they are many who start to attend a school 
and fail to continue. 1 One satisfactory feature here is that 
the leakage of this sort, which is very great among the 
younger boys, grows appreciably less as their age increases. 
Between fourteen and fifteen, indeed, the numbers enrolled 
are much larger than in later years. But as the enrolments 
decline, there is a steady improvement in the proportions 
qualifying for grants, and from a little more than one-half 
between fourteen and fifteen, these rise to nearly three- 
quarters between eighteen and twenty-one. It is true that 
a minimum of fourteen hours during a session gives this 
qualification, but it is something that a larger percentage 
should achieve even this modicum of regularity. 

One important cause of these failures, as also of neglect 
to make any attendance at all, is as follows. Education 
Authorities, Teachers and Care Committees do much to 

1 Appendix III, 


popularize the Evening Classes, so that many boys leave the 
Elementary Schools with a real desire and intention to use 
them. Sometimes this enthusiasm is unlikely to be per- 
manent in any case, but often, if properly provided for, it 
might become a real and lasting thing. Unfortunately 
many of them are allowed to " go by default." The Even- 
ing Classes close for some months in the summer, and for the 
weeks before they do so, knowledge of this fact deters 
students from entering them. 1 As therefore boys usually 
leave school immediately after their fourteenth birthday, 
several months may elapse before any classes are available, 
and by this time they may have forgotten all about them 
or acquired new interests. This also causes considerable 
loss of students between one session and the next. 

Other influences further increase both irregularity of 
attendance and failure to continue it throughout a single 
session. Many boys fail to grasp the instruction given, 
especially that of a more technical character, and so grow 
disheartened. Sometimes the fault lies in defective Ele- 
mentary Education ; at others an interval elapses before 
they reach the evening classes, and they have forgotten 
much of what they have learnt. This difficulty the County 
Council are attempting to overcome by means of pre- 
liminary courses in Junior Institutes. Others are too tired 
to grasp the teaching, or too frequently absent from over- 
time and other causes to follow it properly when they are 

Again, it is not always possible for the classes to suit the 
requirements of all the boys ; and another and even more 
potent source of irregularity consists of their frequent 
changes of job, especially where these involve also changes 
of hours. To take one instance, a boy left school very 
keen on attending an evening class, and threw up his first 
place partly because he worked too late to do so. In his 
next position, as bookstall boy, he was for a time able to 

1 The reason for this practice is the difficulty of keeping the stu- 
dents together during the summer, and this difficulty will probably 
be overcome only by compulsion. 


get off at 6, but, being promoted, he had to stay till 8 
and abandon the class. Many also simply get tired of the 
work, and some have never had any real enthusiasm for 
it, and only go because among their friends it is " con- 
sidered rather a smart thing to do." Upon others, again, 
the importance of attending the classes has not been 
properly impressed whilst they were at the Elementary 
School. Each of these causes, therefore, inevitably leads 
some to fall out of the ranks, as difficulties arise or counter 
attractions prevail, and in the aggregate the number is 
very considerable. 

Whilst, however, attendance for a few weeks or months 
only is in itself almost valueless, it holds out some promise 
for the future. For the problem of keeping boys at school, 
once they have started to go, should be simpler than that of 
compelling or inducing them to go de novo. For it is less 
unwillingness or hostility that has to be overcome than lack 
of perseverance. So far, therefore, there is better ground- 
work on which to build a compulsory system ; and the task 
will be easier if improved opportunities are given to the 
boys in the form of shorter hours of labour or the restriction 
of overtime. In short, the Schools have reached much the 
same stage with the boys as with the employers. They 
have made some progress in creating a " habit " of attend- 
ance ; and if there is much still to do, much has already 
been done. There is already a considerable body of earnest 
and enthusiastic students, and many others are ready to 
give them a trial, even if this trial leads to nothing. This 
" habit " of attendance, too, is the more valuable because 
it means that in time such attendance will be made, as in 
some parts of Germany, as a matter of course. For this, 
however, compulsion will probably be required. Thus the 
present situation is by no means without promise. 

In conclusion may be mentioned the different changes 
that are likely to be required. From what has been said, 
various improvements in the conditions of boy labour appear 
essential. The raising of the school -leaving age to fifteen 
may be necessary for many purposes, including that of 


linking up the teaching of Elementary and Continuation 
Schools. There will also be numerous detailed alterations 
which cannot be discussed at present. But if there is 
to be compulsory attendance some reduction in hours is a 
sine qua non. The system, when established, will need to 
be carefully organized, more general education occupying 
the earlier part of the course, and a larger proportion of 
specialized training being introduced later. The period of 
compulsion will probably be one of three years, and with 
this rough outline the matter must be left for the present. 






(a) The Type of Workshop. Advantages of the Large Concern Its 

More Careful Organization of Teaching Its Disadvantages 
Over-Specialization Work taken over by Machinery Repeti- 
tion Work Want of Personal Intercourse between employer 
and learner. 

Advantages of Smaller Firms, and their disadvantages 
Those of moderate size most favourably situated Special 
Disadvantages of very small firms Good Partial Teaching in 
some cases. 

Two other Conditions of Importance : the Type of Shop 
Predominant in a trade ; Character of the Work often more 
important than actual Size of the Business. 

(b) Machinery. Forms which its influence takes Reduces range 

of skill, but leaves process a skilled one Its operation in this 
case not uniform Creation of new Semi-skilled Processes 
Substitution of Female or Juvenile labour for that of men 
Variations in its influence : London less affected in some respects 
than other places Tendency to render labour less arduous 
and in certain cases to an actual increase of Skill. 

Reduced Demand for labour for a given output Usually 
compensated by increased demand in the same or some other 
trade Circumstances peculiarly unfavourable to London 
Influence of Machinery in particular industries. 

(c) The Provincial Infiux Common to all large cities Reasons for 

it Presence of able men with ambitions How they reach 
London Superior energy and application claimed for them 
The Pick of the Provinces competes with the Average of Lon- 
don Influx of labourers : its results Industrial and Social 
Advantages of provincial workmen Better Health Fewer 
Counter-Attractions Smaller Size of normal firm Position 
of small firms in London London Methods of Training often 
inferior Greater Expense of teaching there Employers' 
Reliance on the Influx. 



Trade Distribution of the Influx Greatest where both its 
main causes are in operation Small : Printing, Bookbinding, 
Art Metal Work Intermediate Position of Engineering and 
the Leather Trades Large, with some exceptions, in Building, 
Wood -working and Furniture Industries Information sup- 
ported by Proportions of Foremen in these trades who are or 
are not Londoners Influx not limited to special areas. 

Its Causes Some Irremovable Others remediable Means 
of effecting improvement Summary and Conclusion. 

THE question of Recruiting, or of the sources from which 
employers get their boys, is closely allied with that of 
training, and is specially important in London, because her 
employers obtain a greater supply of labour from outside 
her boundaries than do those of other large towns. This is 
partly due to natural causes, such as the desire of the better 
workmen in the country to improve their position, partly 
to the general conditions prevailing in London and the 
methods of production adopted there, and partly to more 
or less remediable defects in its system of teaching. In 
relation to these latter, however, two other questions have 
to be considered, the position in connexion with Industrial 
training of large and small shops, and the influence exerted 
upon it by the increasing use of machinery. The chances 
of the London boy are affected by both, and they need to 
be considered if the problems associated with the provincial 
influx are to be fully understood. 

(a) The Type of Workshop. Uninformed opinion often 
favours the large firm for the purpose of teaching a trade, 
but many experts prefer one of small or moderate size. The 
value of each of them varies from industry to industry, 
and often it is less the size of a shop, than the character of 
its business, that is important. The large concern possesses 
numerous advantages. Usually, though not always, it 
obtains work of a finer quality, of greater variety, and of 
a more important nature, whereas a smaller one may only 
get a succession of odd jobs. It can afford to employ the 
best foremen and the most experienced men. Moreover 
employment, at least so far as the boys are concerned, is often 
more regular ; they are more likely to be kept on during 


slack seasons ; and they are, as a rule, more highly paid. 

Lastly, the teaching itself is more generally organized 
upon some definite plan. The number of learners and 
the conditions of their work are more systematically 
arranged and fewer boys are employed casually and dismissed 
at a moment's notice. Large firms, therefore, have many 
merits, and sometimes it is only in them that a lad can learn 
the finer branches of his business, so that he may have to 
spend at least part of his time in one of them. 

These merits, however, are frequently offset by serious 
disadvantages. The first arises from the specialization 
of processes and the division of the trade into a number of 
branches. The large Engineering shop, for instance, has 
separate classes of erectors, fitters and turners, and the large 
Builder of joiners and carpenters. Hence their organization 
often renders it necessary for the learner to confine himself 
to one of these, and at this he becomes very expert. In 
London, moreover, the number of firms which require skill 
of this character is often small, and thus a lad who has been 
taught in one of them is at a disadvantage in competition 
with those who have received a more all-round training in a 
smaller firm. Secondly, without specialization being carried 
so far as this, parts of a trade may be taken over by 
machinery. Now if these are the rougher and simpler ones, the 
boy may be deprived of just that sort of work upon which 
he can most easily start to learn. Or some of the more 
difficult and important processes may never come his way, 
so that, without being exactly specialized, his knowledge 
is not complete, and will not be completed, unless he takes 
steps specially to remedy this by attendance at a Trade 
School or by other means. 

Again, whilst getting great variety in many ways, a big 
firm, working on large orders, often has much repetition 
work, the same job having to be repeated over and over 
again. Hence the learner does not obtain sufficient variety, 
nor as much as he will do in many smaller ones, whilst 
in repair shops and in those working on retail orders 
this variety is almost infinite. At the same time, this is 


not true of all large firms, and important instances, pointing 
in the opposite direction, can be quoted. Nevertheless, 
taken as a whole, and especially when producing for a whole- 
sale market, they do get a considerable amount of repetition. 

Finally, in the biggest concerns close personal relations 
between employer and learner are far more difficult to secure. 
The former is mainly occupied with the commercial side 
of the business and spends his time in the office, and not in 
the workshop. Frequently he is " not a practical man " and 
so cannot himself teach. At best he can only exercise a 
general supervision, and the boy has to be put in charge of 
a foreman or be by him delegated to the care of a man. 
Moreover, in these conditions, it may be difficult for a fore- 
man to find sufficient time to teach the apprentices, though 
this is not common. Some, however, " won't be troubled " 
and others are unduly nervous of spoilt work and are apt 
to keep the boys back ; or, again, the lad may not be put into 
the charge of any one in particular, and what is every man's 
business is no man's business and so no one takes special 
care of him. 

Above all, the tie of a close personal intercourse is almost 
necessarily lacking. It is not that the larger employers 
fail to take an interest in their boys. Indeed, many big 
firms take a pride in turning them out well. But the 
smaller master constantly sees and supervises, and may 
even work with, those he has ; and from continuous associa- 
tion acquires a personal interest in them and in pushing 
them on ; and this is most valuable when it is thus 
acquired. For the interest that is practically a habit is of 
more value than that which is merely a virtue ; and so that 
which is taken by the small man may produce better results 
because it is necessarily greater and more persistent. 

The advantages possessed by shops of small or mod- 
erate size may now be considered. First, provided that 
they get sufficient work, they often give a more general 
all-round training, since in them division and specialization 
of labour cannot be carried so far. Many also get considerable 
variety and have less repetition work, so that a boy has 


to be put to all kinds of jobs and be ready to turn his hand 
to everything. Usually there is less elaborate machinery, 
and the proportion that is done by hand is greater. In the 
wood- working trades, however, some small hand-shops are 
such only in name, for they buy all their parts already cut 
and do little more than fit them together. The boy's more 
intimate relations with his employer in a small firm have 
already been touched upon. 

As with large ones, there is a balance of advantage and 
disadvantage, and it is not every business that enjoys all 
of these benefits. Here the conditions in the small, and 
especially in the very small, shops are different from those 
prevailing in firms of moderate size. Many of the former 
do not get much good work or are engaged on making cheap, 
common stuff, the learning of which is of little value. Some 
can give no more than a general grounding in the trade which 
can be followed up elsewhere. Others do not even do this. 
A^ain, some of them are as highly specialized as any large 
business. Indeed specialization of product or output is 
often most common where small masters are most numer- 
ous, as, for instance, in the wholesale Furniture Trade. Fre- 
quently only a very few articles ever come into the shop at 
all, though one such firm will teach more than another. Thus 
if it is engaged upon one elaborate article, a boy may learn 
a large part of the work. If not he may barely acquire 
its rudiments. Further, if, as some do, it subsists mainly 
on small odd jobs, it may never be able to give him any pro- 
per idea of the trade as a whole, and to such a one what has 
been said about larger repair work does not apply. 

Moreover some small employers either lack ability as teach- 
ers or are themselves incompetent workmen. In a large firm 
such capacity in the employer is not so essential, for it can 
afford to engage competent foremen and men, some of 
whom are almost certain to be able to teach. The small 
man, on the other hand, having only a few employes, has 
much less chance of finding such a one, especially if he is 
engaged on cheap second-class work, when they are probably 
inferior workmen. At the same time, many small shops 


do teach a trade exceedingly well, though whether they can 
do so or not will often depend upon the personal abilities 
of the " guv'nor." 

Finally, certain abuses are specially prevalent among the 
smallest firms, such as the practice of the " premium- 
hunter," who, without proper means or capacity to teach, 
takes a succession of apprentices for the sake of the money 
to be obtained with them. Others take several boys, 
nominally as apprentices, with only one or two men, and 
they divide up the work among them and use them practi- 
cally as labourers. Or, again, a lad engaged on certain 
rough work, such as filing-up, may, in order to induce 
him to stay, be led to understand that he will be taught 
and then turned adrift, knowing nothing, after three or 
four years. 

These defects are far more marked in the smallest shops 
than in those of medium size or in the moderately small 
ones, and many of these are also free to a great extent from 
the worst features of the larger firms. They may thus 
combine most of the good, and escape most of the bad, 
characteristics of either, and so are in the best position to 
satisfy all the requirements of good teaching. Compared 
with these others, their work is usually both good and 
varied, and sufficiently regular to give continuous employ- 
ment. They are less specialized than the large businesses, 
and do more of their work by hand. They are of sufficient 
size to ensure proper facilities for training and yet not too 
big to allow of a close contact between employer and appren- 
tice. Thus the best shop for learning a trade will, as a rule, 
be one that is neither very large nor very small. 

Some small shops, however, which cannot teach a trade 
throughout, may yet be able to give an admirable grounding 
in it. Small plumbing firms are specially useful in this way 
to fill up the time till a boy is strong enough to stand the 
heavier work ; and elsewhere those which make parts and 
accessories may give him a good start by teaching him to 
handle easy tools and machines. At the other end of the 
scale, large shops doing only finer and more intricate work 


may be excellent to finish in, whilst lacking what is required 
in the earlier years of training. 

For such businesses, therefore, special provision is required. 
Evening Trade Schools may help to fill the gaps by assisting 
a boy to learn those kinds of work he does not get in the day 
time. Even better, however, is the policy of starting in a 
small shop to obtain a general idea of the trade and going on 
afterwards to complete the teaching and learn the finer 
qualities in a large one. To some extent this is already done 
and with proper organization the practice could be con- 
siderably extended, and so would meet the needs of a good 
many boys, which under present circumstances are not 
fully provided for. 

In conclusion two points are worth noting. First, much 
will depend on the type of shop which is predominant 
throughout a trade. Where work is mainly carried out by 
businesses of large or moderate size, these get most of the 
better work, and the little firms subsist mainly on small 
orders, repairs and odd jobs. Hence they are apt to lose 
some of their advantages and consequently of the value of 
their teaching. Where, however, as in the Art Metal Trades, 
a smaller type of concern is usual, they obtain their fair 
share of all kinds. So, too, in some of the smaller towns, 
the scale of production is never very large nor is any single 
firm very big, and here again the different qualities of work 
are well distributed. 

Secondly, the character of the work is often of more 
importance than the size of a business, so that usually one 
engaged upon a general trade or upon repairs of a good class 
is best able to teach. Such businesses, indeed, are frequently 
large, as in the case of Ship-Repairing in Millwall, and of 
the large West End Furnishing houses employed upon 
retail orders of a high quality Again, in Printing the least 
suitable Offices are those, whether large or small, which 
only do plain book setting, and the best those which do 
book, jobbing, and display work. In this case quality is, 
as a rule, the deciding factor, and here the bigger firms often 
have a distinct advantage The size of an establishment, 


therefore, is not the only influence, but it is an important 
and frequently a decisive one. With some exceptions, 
indeed, the shop of moderate size offers the best opening 
for training, and the two extremes large or small the 
least good, and London's position in this respect will be 
shown later to have some bearing upon the provincial influx. 

(b) Machinery. Another important element in the pro- 
blem consists of the continuous introduction of fresh labour- 
saving Machinery, which affects the worker in various ways. 
Its influence has already been considered in other con- 
nexions, but the matter is sufficiently important to justify 
its separate treatment here, even at the cost of repetition. 
First, machines takeover parts of the work, being operated 
either by an existing class of workmen such as the wood- 
working machinists or by a new class such as the silver- 
spinners ; whilst the old handworkers receive their material 
in a more finished state than formerly, or do not have so 
many processes to perform upon it. In a few cases they 
even operate the new machines, as the compositors do the 
Linotype or as sometimes happens in the Bespoke Boot 
Trade. In such cases, therefore, the number of men re- 
quired to produce a given output is reduced, but they retain 
their position as skilled mechanics. Their range of work, 
indeed, is smaller, but this more often means a concentration 
of skill and not a loss ; for while they have to do less than 
formerly, they are required to do it better, more rapidly 
and with a finer finish. 

The position is still further complicated by the fact that 
in many London industries the introduction or develop- 
ment of machinery is by no means uniform. Hence the 
man who has learnt his trade in a machine-shop is often at 
a disadvantage in competition with those who have done 
so in hand-shops. Where wood is elaborately prepared 
in a sawmill, for instance, the joiner has never learnt to cut 
and prepare it in the way that many others have had to do, 
and thus is in some ways a less dexterous and experienced 
workman. In his own particular sphere he may possess 
greater skill, speed and accuracy, but for the more all-round 


workmen from the hand-shop to acquire these is often only 
a matter of time. Again, the taking over of much of the 
easier work by machines may actually render a trade more 
difficult to acquire than heretofore. 

Secondly, machine production may alter the character, 
or grades, of the labour required. Processes forming one 
skilled craft may be split up into a number of different jobs, 
and the artisan be replaced by the semi-skilled machine- 
minder. Thus in the factories, a boot is no longer made 
by a single man but is divided up into parts, and each part 
into a number of processes. The more important are per- 
formed by men, the less by women, boys or girls : but each 
worker sticks to his or her own. Most of the work is semi- 
skilled, though some of the men earn high wages. A similar 
development has taken place in Publishers' Bookbinding, 
and in large Engineering shops there are growing numbers 
who work each a single machine, and most of whom earn 
wages about midway between those of a mechanic and 
those of a labourer. In Engineering and Bootmaking, 
indeed, specialization is less common in London than else- 
where and has not been carried so far, but it has been 
carried further in Bookbinding. 

Thirdly, male adult workers are sometimes completely 
displaced by boys, women or girls. In the boot trade, as 
mentioned in the last paragraph, all four classes are found 
working together. In brushmaking the process of boring 
is done almost entirely by girls, In the cheaper forms of 
tinsmithing and silversmithing boys are employed to 
" stamp out " the parts and a few skilled solderers to fit 
them together. In most trades, again, semi-automatic 
machines are usually worked by boys. These changes also 
have been further developed in other places than they have 
in London. 

Indeed, the influence of machinery generally varies from 
place to place, and this in turn affects the character of the 
provincial influx. It is little developed in country towns 
and villages, and those brought up in them possess the 
advantages that are associated with handwork, so that, 


compared with them, Londoners, and those brought up in 
any large town, are usually at a disadvantage. London 
is most affected by changes of the first class, since the sub- 
stitution for the artisan of other kinds or grades of labour 
has not as a rule been carried so far there ; and in these 
respects it is on the whole in a better position than other 
large centres, notably in tinplate work and silversmithing, 
and, to some extent, in engineering. Sometimes, on the other 
hand, the fact that only a few firms have fully developed 
this subdivision has created a special problem ; but as a 
rule the London workman is in this respect comparatively 
well placed. 

Allowance must be made, however, for the benefits which 
an extended use of machinery confers on the workmen. It 
has taken over much of the heaviest, hardest and most 
monotonous work, 1 and in some cases has substituted a 
higher for a lower grade of labour. On large buildings, or 
where travelling cranes are used, the semi-skilled craneman 
has replaced the unskilled hodman, porter or docker. The 
compositor operating the Linotype is a more skilled man 
than he was before it was introduced ; and the excessive 
amount of boy labour required in certain trades has been 
reduced by mechanical improvements. Thus in the rivet ting 
of boilers only one boy is needed when hydraulic blasts 
are used, instead of two when they are not. 

To sum up, therefore, the effects of developments of 

1 Compare the evidence of Mr. F. A. Moore, a Builder's Foreman, 
before the Labour Commission (March 15, 1892 ; questions 18,828 
and 18,829). 

" Have you formed any opinion as to the value or otherwise of 
machinery in connexion with your trade ? " " I certainly think 
that machinery is a capital thing from every point of view that I 
can conceive, both from the point of view of the employer and from 
that of the workman." 

" It prevents a workman from being a mere beast of burden and 
makes him a more intelligent and useful man ?" "Undoubtedly 
it relieves him of all the mechanical drudgery. I can distinctly remem- 
ber, when I was a youth learning my trade, having to ' stick mould- 
ings,' as it is known in the trade. Anyone who knows the thing 
practically knows that that is a tremendously heavy physical labour. 
The thing is perfectly unknown at the present day." 

A A 


machine production are as follows. Sometimes it merely 
alters the character of the skill required, usually by concen- 
trating it within a narrower range, but raising its level. 
Sometimes it reduces its amount, whilst still leaving the 
trade a skilled one. At others it replaces the mechanic 
by the semi-skilled man or by female and juvenile labour. 
Less frequently it substitutes a higher for a lower grade of 

Lastly, it decreases in the trades concerned the total 
amount of labour required to accomplish a given output, but 
for this there are many compensations. It directly increases 
employment in other directions, notably in machine making 
and in the manufacture of iron and steel. Coal Miners 
again benefit from the greater demand for coal which is 
required for running the machinery and an increasing 
number of engineers are needed to keep it in repair. 

Normally, however, the output of the trade affected 
does not remain the same as before. The lower cost of 
production increases demand, usually to such an extent 
as ultimately to offset or more than offset the economy of 
labour due to improvements. Indeed, in some cases their 
introduction is rendered necessary in order to cope with a 
growing demand, whilst without it some articles could not 
have been put on the market at a price within reach of the 
great bulk of the consumers. In fact, it is only where the 
demand is very inelastic that it does not show at least 
some considerable increase. 

Taking everything into consideration, therefore, develop- 
ments of machine production tend to an expansion rather 
than a contraction of the demand for labour. But for 
the time being its results are often bad. A temporary 
decrease until the greater cheapness has had time to take 
effect may cause displacement or prolonged unemployment. 
Occasionally, too, there is a permanent decline in the number 
of artisans in a particular trade, especially where semi- 
skilled men, women or boys are substituted for them, for 
even where they can acquire the new processes of working 
the change means necessarily a serious decrease in their 


earnings. Moreover, London sometimes gets the disad- 
vantages and few of the benefits of these developments. It 
bears such loss as there is, whilst the increased production 
of machinery and coal is carried out in other districts. 

Their extent and character varies from trade to trade, 
and those of Building, Woodworking and Furniture are 
perhaps the most affected, whilst those of their branches 
which are not so influenced suffer in other ways. Thus 
iron and lead pipings are produced in more elaborate forms, 
and this leaves a smaller amount of jointing to be done by 
the plumbers. The substitution of electric light for gas 
has decreased the amount of internal painting, and ferro- 
concrete has seriously affected bricklayers. 

On the other hand, the Engineering Trades in London 
mainly require all-round men for the reasons already given. 
Stamping-out of the cheaper work is very common among 
silversmiths and metal-plate workers ; and the use of the 
spinning lathe has created a new class of silver-spinners. 
In the Art Metal Trades as a whole, however, much of the 
work is done throughout by hand, and the makers of Optical 
and Scientific Instruments have suffered little reduction 
in skill. In the Printing Trades, again, the linotype has, 
if anything, increased that of the compositor, and the use 
of more and more elaborate machinery, coupled with the 
enforcement of the Apprenticeship system, appears to have 
done the same for the machine managers. In the opposite 
direction the division of Publishers' Bookbinding and of 
the wholesale boot trade into a number of semi-skilled pro- 
cesses has already been described. The manufacture of the 
lighter leathers has been similarly reorganized. Glazing and 
finishing have in nearly all cases become semi-skilled machine 
processes. At machine splitting high wages can be earned, 
but fleshing and currying are almost the only skilled hand 
processes, and the latter is feeling the competition of leather- 
shaving machinery. 

The influence of machinery, therefore, is varied. Sometimes 
it increases the skill of the worker and sometimes it decreases 
it, and not seldom it simply alters its character. On the 


other hand, numerous processes have been taken over by an 
entirely new class of workers. The phenomenon is not 
peculiar to London, which is affected more in some trades 
and less in others than other places are ; and all these facts 
have an important bearing upon the influx of provincial 

(c) The Provincial Influx. The problems created by the 
migration into a place of labour which has been trained 
elsewhere are common to all large towns, and not peculiar 
to London, though perhaps felt most keenly by it. Where 
a town has one or two localized industries, this influx is 
less extensive, and such are usually recruited mainly from 
their immediate neighbourhood. Instances of them are the 
Pianoforte, the Art Metal and, above all, the Cotton, Trades. 
Thus the big commercial centres, like Manchester, or those 
with numerous industries of a moderate size, most nearly 
resemble London in this respect, and it is in trades like 
Building, which are found in every town and in almost 
every village, that the big cities obtain from outside the 
largest proportion of their labour. 

The reasons for the influx are much the same everywhere. 
The abler and more ambitious workmen go where wages are 
highest and the chances of rising greatest, and whilst higher 
cost of living may reduce the real benefit of the former, it 
is probably the latter that means most to the ambitious 
man. And London obtains a peculiarly large supply be- 
cause of the ideas that are prevalent as to its wealth and 
opportunities. Again, at the other end of the scale its 
relief organizations and openings for casual employment 
attract a lower class of men, but other towns with large 
docks, such as Liverpool, are also affected in this way. 

Most of the outside labour that enters London, however, 
comes from the higher, rather than from the low r er, grades, 
and this is the first cause of the displacement of the Londoner. 
Those who come in are mainly of a superior quality. I do 
not mean that labour as a whole is necessarily more com- 
petent outside London, but that usually the better and more 
energetic men from each district come to it, in order to make 


the best of themselves. Thus in the words of a foreman 
stonemason : " I learnt my trade in the quarries in Cumber- 
land, but did not stay more than a few weeks there after I 
was out of my time. I knew my value, and I was not going 
to stay there, getting $%d. per hour when I could get 9^. 
in London." Some of those who come are young married 
men, and they in their turn put their children into good 
positions. Hence, with some exceptions, it is the pick of the 
provincial workmen who are competing with the average of 
those of London. 

They come to London in various ways, some of their own 
accord, though usually they have a place awaiting them, 
which has been obtained through relatives or friends who 
have preceded them. Secondly, employers and foremen 
not seldom lay themselves out to fill vacancies in this way 
and can generally find somebody among their workmen who 
knows the sort of man they want. Thus in the Build- 
ing Trade boom (1895-1900) actual shortage was rarely 
experienced because " there were always men coming in 
from the country." Finally, provincial firms obtaining 
London contracts bring up men to assist in carrying out the 
work. These are, as a rule, their best hands, and some of 
them stay on permanently in London after the particular 
job is finished. 

Those who come, therefore, are usually above the average 
in ability, and for this reason are sought after by London 
employers, whether as fully-trained men or as improvers. 
Sometimes they are also superior in energy, application 
and knowledge of their business. Thus a foreman engineer 
said, " In the North they do not work in collars, and they 
look in every way more workmanlike. I used to be asked 
when I first came to London if I was accustomed to working 
with wild beasts. In the North the men and even the 
women took a far greater interest in Engineering and had a 
far greater knowledge of it than the men have in London. 
I sometimes tell them, ' My mother knew more about 
engineering than what you do.' ' 

The provincial workman, therefore, has an initial advan- 


tage, and this is increased by the superior training that 
he often gets. The stress falls mainly on those of average 
ability or less, but is also felt by the more capable, more 
particularly where London methods of teaching are not 
good. Many of the ablest London boys, however, enter the 
commercial and clerical employments in which it abounds. 

The influx, moreover, includes labourers as well as arti- 
sans, whom lack of opportunity in their homes, and, until 
quite recently, agricultural depression have driven to 
London. Usually of a higher social standing than the town 
labourer and with their intelligence sharpened by country 
life, they look for something better than a labourer's job and 
recruit those skilled trades into which entry is most easy 
for them. Thus experience of rough stone work, for instance, 
helps them to make a start in the easier kinds of bricklaying, 
an employment in which few London boys are engaged. 

Further, it is sometimes argued that the men who come 
from smaller towns and districts, apart from the proportion 
of abler men among them, have all certain advantages over 
the Londoner. Their conditions of life render them stronger 
and healthier. Intellectually the latter may be sharper 
and quicker ; but the variety of wood and field, of bird and 
animal life, develops better the countryman's powers of 
observation, whilst those of the Londoner are stunted by 
the monotony of bricks and mortar. So whilst he may 
pick up individual things more quickly, his country rival 
has learnt to observe more deeply and therefore grasps better 
the whole idea of a trade. 

Again, the pleasures and excitements of town life often 
unduly distract a boy's thoughts from his work, whilst 
in the country this is often his chief interest. " In the 
country," said a foreman who had learnt his business there, 
" you often see two boys together talking about their 
trades in London never." And this disadvantage, common 
to a great extent to all large towns, is not altogether com- 
pensated for by the fuller provision for technical instruction 
which most of them possess. Much of the influx, therefore, 
is not only inevitable, but such as it would be impolitic 


to try to stop ; and the presence of a body of picked men 
from outside must be accepted. At the same time other 
disadvantages in this competition from which the London 
workman suffers can to a great extent be removed or 
mitigated. In creating them three influences are specially 
noticeable, namely, the organization of production, educa- 
tional methods, and the expense involved in teaching boys. 

As described in previous sections of this chapter, shops of 
moderate, or of moderately small, size are usually best suited 
for teaching a trade. The large machine shops, on the other 
hand, give and require less all-round skill, but a higher level 
of it concentrated within a narrower range. The best to 
learn in, therefore, is one that is small enough to do a great 
deal by hand and for the employer to be in close touch with 
his boys, and large enough to get good and varied orders. 
For in it the lad has of necessity to be put to all kinds of 
work and an all-round training is practically ensured. 

Now in small towns from which, as a rule, the influx 
mainly, this is the normal type of business. The 
scale of production is generally small so that these firms 
get the best work, whilst, when they are working among 
a number of large ones, they often fail to do so. In London, 
on the contrary, production is often on a large scale, much 
machinery is used and, even where it is not, processes and 
output are specialized. The big firms get most of the best 
work and the smaller ones fail to obtain their share of it. 
Thus frequently only a small proportion of them are well 
situated in every way for the purposes of teaching. In a 
few trades, indeed, like Printing and the West End Furniture 
trade, London has an advantage over other places, but nor- 
mally methods of production make the giving of an all-round 
training difficult. 

Secondly, in smaller places training is often more regular 
and systematic because things lend themselves more easily 
to definite conditions of service. A boy has less opportunity 
to drift from firm to firm, since after a few dismissals he 
acquires a bad character, whilst in London he may lose 
place after place and yet obtain others without difficulty. 


Apart from this, moreover, the good results obtained in 
smaller towns are often attributed to the survival of formal 
Apprenticeship, which is still common in many of them, 
particularly in Scotland. 

This contention is both right and wrong. The advantage 
of the small town lies less in the actual Apprenticeship than 
in the definite and systematic methods of teaching of which 
it is the outward and visible sign. In London trouble 
arises from a combination of causes the wage-contract, 
uncontrolled migration, drifting from job to job, and so 
on or, in other words, from absence of system. Many 
individuals are well taught, but there is no regular and 
careful control over all of them. Often they regard them- 
selves as wage-earners rather than learners and so their 
training suffers still more. The disadvantage of London, 
therefore, lies less in the decline of a particular kind of 
method than in the absence of definite method of any kind, 
and it is further increased by the legacy of past neglect. 

Thirdly, considerable expense is often involved in teaching 
a trade, and it is the best firms who are most affected in this 
way. High rents and rates render bench room costly and 
valuable, and apprentices or learners who are producing 
little displace the skilled mechanic, whilst in London they can 
command a comparatively high rate of wage. When 
there is plenty of simple work available to which they can 
be put for the first year or two, their employment is still 
profitable. But in many trades this is now done, by 
machinery, and so they are a cause of expense rather than of 
profit and are " more trouble than they are worth." 
Employers as a rule " want men, not boys," and can usually 
get them. So few are taken as definite learners and the 
rest have to pick up a trade as best they can. 

Together, therefore, these causes combine to render 
London employers more or less averse to the engagement 
of boys for the purpose of training them. Instead, they 
have come to a great extent to rely upon and to prefer 
the provincial supply of labour. Indeed, just in the propor- 
tion that Londoners are difficult to teach and control, have 


they been led to organize and develop it. Moreover, this 
supply is likely in any case to be large. Not only do men 
of ability and ambition tend to reach London, but in some 
country towns more boys are taken into certain industries 
than can be provided for locally. For instance, lack of good 
openings in agriculture may cause too many to enter the 
Building and Furniture Trades in their neighbourhood, so 
that when they grow up some of them have to find employ- 
ment elsewhere and usually go to a large town and particu- 
larly to London. The result is therefore that in many cases 
the employers actually find awaiting them an ample supply 
of the labour which they require. 

The effect of the influx on individual trades may next be 
considered. It is found in almost every one, but in some 
far more than in others, according to whether both its 
main causes are in operation or only the first. Where 
methods of training do not put the Londoner at a disadvan- 
tage, the influx of ambitious or restless men is less marked, 
and they do not obtain so large a share of the better positions. 
Where the training is less good, the influx is greater, and 
often much greater. It is likely also to be larger where the 
trade is practised everywhere, less large where it is localized 
or confined to the bigger towns. 

In Printing the training given in London is about the 
best available, and conditions generally favour the employ- 
ment of apprentices. The refusal to allow them in News- 
paper Offices guards against the most dangerous form 
of specialization. Businesses doing jobbing and display 
work get a good variety of it, and the bigger London Offices 
get on the whole finer and more educative work than their 
provincial rivals. Care is also taken to teach boys thoroughly 
and to put them through all departments. Moreover, 
apprentices have to get full money as soon as they are out 
of their time, so that the boy from outside has not the same 
chance as in other trades of completing his education as an 
improver. The machine manager is even better off than the 
compositor owing to the elaborate and intricate machinery 
that is used ; and the subsidiary branches are little 


recruited from outside London. The same is true of some 
other industries. There are comparatively few provincially 
trained workmen among optical and scientific instrument 
makers. In the skilled processes of brushmaking better 
work and better teaching give the Londoner an advantage, 
and the high quality of London Saddlery excludes provincials 
from many parts of the trade. 

Bookbinding, again, gets comparatively little of its labour 
from outside. The better class work is a separate branch 
here, and its quality confines it to Londoners. In jobbing, 
however, they have at most but a slight advantage, and it is 
in this that such influx as there is mainly takes place. 
Publishers' Bookbinding is semi-skilled work and does not 
offer any attraction to the abler men. Again, in the boot 
trade, with the high quality of the Bespoke work and the 
specialized factory industry, the position is much the same. 

In metal-plate and art metal work, machine production 
has not been adopted to the same extent in London as in 
some other important centres ; there has been much less 
substitution of juvenile for adult labour, and handwork 
has held its own far more completely. The process of 
stamping-out parts in tinplate work is confined to a few 
large firms, whilst in the art metal trades the chief trouble 
arises from the large number of shops with a highly 
specialized output. London, indeed, seems to get a larger 
share of the better class handwork than its rivals do. 
Similarly much brass-finishing in other places consists of the 
production of cheap articles, which is usually carried on 
by unskilled juvenile workers. In London it is mainly 
engineers' work of high quality and of varied character and 
requires skilled men, though even so there is a certain amount 
of low-skilled labour. In all these cases, however, whilst the 
provincial is hardly capable of competing directly with 
trained Londoners, complaint is made that London firms 
are undersold by the cheaper goods produced elsewhere. 

The Engineering Trades themselves may now be con- 
sidered. Their work in London consists largely of repairs 
or renewals, many of them large and important ones, and of 


small varying orders, and hence it is to a great extent 
unspecialized. So the all-round fitter and turner is common, 
and men who are specialized on single machines are not 
numerous, except in a few large shops, whilst some little 
firms get chiefly such a succession of small odd jobs 
as does not give sufficient insight into the trade as a whole. 
London, therefore, requires a special class of workmen 
different from that needed in big constructional centres : 
and this fact limits the influx from outside. 

It is nevertheless considerable. In part it consists of 
men from small towns or from the numerous small firms 
in the big ones, whilst sea-going engineers often get tem- 
porary work in London in the intervals between voyages. 
Finally, the large amount and important character of the 
work done in the larger centres sometimes enables the work- 
people to obtain a greater general knowledge of the. trade 
and its principles and of the applications of science to it 
than is within reach of those whose work is mainly repairs ; 
and this fact has to be set against the advantages which 
the Londoner enjoys in other directions. 

So far, therefore, the influx has usually been small, only 
occasionally considerable, and never preponderating, and 
this is true also of the Leather Trade, in which there is some 
interchange of labour between London and other places. 
Elsewhere matters are very different, more particularly in 
the Building, and Woodworking and Furniture, Industries, 
in which specialization, machine production, haphazard 
methods of engagement and teaching, and the expense 
involved have had a far greater effect. Hence, whilst 
exact returns as to how many of their men have learnt the 
trade elsewhere cannot be obtained, the number is un- 
doubtedly considerable and the learners employed by London 
firms are proportionally few. 

Joiners, cabinet makers and woodworkers of all kinds 
appear to be most affected. The chief exception is the 
Pianoforte Trade, which is practically self-supporting. 
A considerable numberof boys are also found in the wholesale 
cabinet trade, but few in the better-class retail work, in 


joinery or in coach and van building. In other branches, 
also, the influx is appreciable. The quarrying districts, in 
some of which excessive numbers of boys appear to be em- 
ployed, send many masons to London. Even fewer London 
boys learn bricklaying. In painting the lower grades of 
workmen are mostly of local production, but only a few 
of the more highly skilled decorators learn their business 
here. Finally in upholstery there is much specialization of 
output, and once again the better firms mainly recruit their 
labour from elsewhere. 

Plumbing and plastering are exceptions to this general 
tendency, and in both the number of young workmen 
employed shows that the influx, even if considerable, is not 
very great. On the whole, the training given in them is less 
good in provincial than in London firms. In plumbing, the 
larger and heavier piping, that is found chiefly on the bigger 
buildings, provides the better work and in the number of 
large contracts London has a decided advantage. Little 
of the finer ornamental plastering is done in country shops. 
So the countryman seldom sees some of the best qualities 
of work and in plumbing London methods of teaching 
appear to be more regular than in other branches of the 
Building Trades. Hence the provincially trained workman 
is less sought after, at any rate in the best shops. 

Thus the influx obviously varies with different industries. 
Large-scale and machine production often make it difficult 
to get all-round knowledge in a single firm. Irregular 
methods of learning and the absence of permanent engage- 
ment also have important effects. Where, therefore, all 
these causes are in operation at once, the immigration is very 
great, the more so as they cause employers to depend more 
and more on the outside supply. Where, however, they 
are not, it is much less, though the high average capacity of 
the provincial workmen ensures their presence to some extent 
in practically every trade. For even when the London 
training is better, this still enables them to make their way 
and establish themselves in a secure position. 

These conclusions are supported by the evidence available 


concerning the question as to whether the higher posts in 
London are filled mainly by men from other places. This 
point I attempted to verify and found that where there was 
a large influx, many, perhaps most, of the foremen had not 
learnt their business in London. This was most marked 
in Building and in the better class Furniture Trades, in 
which those who were Londoners had usually had some 
special opportunities, such as being themselves the sons of 
foremen. Where, however, the influx was not great, these 
conditions were reversed, and in Printing, and, to a lesser 
degree, in Engineering and Boilermaking, in the manu- 
facture of Leather and in some smaller trades, foremen's 
jobs and similar posts were mostly filled by men who are 
Londoners both by birth and training. 

The sources of the influx are not, as a rule, confined to 
any special area, and it is determined far more by the size 
and industrial character of towns and districts than by 
their situation. There are some exceptions. Masons come 
largely from the neighbourhoods of the quarries, engineers, 
for the special reasons already given, from big construc- 
tional centres in the North, and joiners from Scotland and 
the West of England. But usually the supply is provided 
mainly by small towns and country districts and not to any 
great extent by the big cities. These often have a similar, 
though smaller, immigration of their own and their workmen 
have less to gain by the move. A good many, moreover, 
naturally come in from the Home Counties, and apart from 
them those districts, which possess few large towns and 
numerous small ones, are likely to send the largest 

Finally, this influx is partly inevitable and partly due to 
remediable causes. So far as it is due to the presence of 
abler men from elsewhere, it would be unwise and probably 
impossible to prevent it : and to this extent it is on the 
whole beneficial. No improvement in teaching can get 
rid of it, and the best men of another place have necessarily 
some advantage in competition with the average Londoner. 
To prohibit them, therefore, from utilizing the oppor- 


tunities which London offers is a policy that could hardly be 
defended seriously. But apart from this, everything possible 
must be done to give the Londoner chances equal to those 
enjoyed by his rivals. For the latter often have advantages 
over men of equal or greater abilities, and these can be 
reduced or even in time removed. 

The preventable disadvantages under which the London 
boy labours have alread}^ been classified under the three 
headings of organization, method and expense. First, 
shops which give a good all-round training may lack quality 
and variety of work, and big shops may from no fault of 
their own find numerous difficulties in their way, particularly 
in teaching the simpler rudiments of a trade. Thus each 
class of business is often well fitted to do a part of what is 
required, but not the whole. Here two remedies are 
available. First, the Trade Schools can help to provide 
what the workshop cannot, " giving an insight " into the 
work that is taken over by machinery in large shops or in 
other cases helping a boy to learn the better qualities. 
vSecondly, where the smaller shops can teach the rudiments 
but not the finer work, and the large ones the finer work but 
not the rudiments, employment in each in turn could be 
provided for, first for three or four years in a small firm and 
then for a further period after transference to a larger one. 
To some extent this is done already and the difficulties of 
extending it are not insuperable. Indeed, the practice 
might in time grow into an organized system of Short 
Apprenticeships followed by Migration. 

Defective methods of teaching present even more obvious 
opportunities for improvement, and here perhaps the greatest 
need is for systematic care and control of the individual 
boy. When the right boys are put into the right jobs, 
employers have more incentive to take trouble over them, 
failures are fewer and the demand for learners is stimulated : 
and where an employer can be assured of competent ones, 
it is worth his while to regularize their conditions of employ- 
ment and even to take more of them. This in turn will 
make it possible to reduce the number of those who pick 


up their trades casually, a result which can also be 
promoted directly by increasing the number of regular 
engagements and, where this is impossible, controlling 
their movements from firm to firm. Further, their needs as 
learners must be kept clearly before them, so that their 
future prospects shall not be sacrificed to immediate high 
wages. In another direction, also, there are ample oppor- 
tunities for improvement in the provision of increased 
facilities for trade teaching. 

Finally, the expense involved in teaching is less susceptible 
to direct attack, but anything that improves the character 
and conduct of the boys renders them more profitable to 
their employers, and makes it more w 7 orth their while to 
engage and teach them or to promote more frequently the 
most capable of their boy labourers : and so this difficulty 
will to some extent be overcome. 

Above all, anything that reduces the expense of teaching 
or improves the character and conduct of London boys will 
check the tendency of employers to look elsewhere for 
their younger workmen. At present, as in the past, their 
reasons for doing this are probably adequate, but a general 
improvement in the supply of labour would remove much 
both of the need and of the justification. Something has 
already been done and much will depend on the success 
of the Labour Exchanges in supplying them with better 
lads than they have hitherto been able to get. If they can 
fill situations with the right sort, they can appeal with the 
best of all arguments that of good business and the 
employers will be quick to respond. 

Indeed the question of dealing with the influx raises 
again the whole wide problem of Industrial Training, except 
that, generally speaking, it affects only the skilled trades, 
since with some exceptions semi-skilled and unskilled pro- 
cesses do not exercise the same attraction. To sum up, 
therefore, part of this influx is inevitable so far as it is due 
to the presence of abler men who desire to better themselves. 
Partly it is avoidable, and provincial workmen now get a 
greater advantage than their abilities alone would warrant. 


But industrial and educational handicaps can be removed 
slowly but surely till the men of London and of the pro- 
vinces compete on equal terms ; and then the latter will 
only succeed, if at all, by superior capacity. 







Real Meaning of Boy Labour Various senses in which it is used : 
jobs which only last during boyhood (Blind Alleys), failure 
to acquire a permanent occupation The Blind Alley Char- 
acter Danger of latter greatest in Unskilled Work Bulk of 
Boys under fifteen in Blind Alley jobs Illustration Steady 
increase in number of learners after fifteen Nature of chief 
Blind Alleys Position of Junior Clerks and Office Boys. 

(a) The Blind Alleys Their varied character and origin 
Messenger Work In the Post Office, under the old conditions 
The Reorganization there Shop Boys : in large and small 
businesses Factory errand boys : their superior prospects 
Office Boys Vanguards Productive Blind Alleys Sections 
of a Trade carried out by Juvenile Labour Instances Trades, 
the whole of which are mainly so carried out Extent of the 
Excess in them Improvers' Blind Alleys Their Causes Real 
Crux of Blind Alley Work. 

Directly Injurious Conditions of Labour Street Trading 
Indoor and Outdoor Work Rarity of Ordinary Seasonal 
or Cyclical Irregularity of Employment Monotony of much 
Indoor Work Influence of absence of Aim or Object in Blind 
Alley Work. 

Real Evil of Blind Alley springs from creation of type of 
character or conduct Influence of this on the Employer 
And on the Boy Rough Character of Boys Tendency of 
Conditions to conceal the fact that a surplus of boys is being 
employed Tendency to increase gap between Juvenile and 
Adult Labour Similarity of and Differences between Total 
and Partial Blind Alleys. 

369 BB 


(b) The Partial Blind Alley. Usually a Skilled Trade 
Problems Peculiar to it Two species of Partial Blind 
Alley In Following-Up Proper Proportion of Boys to Men 
Leather-Splitting Wire-Weaving Rivetting of Boilers 
Dual Character of the Surplus Its Special Difficulties 
Plumbing and Smithing Their Special Problems Second 
Species Trades employing a Moderate Surplus of Boys for a 
variety of reasons Illustrations from Woodworking Trades 
Contradictory Character of Statistical Evidence Reasons 
for this Causes of the Excess Processes or Jobs Reserved 
for Boys Their Employment by Small Masters or Sub-Con- 
tractors Employment of Boy Labourers in addition to Learners. 

The Partial escapes some of the evils of the Total Blind 
Alley It Creates Special Problems of its own, which require 
a definite organization. 

(c) Wasteful Recruiting of Trades and Occupations.- Surplus 
of Boys, not Required by the Nature of a Trade, may grow 
up through Numerous Failures to Learn it properly Meaning: 
of Wasteful Recruiting Its Causes Wrong Choice of Trade- 
or Situation Leaving of One Trade for another Its Fre- 
quency It may be the Result of Unemployment Influence 
of Defective Training Sacrifice of Prospects to Immediate 
Wages Failure of those in Unskilled Jobs about a Trade to 
Utilize their chances Summary. 

The Reserve of Boy Labour How Composed An Educa- 
tional, not an Industrial, Reserve The Reserve (Industrial) 
of Adult Casual Labour described Comparison with it of 
Reserve of Boy Labour Hypothetical Illustration of Latter 
Its Comparative Smallness Its Presence in Blind Alley 
Employments Its Composition : (i) Those who drop out 
altogether ; (ii) Casually Employed Mechanics ; (iii) Specialized 
Mechanics Employed Regularly for Part of the Year; (iv) 
Mechanics Regularly Employed at a Low Rate of Wage 
Indirect Effect of Reserve in Encouraging Irregular Methods 
of Employment Summary of Its Results Effect on it of 
Provincial Influx Comparison of its Results in Skilled Trades 
and in Boy Labouring. 

(d) Concluding Summary. 

WHEN it is spoken of in relation to Industrial Training, 
the term Boy Labour is used primarily in contrast to adult 
labour and means, therefore, such as only lasts through 
boyhood or youth and comes to an end in early manhood. 
The boy labourer, in short, is distinguished from the boy 
learner in this, that the latter acquires gradually the trade 
or occupation at which he will continue to work as a man ; 


and the former, on reaching manhood, has to leave the job 
in which he has been engaged or rather it leaves him 
and find another. Thus the most salient characteristic of 
Boy Labour is this gap or hiatus between work in youth 
and in manhood which is involved in the shifting out of one 
thing into another of a different kind. The change usually 
has to be made about the age of eighteen, though sometimes 
it comes later, and at others as early as sixteen. But, 
sooner or later, it is inevitable. 

As noted in an earlier chapter, the phrase has to be used 
in more than one sense. First in certain employments the 
work of boys is divorced entirely from that of men because 
they only employ, and are only fit to employ, boys. Of 
necessity, therefore, those who are engaged in them have 
sooner or later to find some fresh occupation, and so these 
jobs are more definitely and obviously Boy Labour than 
others. They are aptly described as Blind Alleys. Normally 
they not only fail to lead, but are not expected to lead, to 
permanent engagements, and by their very nature it is 
impossible that they should. Others, again, give a definite 
livelihood to some only of their boys, and compel the rest 
to make a change. They may be known as Partial Blind 
Alleys. In this sense, therefore, Boy Labour may be 
described as such as continues through boyhood and youth, 
but no longer. 

The Problem, however, is not limited to this, but covers 
all cases of lack of success in acquiring a permanent place 
in industry. Hence Boy Labour denotes also the failure 
of a boy's work to qualify him for any kind of occupation, 
and in this sense the skilled trades have their own problem. 
It is not that they cannot provide employment for their 
boys, for usually they are able to do so. But under modern 
conditions the number of failures in them is so great as to 
constitute a third form of Boy Labour in the Wasteful 
Recruiting of Trades and Occupations. In other words, 
with education as with physical nourishment, there can be 
malnutrition as well as want of nutrition. Thus the 
questions involved are concerned, not merely with those 


jobs which lead nowhere, but with all cases of failure to 
acquire an occupation, whether from lack of opportunity 
or inability to utilize it. Among them must be included 
such partial failures as produce inferior workmen. This 
secondary meaning of the term, therefore, perhaps signifies 
best the whole of the problem. 

Nevertheless, the first of its three forms, the Blind Alleys, 
pure and simple, may be described as Boy Labour par 
excellence, since they are boys' jobs and nothing more. 
After adolescence they fail necessarily as a means of liveli- 
hood ; and both they and the Partial Blind Alleys differ 
from Wasteful Recruiting in the fact that with the latter 
some defect or mistake is required to produce failure, and 
with the two former such is almost inevitable in many cases, 
unless definite steps are taken to avert it. 

Moreover, Boy Labour of any kind produces its effect 
not only from the nature of the employment itself, but from 
the type of industrial character which it creates. In short, 
there is not only Blind Alley work, but the Blind Alley 
character as well. If a permanent livelihood is to be found 
in manhood, a job must not only lead to a definite occupa- 
tion, but must fit a person to fill one. In other words, it 
must bring him up as a steady, regular and disciplined work- 
man. This, indeed, is the crux of the whole matter. It is 
less important that a boy's work should lead direct to a 
man's work, than that it should prepare him properly for 
it. If it does, the shifting should not be difficult when the 
right time comes. The great evil of Boy Labour is that 
it produces a type of character, which unfits him for it, 
and tends to make him casual and undisciplined and lack- 
ing in steadiness and perseverance. This is true of all its 
forms, and of all kinds of employment, whether skilled or 
not, though it is more marked in some trades than in others, 
with vanguards, errand boys and rivet boys, for instance, 
than with the Post Office messenger. 

The danger, however, is far greater in the Blind Alley 
than in a skilled trade. The boy needs, it is true, to grow 
up steady and disciplined in the latter no less than in the 


former. But the learner is more under control, has a more 
definite objective and will have his skill to fall back upon. 
To the boy labourer of the Blind Alley, his steadiness and 
regularity are likely to be his all. Hence we have to face 
not only the problem of the Blind Alley trade, but the 
derived one of the Blind Alley character in all trades. 

An occupation, therefore, must not be classed as boy 
labour simply because it does not lead to skilled work, but 
only when it fails to fit a lad for any kind of employment 
at all. For under modern conditions many workmen must 
go, and continue to go, into low-skilled jobs. Moreover, 
the work of many Blind Alleys has to be carried out and 
to be carried out by boys. If, therefore, they are to work 
at all, a great many have to do it and for not a few, parti- 
cularly between fourteen and sixteen, it is the only thing 
they can get. Without such work there would not be 
enough jobs to go round. The recent Census, for instance, 
returned 21,366 boys between fourteen and fifteen as engaged 
in occupations in the County of London and 33,174 l in the 
Urban Districts of Greater London. Of these the two chief 
Blind Alleys, those of Vanguards and Messengers, 2 and 
Junior Clerks and Office Boys, whose work often reveals 
traces of a Blind Alley nature, account for nearly 12,000, 
and over 17,000 respectively. On the other hand, compara- 
tively few are employed between these ages in the chief 
skilled trades. This may be illustrated by the following 
table : 

1 Estimated by the method described in Chapter I. 

2 The Census heading is Messengers, Porters, Watchmen (not 
Railway or Government). Railway messengers are not separately 
returned and with the changes in the Post Office the work of the 
chief class of Government messengers has ceased to be a Blind 
Alley, and they also are excluded from the table. 




Boys' Jobs and Blind Alleys. 

Selected Skilled Trades. 











Junior Clerks and 

Fitters and Tur- 

Office Boys. . 


2 ,457 




Vanguards and 




Junior Carmen 



Electrical Appar- 

Messengers and 

atus Makers . 



Porters . 



Precious Metal 

and Instrument 

Trades . 



Carpenters and 







Cabinet Makers . 






Printers and 




Bookbinders . 



Total . . 



Total . . 



After fifteen or at least sixteen the excess of boys employed 
in the chief Blind Alley jobs diminishes rapidly, whilst 
the numbers in skilled work and in clerical employment 
steadily increase. This will appear from the following 
table, giving the total engaged in these groups for each year 
from fourteen to seventeen, and for purposes of comparison 
between nineteen and twenty, and their percentage of all 
occupied males at these ages. 

1 In most cases labourers are included, as they are not given 
separately in the Census. Probably their numbers are not large. 
















All occupied . 
Chief Blind Alley Jobs 









Clerical Labour . 









Selected SkilledTrades 









Percentage of Total 


Chief Blind Alleys. 









Clerical .... 









Selected Skilled 

Trades . . . 









Thus in the Blind Alleys the excess after fifteen continues 
for a time to be considerable, but is much less marked, and 
the proportion in them of all the boys employed is less than 
half between sixteen and seventeen of what it was between 
fourteen and fifteen. In the earlier years the gross excess 
is far greater with messengers than with vanguards, but 
it must be remembered that some of the former are in 
positions which will be practically permanent if they show 
sufficient capacity, or in which they will have a good chance 
of working their way up. The messenger's job, moreover, 
fails him sooner than that of the vanguard. , The actual 
number of the former falls rapidly after sixteen, and begins 
to decline after fifteen. It is not till after seventeen that 
a diminution begins among the latter. There is a similar 
tendency in other jobs of this class, and in Rivetting, for 
instance, many leave the trade at, or just after, sixteen. 

On the other hand, the selected skilled trades show a 
regular increase typical of all work of this kind, and employ 
nearly n per cent, of the total between sixteen and seven- 
teen as against just over 8 per cent, between fourteen and 
fifteen. Similarly clerical workers more than trebled their 
numbers and nearly doubled their percentages between 
fifteen and seventeen. For many boys, therefore, it is 

1 Including labourers, when they are not separately specified. 


obvious that employment in unskilled boy labour is only 
necessary as a temporary resort between fourteen and fifteen 
till they can find better places or reach an age at which 
employers who have such to offer are prepared to take them 

Before leaving the matter, a word must be said as to the 
character of the junior clerical jobs. The returns suggest 
a deficiency rather than an excess of boys, which would 
lead to the conclusion that they are the antithesis of boy 
labour. On the other hand, there is little doubt that there 
are not a few firms which offer little or no prospect, so that 
as far as they are concerned the work is a Blind Alley. 
Moreover, it often gives little steadiness and discipline, and 
leads to much irregular movement from firm to firm, and 
so produces the Blind Alley character. It is necessary to 
reconcile, therefore, this deficiency of boys, taking the 
occupation as a whole, with the presence of a certain amount 
of Blind Alley employment in it. 

In the first place, it is probable that many office boys 
will have been classed in the Census as messengers and not 
as clerks. Secondly, the employment is largely recruited 
from those who do not start work till sixteen, seventeen, or 
later, or from other older persons. Places, therefore, are 
not filled directly from the younger boys, and some of them 
may be dismissed at the same time that vacancies in the 
same firms are being filled from other sources. Thirdly, 
junior clerks in the bigger businesses often get an excellent 
chance of promotion, but in the smaller ones they are bound 
to be dismissed sooner or later, and often cannot get taken 
on elsewhere. Frequently, indeed, the lower grade of office 
boy is found not to be suitable for promotion. A good 
many, therefore, have to transfer themselves to something 


It is now possible to consider in more detail the different 
forms of Boy Labour and a commencement may be made 
with the Blind Alleys, These originate in various ways, 


First there are those branches of the work of a skilled 
trade which are set apart to be performed entirely by boys 
and girls, such as the working of semi-automatic machines. 
Secondly, there is a considerable amount of unskilled factory 
labour which is mainly carried out by them. Thirdly, there 
are those employed in errands and messages, in porterage, 
in warehouse work and in various branches of general labour. 
Blind Alley Occupations, therefore, include a few jobs that 
require a large number of boys, and many more that only 
employ a few each, and we may begin by considering the 
effect of each class upon those who enter it. 

That of shop, errand and messenger boys is a very hetero- 
geneous one, and the conditions under which they are em- 
ployed are correspondingly varied. Previous to the changes 
of the last few years the work of the telegraph messenger 
in the Post Office was a very marked Blind Alley indeed. 
The pay was fair and included a uniform. The boys were 
kept under some discipline and control. The hours, though 
apt to be irregular and spasmodically long, were on the 
average short. As a purely temporary job, therefore, it 
had many advantages, and had the recommendation that 
it kept boys in the open air and improved their health, 
and that it smartened them up generally and kept them 
under some discipline. 1 On the other hand, only a very small 
proportion used to be absorbed in the regular service, and 
thousands had to be dismissed annually. Hence, though in 
some respects of a superior kind, the job was in many ways 
typical of Blind Alleys generally. 

Recently, however, pressure has been put on the 
authorities to re-organize the work. As a result the boys 
are employed as messengers for a longer period. In this and 
other ways the numbers required have been reduced, and 
the openings for permanent employment have been in- 

1 See the First Report of the Standing Committee on Boy Labour 
in the Post Office. " Whilst the more or less intermittent nature 
of a messenger boy's work and its lack of any directly educational 
influence no doubt tend to reduce, they do not destroy the value 
of the strict discipline and physical training under which the lads 
pass their service." 


creased. Already those whom it is necessary to discharge 
annually for lack of prospects have been reduced to a few 
hundreds, and it is hoped that in a few years permanent 
vacancies will be available for all who possess sufficient 
capacity and who wish to stay in the service of the Post 
Office. 1 Some of the large Messenger Companies and such- 
like bodies also provide good general conditions for those 
they employ, similar to, and sometimes rather better than, 
were given by the Post Office, previous to the reorganization. 
The same is true of Railway Bookstall boys, except that 
the hours are usually longer. 

With shop boys the position varies considerably. In 
large firms some at least get the opportunity to work their 
way up ; the work itself is often interesting, even if it is not 
skilled, and they are well controlled by the heads of their 
departments. At its worst, therefore, such employment 
is not actively harmful. The best boys get promotion and 
the less able are at least kept steadily at it. In smaller 
businesses, however, conditions are not nearly so good, and 
with the little shopkeeper who employs only a single errand 
boy, there are no prospects at all. The lads are not kept 
under much control, many of them spend most of their time 
knocking about the streets, and their hours are often 
extremely long. 

Thirdly, there are the boys employed on the errands, and 
in making themselves generally useful, about factories and 
workshops. This is mainly indoor work, and involves less 
danger of getting on the streets, and where they are occupied 
in serving and helping the men, there is some variety about 
it. In many cases, no doubt, there is no chance to rise, 
but in others the job is not really a Blind Alley at all. Smart 
lads are promoted to the bench, and many firms at 
the present time take their boys first of all on trial in this 
capacity for six months or a year before putting them to the 
trade. For this often provides a better test of their suit- 

1 For a fuller description of these changes, see Appendix V, 
"" The Telegraph Messenger and the Vanboy." 


ability than can otherwise be secured. Frequently it is a 
boy's own fault if promotion does not follow ; and the dis- 
missal of many is due to bad conduct or lack of capacity. 
Even among messengers alone, therefore, prospects differ 
very widely indeed, and their case has been treated in 
some detail to show the care that must be taken before 
writing down any particular job as entirely a Blind 

The position of the Office Boy and Junior Clerk has already 
been dealt with. It has been pointed out that a great 
many of this class have excellent prospects of permanent 
employment, advancement being sure, if slow. In the 
smaller firms, on the other hand, and especially in the 
smallest ones which perhaps have only an office boy and no 
clerks, promotion is often practically impossible, and boys 
come and go in the most haphazard way. The employment, 
therefore, is a Blind Alley, at least so far as the particular 
firm is concerned, and though sometimes openings can be 
found elsewhere with comparative ease, this is not always 
the case. Hence the job is a blind alley in these cases, 
though not in the sense that promotion anywhere within 
the business is practically impossible. Thus in many 
respects the work should be classed rather as a Partial 
than as a Total Blind Alley. 

Conditions, however, are most unfavourable with the 
vanboys or, as they are called, vanguards, though their 
prospects are rather better than those of some kinds of shop 
boys. Hours, which are those of the carmen, are long, 
often unreasonably so, and render attendance at evening 
schools impossible. The boy is exposed to a marked degree 
to the temptations of the streets. His work demands little 
intelligence or sustained effort, and is apt to breed careless 
and lazy habits. With some exceptions the chances of 
promotion are not many, and before the increases in wages 
obtained in 1911, the job offered no such attractions as 
would induce boys to stay in it. The Railway Companies, 
it is true, succeed in providing for all of their vanguards in 
other departments of their work, as do some other large 


employers. Elsewhere, however, a great many have to 
seek'fresh occupations. 1 

Finally, there are the Productive Blind Alleys, that is to 
say, those forms or processes of manufacture which employ 
mainly boys. Their extent varies. Where only particular 
processes or jobs are affected, the result may be to give the 
trade as a whole a comparatively small surplus of Boy 
Labour and constitute it a Partial, but not a Total, Blind 
Alley, and such will be more fully considered later. The 
Productive Blind Alley proper is found where certain 
sections of an industry, or even whole trades, are carried 
out mainly by juvenile labour. 

Typical instances of such sections of a skilled trade are 
not difficult to find. In brushmaking, except in some 
smaller firms, the work of boring is carried out entirely 
by girls, whilst skilled men are still required for the ' ' Pan 
and Hair " process. In tinsmi thing, also, and in the 
cheaper lines of silverware, some large businesses have 
all the parts prepared by boys, and the only skilled men 
engaged are the solderers who fit them together. Makers 
of engineers' accessories and parts, again, often rely largely 
upon juvenile labour, and in the manufacture of light leather 
certain departments are almost entirely given up to it. 2 
Finally in brass finishing the work appears to be done 
mainly in this way in Birmingham, but less frequently so in 
London, owing to its more varied character and, as a rule, 
its better quality. 

Lastly, there are those trades in which the work consists 
in great part of unskilled juvenile labour. Most of them 
individually are small, but together they employ a consider- 
able surplus of boys. Below are given the numbers engaged 
in them in the County of London at different ages, as re- 
turned by the Census of igoi. 3 The figures in the first 

1 See also Appendix V, " The Telegraph Messenger and the 
Vanboy," and the recent Report of the Departmental Committee 
of the Home Office on the Labour of Van and Warehouse Boys. 

2 See Chapter VIII. 

3 The returns for this census are quoted as the Census of 1911 


table are the average number employed in each age group 
for each year of age 1 : 

(figures in brackets represent 


Av. No. 

Av. No. 

Av. No. 

Av. No. 

total employed in trade). 


Leaden and Zinc Goods (1,357) 






Dve, Ink, Paint, etc., Makers, 







Cartridge, Fireworks and 

Matches . . . (1,968) 






Candles and Soap . (1,383) 






Paper and Stationery Manu- 
facture .... (6,489) 



1 88 

1 66 


Rope Making . . (882) 






Jam and Chocolate . (1,243) 






General Factory Labour and 

Other Workers . . (7,184) 











The total numbers employed in each age group were : 





The surplus of youthful labour will perhaps be brought 
out best by a comparison with the annual average of all 
occupied at different ages in London and in the whole of 
England and Wales. The numbers are given as percentages 
of those employed between twenty and twenty-four. 

does not give separate figures for all the trades concerned. In the 
earlier one separate returns are only given for the County of London. 
In those for which information is available, the recent census shows 
on the whole a less marked excess than that of 1901, but still a 
considerable one. 

1 That is to say, from fifteen to nineteen is a period of five years. 
The number given is one-fifth of the total in this group, from twenty- 
five to thirty-four is ten years, and the number taken is one-tenth 
of this, 





All Occupied 

All occupied 
England and 

Excess ( +) or 
Deficiency ( ) 
of these trades 
compared with 




and Wales. 



60 (58)1 

76 (76)1 

+ 83-3 

+ 447 



90 (95) l 

103 (I03) 1 

+ 55-6 

+ 35-9 



IOO (lOO) 1 

IOO (lOO) 1 



87 (97)1 

85 (95) l 

- 9-2 

- 7' 1 



65 (79) l 

66 (78)1 



This shows a very considerable excess of boys and youths 
in these trades between the ages of fourteen and twenty, 
which may be further illustrated in another way. If we 
compare those actually employed from fourteen to twenty 
with those who would be if the proportions were the same 
as for the whole of London, we should get the following 
results : 

Actual Number 

Normal Number 
Employed in pro- 
portion to those in 
Age Group 20-24. 






Total . . 




These figures suggest, therefore, that something like one- 
third of the boys in these employments cannot in any case 
remain permanently in them. It may be said, however, 
that in them there is no such marked provincial influx 
as there is in the skilled trades, but even in comparison with 
the whole of England and Wales there was an excess of 
nearly 1,500 or more than one-quarter of the whole. 

Moreover, allowance must be made for the fact that the 

4 - Figures in brackets are those shown by the Census of 1911., 


men in these industries may not be recruited entirely or 
even mainly from those who enter them as boys. It some- 
times happens that youths and young men of from eighteen 
to twenty-two are not much in demand, and that older men 
are required. Hence a definite break and change in em- 
ployment is necessitated. Even where this is not so, many 
boys do not stay continuously at one kind of work until 
manhood, and one of the great difficulties arises out of 
their failure to stick to their jobs. Hence the number for 
whom they are likely to prove a Blind Alley is apt to be 
far greater than the actual surplus of those employed. For 
not only do those for whom there is not room have to leave 
at the close of adolescence, but many for whom there is 
do so also or pass continually in and out of them. 

Finally, there are certain kinds of improvers' work, which 
clearly display the character of a Blind Alley. They are 
found in certain skilled trades and need such an amount 
of knowledge and capacity as a youth with a year or two's 
experience will possess, and pay wages in proportion. Now 
as a general rule improvers can hope to go on to better 
and better work till they have made themselves tradesmen. 
In these cases they seldom or never do. The job teaches 
little or nothing new, and those engaged on it never get 
more than a youth's money, or at best that of a low-skilled 
man, and as a rule they leave the trade. Such jobs, there- 
fore, may rightly be described as Improvers' Blind Alleys. 
They continue to give employment somewhat longer than 
those previously described, usually up to twenty- two or 
twenty-three, but then they fail just as the ordinary Blind 
Alley does. A few instances may be given. In machine 
cabinet -making the commonest work is " knocked together " 
by improvers, to whom it gives neither training nor per- 
manent employment that is worth keeping. The Chipping- 
Up or rough-toning of pianos is likewise done by youths, 
who have to leave the trade unless they can rise to be tuners , 
which is not possible for all of them. 

Whilst, therefore, the characteristics of Blind Alley jobs 
differ in detail, their general results are much the same, in, 


that they leave a youth on the threshold of manhood with- 
out trade or occupation. Moreover, since Boy Labour in 
them is interchangeable to a great extent, the actual excess 
in particular cases is not their most important feature. 
The decisive factor is that as a whole they use far more 
lads than they can find permanent employment for, and 
are therefore liable to lead them nowhere, as under our 
present haphazard organization they frequently do. Thus 
what is necessary is to provide that after they come to 
an end there shall be something definite to follow. 

In addition to this, they display a general tendency to 
create what I have called the Blind Alley character, and 
certain dangerous or injurious conditions attach to some of 
them. These last are, on the whole, less marked in the 
more regular indoor employments and in the work of the 
Post Office than in a great deal of outdoor and distributive 

A few have a definitely bad influence, morally as well as 
industrially. In the case of the selling of newspapers in 
the streets it is often difficult to get back into regular habits 
of work boys who have spent any considerable time at it. 
Sale of betting news makes them gamblers, the work itself 
is apt to create irregular, loafing habits, and the proportion 
of petty criminals among them is larger than in any other 
boys' job. Other forms of street trading, but not all of 
them, are almost equally injurious, and many of the hair- 
dressers' lather boys come under similar bad influences. 
Vanguards, again, suffer from long hours and absence of 
sustained effort. 

Perhaps the most frequent and most serious trouble arises 
in the case of those who are always about the streets and 
not employed steadily indoors. In some of the cases just 
mentioned this is especially acute, but many shop and 
errand boys are also exposed to it. Factory lads, indeed, 
often spend some time outside delivering goods or messages 
or fetching materials, but, as a rule, are mainly within. In 
any case they appear to be more strictly controlled, and 
to come less under the injurious influences of the streets. 


Upon those who are always about them, the evil shows 
itself in many ways. The boy is apt to get roving and 
unsettled habits, and a dislike of steady and regular 
industry, he loses all sense of responsibility, and in the worst 
cases develops into a casual, not only by habit but 
by preference. That careful control by the employer can 
obviate such results seems to follow from the cases of the Post 
Office Telegraph boys, the District Messengers, and a few 

The worst of all is, perhaps, that lads come to shift con- 
tinually from job to job. Sensational cases are best avoided, 
but for this to be done twice or even thrice a year is by no 
means uncommon, and the danger of unemployment grows 
in proportion. Such shifting, moreover, enormously in- 
creases the difficulty of fitting them for future life. For 
those who stay in one place, or only change occasionally, 
a great deal can be done because they are at least accustomed 
to work steadily, but for those who never stay long any- 
where, little or nothing is possible. So, too, an employer 
has some inducement to promote the former ; he is not 
likely to have either the will or the power in the case of the 

Except with rivet boys in boilermaking and one or two 
other classes, ordinary irregularity of engagement and 
employment is not common in the Blind Alleys, and far 
less so than with improvers in the skilled trades. Low- 
skilled factory labour is often comparatively steady. The 
work of errand boys, again, usually does not vary as much 
as that of men, since as a rule -nearly as many are required 
for busy as for slack seasons. A far more potent cause of 
the irregularity is to be found in the restlessness of the lad 
himself. His work is easy to get and as easy to change. 
Hence there is little to keep him in a particular place, and 
he leaves upon any small pretext or upon none at all. As 
a result, employers have no inducement to regularize their 
boys' work, and every temptation to employ them tem- 
porarily and put them off as soon as business declines. Even 
so, however, it is only a certain proportion of the firms who 



do this, and such irregularities are small in comparison with 
those caused entirely by the boys themselves. 

Finally many Blind Alleys, and not least those carried 
on inside a factory, suffer from their failure, not merely to 
teach anything, but even to exercise the full capacities of 
those they employ, especially where the work is both hard 
and monotonous. The boy not only learns nothing new, 
but is apt to lose what he has learnt already. Matters are 
rendered worse than they otherwise would be because such 
jobs are usually taken without aim or object beyond the 
immediate earnings. So their monotony is increased when 
there is nothing to look forward to, and their evil influence 
accentuated where there is no interest in them or in pre- 
paration for something better. Definite aims and ambitions 
are absent, and their absence causes many to fail to fit 
themselves for adult life, and sometimes never even to give 
themselves the chance. 

Blind Alley employment, therefore, leads to its worst 
and most far-reaching results not so much by producing 
specific evils as by creating a type of character and conduct, 
and this it is apt to do for one reason or another in almost 
every kind of Blind Alley. A job itself may give some 
discipline and control, but the boy, being in a position of no 
responsibility, does not profit by it. Moreover, no one has 
any further duties towards him than to see that he earns 
his wages. With learners and apprentices there is some 
obligation to teach which only the worst employers evade. 
But the boy in the Blind Alley is simply a wage-earner paid 
a certain rate, and is replaced if he does not earn it, and 
the employer's influence for good is minimized. 

This, again, reacts upon the boy. Apart from seeing that 
he does his work, he is nobody's business. He is left free 
to stay or go as he pleases, controlled only by fear of a " row " 
at home if he loses his job, and this fear causes some to 
stay on in a place long after they ought to have left it. 
Being treated as a worker, therefore, it is natural that what 
he can earn should become his first, and perhaps his only 
concern. Already liable to acquire casual habits, this new 


influence makes him even more so. Work that is easy to 
obtain is as easy to leave, and so if he is restless, or lazy or 
inclined to loaf and frequent the streets, these bad tendencies 
are encouraged, and if he is not, he is liable to acquire them. 
No one place has any particular attraction to him, and so 
instead of a steady regular workman, he grows up at best 
a casual, or low-skilled labourer, without much steadiness, 
and at worst a man who " can do anything," which means 

Moreover, the frequent complaint of employers that 
" the boys are a rough lot who do not want to be anything 
more than unskilled labourers/' illustrates this in a signi- 
ficant way. Whether the absence of responsibility actually 
produces this characteristic, or whether it is simply that 
like attracts like, may be open to question ; but it is beyond 
dispute that employment of this kind keeps them not 
only from possessing any wider aims and ambitions, but 
even from applying themselves steadily and regularly to 
anything. It is in these ways that a Blind Alley trade 
breeds and multiplies the Blind Alley character. 

Last of all, these conditions conceal from the employers 
the fact that they are using excessive numbers of boys. 
If the latter stuck steadily to their jobs, this would at once 
be obvious. When they are always coming and going, 
however, firms often experience difficulty in finding enough 
who are suitable, or sufficiently experienced, for promotion 
to the few openings they have available. Thus Mr. Cyril 
Jackson remarked in his Report to the Poor Law Commission 
on Boy Labour : 

' There appears to be no doubt that the restlessness of many 
of the boys doing more or less unskilled work obscures from 
some employers the fact that they are using a greater number 
of boys than can evidently be employed in their trade as men. 
The employers who have filled up forms often state that they 
' never discharge a boy who is willing to stay,' or that ' boys 
are only discharged for misconduct ' when it is evident from 
the figures appearing in the same form that there must be a 
considerable number of boys passing out of the trade each year,' ' 


Again, in my own experience, a firm of tinsmiths had their 
parts made by boys and soldered by the men, recruiting 
the latter from the former. Only a very few openings 
occurred, but even so it was difficult to fill them. More- 
over, a further cause of trouble is that little or no time is 
given to employers to test a boy's suitability. The more 
capable ones are often as restless as any, and are gone before 
a chance of promotion,, or even certain knowledge of their 
fitness for it, can be obtained. 

Similarly, this restlessness increases what I have called 
the hiatus between juvenile and adult labour, or at least 
the separation becomes more clear than it otherwise would 
naturally be. The lad who sticks to his job sometimes fits 
himself for another that is allied to it, whilst the one who 
is always moving will not fit himself for anything ; and if 
his employment should give him merely discipline, steadiness 
and application, these will stand him in good stead. Rest- 
less habits deprive him even of these qualities, and so in- 
crease still further the separation between his occupation 
in youth and manhood. For even in the Blind Alley there 
is some small amount of promotion of boys within a factory, 
either in the same or in other departments, and not quite 
all have necessarily to seek fresh employment. 

So far as this is the case, the distinction between Total 
and Partial Blind Alleys is obliterated, but the differences 
between them outweigh the resemblances. The Blind 
Alley only provides a few with a permanent opening, the 
Partial Blind Alley finds room for a considerable number. 
Secondly, many of those engaged in the latter are in a posi- 
tion to learn a man's work in the course of their employment. 
In the former promotion depends on the employer making 
a place for them, as he usually tries to do if they show any 
capacity. Thirdly, in a Partial Blind Alley a boy remains 
in the same trade or job (the plumber's mate, for instance, 
becoming a plumber, the hammerman a smith, and so on), 
but in a Blind Alley he is usually transferred to a different 
one, working still for the same factory but in a new capacity. 

A few instances may be given. Some printing and stereo- 


typing offices employ many errand boys, of whom a propor- 
tion, varying perhaps from one quarter up to one half, are 
either put as apprentices l or raised to be clerks or, if less 
competent, provided for in semi-skilled work. Again, in 
the metal plate and art metal working, solderers are some- 
times recruited from boys who are stamping-out. The 
case of the glue boys in joinery and cabinet shops is some- 
what similar, but there are so few of them even in a large 
firm that a chance of promotion to the bench can nearly 
always be found for any capable lad. In all these instances, 
however, present conditions result in fewer boys rising in 
this way within the shop or office than the opportunities 
available would allow. They do not go direct to the better 
work, but will be transferred to it after some time at labour- 
ing, and for the various reasons already given they miss 
their chance. 


Unlike the first, the second form of Boy Labour the 
Partial Blind Alley is, as a rule, a trade in the sense of 
requiring a high level of skill, and provides a natural opening 
for a good many of its boys ; but there is always a larger 
or smaller proportion who have to seek other occupations, 
and for them the job is a Blind Alley. The problem, there- 
fore, differs in many ways from that hitherto considered. 
Instead of a number whose employment must almost cer- 
tainly fail them in early manhood, it is often impossible 
to say whether or not any particular one will or will not be 
permanently provided for. For, whilst every boy cannot 
learn the trade, every boy has his chance, and it is not 
possible to tell at the outset whether or not he is going to 
take it. In some ways, therefore, it is far more difficult 
to remove a lad in time to other work, and there is a danger 
that it will not be the right one who is removed. In a 
Total Blind Alley the change cannot very well be for the 
worse, in a Partial Blind Alley it very well may. 

1 The Indentures in these cases are usually dated back for one 


Partial Blind Alleys fall into two groups those where 
Following-Up prevails, and those which adopt other methods 
of training and for a variety of reasons get an excess of 
juvenile labour. In the former these characteristics arise 
naturally as a result of the number of boys or youths who 
are required to assist the men. In them the problem varies 
in character and extent from trade to trade, as already 
described. 1 Where each workman has one assistant he 
may be in every case a boy or youth, or he may sometimes 
be an adult and not a boy at all, and thirdly, the work may 
be done in squads with a smaller proportion of juvenile 

The right proportion of boys to men in a trade is not easy 
to determine, and varies, among other things, according 
to the greater or less rapidity of its development. In 
London as a whole at the recent Census occupied males 
under twenty were about one to six of those over that age, 2 
and in skilled and semi-skilled employment the proportion 
was usually somewhat larger. Obviously, therefore, where 
it is one to one, there is a very large excess, and even where 
it is not more than one to three, an appreciable one. 

Trade Union rules seldom or never allow more than one 
boy to three men, and permit frequently nothing like so many, 
not as the average throughout the trade, but as the maxi- 
mum in any one shop. Hence even in industries like Print- 
ing, where firms have frequently as many or more than this 
the average is decidedly lower. Some still take few or 
none, and with compositors apprentices are not allowed 
in Newspaper Offices. Even so there are complaints of 
overstocking. The proportion of boys, indeed, is rather 
larger in one or two cases, but for this there are usually 
special reasons. Seagoing engineers, for instance, learn a 
large part of their business on shore, whilst the pianoforte 
factories train tuners not only for other parts of Great 
Britain, but for the Dominions and foreign countries. 

With Following-Up, therefore, there is necessarily a 

1 See Chapter VI. 

2 Under twenty, 199,518 ; over twenty, 1,204,744. 


larger or smaller surplus, except where many of the helpers 
are adult men. In Leather Splitting, probably from two- 
thirds to three-quarters of the assistants have to find other 
openings. These could, indeed, be provided in some fac- 
tories either in semi-skilled processes like striking-out and 
machine-finishing, or in low-skilled work such as lime- 
jobbing. But whether the displaced splitters are actually 
absorbed in this way I was unable to discover definitely. 
Moreover, being engaged on this work between seventeen 
and twenty, their absorption outside the factory is often 
less easy than with a young boy. Again, in wire rope 
weaving, many of the " watchers-out " have to leave the 
trade, but as a rule they do so about sixteen, and in the 
largest firm those who are to be taught the business are 
usually selected for the purpose by this time. Or again, 
to take an instance from semi-skilled work, there are those 
sawmills which are confined to cutting the wood into lengths 
and widths, and in which every sawyer has a boy to 
" pull-out " for him. 

These cases illustrate the state of affairs where there 
is one boy to each man. Boilermaking is, perhaps, most 
typical of their employment in larger squads. In some 
provincial centres apprentices are very numerous, but in 
London, except occasionally among the platers, the journey- 
men are recruited almost entirely from the rivet boys, who 
may rise in turn to be holders-up, rivetters and even even- 
tually platers or angle-smiths. These latter openings slightly 
reduce the excess, whilst in large constructional firms, which 
in London are not numerous, the use of the hydraulic blast 
dispenses with the boy at the fire. On the other hand, 
several carriers are required to one squad in certain kinds 
of shipwork. 

The surplus of boy labour in this trade has a double char- 
acter. Each normal squad consists of one rivet-heater 
a boy of from fourteen to sixteen one rivet-carrier an 
older youth and three men one holder-up and two 
rivetters. The carriers are recruited from the heaters and 
the men from the carriers. Hence not all the heaters can 


find places as carriers, and at about sixteen some of them 
have to leave the trade, which is for them a Partial Blind 
Alley, terminating at this age. 1 Owing to the casual char- 
acter of the work, however, more than are really needed 
stay on after sixteen. Still many do go to other work, and 
the excess after that age is correspondingly reduced. In- 
deed, it is sometimes held that once a boy is a carrier, his 
rise to be a holder-up or rivetter is assured, barring mis- 
conduct or incapacity. This is too favourable a view, and 
there is again an excess among the carriers just as there 
was among the younger boys. A few of those who are dis- 
placed appear to find some semi-skilled work, such as on the 
drilling machines. 

If, however, the excess, either before or after sixteen, is 
comparatively small, the trade has some special drawbacks. 
The work in London consists almost entirely of repairs, 
though these are often on a very large scale. As such, it 
is casual and irregular and that of individual firms varies 
considerably, quite apart from the general state of business. 
Squads move from firm to firm, and their boys follow them, 
and often there is a reserve of the latter waiting round the 
gates of a yard on the chance of a rush. This is the reason 
why, apart from the necessary excess, there are more^boys 
in this job competing for employment than are ^really 
required to do the work. Secondly, this is itself apt to 
unfit them for other things. Rough, dirty and irregular, 
it recruits many of its boys and especially those who are 
casually employed from a rough class, whom it tends to 
make still rougher. Hence employers in other industries 
only engage them for the heaviest and least skilled jobs, 
and give them little else to look forward to after they leave 
this one. 

The trades, where each mechanic has an assistant who 
may be either a man or a boy, have already been too fully 
dealt with to need detailed treatment. In the two most 
important, Smithing and Plumbing, considerable strength 

1 This is due to the fact that a boy works at the fire for about two 
years and for four, five or perhaps more as a rivet-carrier. 


is required, and comparatively few young boys are employed 
by the bigger firms. With hammermen, indeed, the work 
is so heavy that any one below seventeen or eighteen is 
rarely taken, except in small shops, or in those which have 
apprentices. There seems to be some deficiency of young 
workers in the trade, and it appears to be recruited from 
outside London to an appreciable extent. 

Plumbers' work, again, requires strength, but there are 
a good many young boys in the smaller shops. The Census 
of 1901 showed some excess of younger workers both be- 
tween fifteen and nineteen and twenty and twenty-four, 
and this in spite of a provincial influx that is considerable, 
though less marked than in other branches of the Building 
Trades. A good many young men, therefore, seem to leave 
it, but, owing to the conditions of a mate's work, to do so 
after rather than before the end of their twentieth year ; 
and this excess is in spite of the fact that many of the mates 
are grown men. As a result o? the depression in the Build- 
ing Trades since 1901, however, it has disappeared for the 
time being, but some such surplus seems to be the normal 

These two employments, moreover, are liable to other 
dangers. Instead of a small number having to leave them 
and find other work, they may stay in them and overstock 
them with labour. The result will be that, instead of a 
few being utterly stranded, a large proportion of the men 
suffer from irregular employment. This tendency is accen- 
tuated by the fact that a boy who does not become a 
mechanic can still get a permanent job as a mate or hammer- 
man, and this also helps to increase the numbers of would- 
be learners. For the mates are thus recruited from two 
sources from those who wish to rise and from those who 
are content to remain where they are and get their livelihood 
in this capacity. Further, the number of learners is less 
easy to regulate than in other trades, because it cannot be 
known for certain which, or how many, of them will rise. 
This is perhaps particularly true of the plumbers, thanks 
to the great facilities afforded to them by the Trade Schools, 


and their continuously high percentage of unemployment 
during recent years lends support to the view that such 
overstocking is a reality. Among the smiths, on the con- 
trary, the heaviness of the work appears to have prevented 
a similar result. 

Secondly, the prevailing conditions are apt either to cause, 
or to increase, the amount of Wasteful Recruiting in these 
trades. This is particularly true where the fear of over- 
stocking renders the men hostile to the efforts and ambi- 
tions of their helpers and causes them to put hindrances in 
their way. Hence the difficulties experienced by the latter 
cause many of them to fail to learn their business properly, 
and there grows up a class of half-taught mechanics. This, 
again, appears to be particularly true of Plumbing, and in 
it we find a number of " good-mates spoilt " who are in- 
ferior workmen, and who do not get regular work themselves, 
but yet get enough to casualize the employment of abler 
and better men. In other words, whilst the Blind Alley 
produces the casual labourer, the Partial Blind Alley is apt 
to create the casual mechanic. 

Finally, the same influences are also apt to bring it about 
that men who are fit for something better remain mates or 
hammermen all their lives. Just as some are prevented 
from learning properly, so others will be hindered from 
learning at all. Some fail to learn from lack of capacity, 
and to put it frankly, ought not to have attempted to do 
so ; others possess the capacity, but never make the attempt. 
In this case, therefore, there is once more a loss and waste of 
valuable industrial abilities, and these results may be at least 
as serious as those which normally accompany a Blind Alley. 

The second group of Partial Blind Alleys is also composed 
of skilled trades, but the methods of Service and Migration 
are generally adopted in them. Thus the surplus of boys 
is not due to the numbers required as assistants by par- 
ticular men, but to the fact that in certain easier parts of 
the work or in other jobs connected with it more are em- 
ployed as boys than room can be found for as men. This 
may not be true of each individual shop, but the whole 



trade will have some excess. Such a phenomenon is chiefly 
found in the Furniture and Woodworking Industry, and 
must be distinguished from the Wasteful Recruiting that 
is also prominent in it. The one, indeed, tends to produce 
the other, and it is not always possible to distinguish the 
results of the one from the results of the other. 

In the industry just mentioned it is not altogether easy 
to estimate the extent of the Blind Alley work of this kind 
from the published figures. Boys in these trades will be 
either learners or those who will have to leave them sooner 
or later. Hence a deficiency of them may be quite consis- 
tent with the existence of a certain amount of it, a small 
excess of boy labourers being more than counterbalanced 
by a marked shortage of learners. This difficulty is, to a 
great extent, common to all Partial Blind Alleys. 

A second and in many ways more serious one, is the 
result of influences that have specially affected the Furniture 
Trades. Like the Building Trades, they enjoyed a pro- 
longed period of exceptional prosperity previous to the 
Census of 1901, and an even longer one of no less exceptional 
depression since, which has not long come to an end. The 
result has been first to increase largely the numbers entering 
them previous to the former year, and then to cause these 
numbers to fall much below the average. This may be 
illustrated by the following table : 

CENSUSES OF 1901 AND 1911. 

Percentages employed at each year of age at certain age groups 
(25-34 = ioo). 









I C) I I . 

London (All Occupied 

Males) .... 







Cabinet Making . 







French Polishing 

I 3 6 






Upholstery . 

II 9 









I 4 I 




Wood Carving 


9 1 






The two periods thus show absolutely contradictory 
results. Compared with the whole of London, all these 
trades exhibited in 1901 a marked and sometimes a very 
marked excess both of boys and young men, and in Polish- 
ing, Sawmilling and Carving it appeared only to terminate 
in early manhood. On the other hand, in 1911 only Saw- 
milling showed any surplus at all. This was still large, 
though not nearly so large as it was ten years earlier. In 
Upholstery the proportions were about normal, and Carving 
and Cabinet Making had a decided, and Polishing a very 
large, deficiency. The latter is possibly due in part to the 
increased employment of women and girls in the easier parts 
of the work. Otherwise the decline in the numbers between 
fifteen and twenty-five appears to be mainly due to a de- 
crease in those of the learners who have been taken since 
about 1902 or 1903 ; for other evidence points to the con- 
tinued existence of some Partial Blind Alley work in these 
trades. Hence the figures for 1901 probably represent more 
nearly the normal conditions, though they undoubtedly 
exaggerated the excess of boys and younger men. The 
character and causes of the surplus may now be considered. 

In some cases, certain processes and jobs are carried out 
entirely by boys, who, at any rate in individual firms, are 
employed in too large numbers to permit of the trade absorb- 
ing the whole of them. Sometimes their work teaches 
them little or nothing, as in certain large machine cabinet 
factories in which it is highly specialized, and some of them 
are confined each to a single small job and nothing more. 
Other instances are the working of semi-automatic machines 
in engineering and of the punch-press in tinsmithing and 
art metal work, and perhaps the filing-up of silverware, 
though here the lad has better opportunities of seeing, 
though not of doing, other processes. 

Cases, again, may be quoted in which there is a similar 
excess of boys, but their work forms part of the trade and 
helps them to make a start at it. Thus in French Polishing 
they are engaged to " clean down " the woodware in pre- 
paration for the polish, or even to put on the first coat, or 


in wood carving certain things are reserved for them ; and 
in both such jobs are a step towards learning the business. 
The smarter, therefore, get to the trade, the others are 
eventually dismissed, unless, as is more probable, they have 
previously discharged themselves. Similarly, in processes 
that are reserved for improvers, more are sometimes taken 
than can be permanently retained. 

Secondly, where sub-contractors are numerous, the em- 
ployment by each of them of a few boys may lead to an 
appreciable excess. Thus, in Pianoforte Manufacture, each 
of them requires one to help him in the smaller firms, whilst 
in the larger ones they may keep one or two on permanently 
and engage a few more for the busy season only. At its 
close these are turned off, perhaps to return for the next 
season ; and the necessity of employing them in this way 
often creates a further difficulty. 

The same thing happens in other trades where small 
masters are numerous. In Wood-Turning many of them are 
working alone or with a single man and take and teach a 
boy, or have two men and a couple of boys. The larger 
firms, on the other hand, do not appear to take many, but 
even so the Census of 1901 showed some surplus up to the 
age of twenty. So, again, small cabinet makers can make 
use of one or two boys and bring them on so far as they 
are able, and thus cause an excess. For even if this is not 
true of the whole trade but only of certain sections of it, 
entry into other firms may not be possible owing to the 
different character or quality of their work, or because the 
latter get the men they require from outside London. 

Thirdly, where firms employ both learners and boys for 
other purposes, the work of the latter is apt to become a 
Blind Alley. Some of them avoid this either by making the 
younger apprentices run the errands or by promoting other 
lads to the bench. But in other cases few or none of them 
are thus provided for, and though they may get the chance 
to work their way up elsewhere, some of them will be 
compelled eventually to leave the trade. 

In such ways, therefore, these trades employ a moderate 


excess of boys, and though able to absorb most of them, 
cannot find room for all. As a rule, this surplus is smaller 
than where Folio wing-Up prevails, partly because it is only 
in certain firms that it exists to a serious extent, and partly 
because some of these lads can find employment elsewhere. 
For the fact that certain shops have more than they can 
keep on permanently does not necessarily mean that there 
are too many in the trades taken as a whole. At the same 
time, in those which we have been considering and in some 
others, these causes have been sufficiently in operation to 
constitute them Partial Blind Alleys. Hence there is some 
excess, but this is not due, as in the first case, to any fixed 
combination of boys and men in pairs or squads, nor is it 
brought about solely by defects in methods of recruiting. 
Its cause is that for a variety of reasons more boys need to 
enter them than they can permanently keep and that those 
who have to leave sonie firms cannot be entirely absorbed 
by others. 

Regarded as a whole, Partial Blind Alleys have created 
a distinct problem of their own, different both from that 
of the Total Blind Alley, and that of the Wasteful Recruiting 
of trades and occupations. Compared with the former they 
frequently provide work for a youth rather than a boy, 
and where it can be done economically by an adult, they do 
give at any rate permanent semi-skilled employment. 
Moreover, the boy or youth attached to them is under 
stricter discipline and control than the errand or van boy, 
and often leaves the job, if he does leave it, a steadier and 
more regular worker than when he entered it. 

On the other hand, they have their own special difficulties. 
They empjoy many older boys and youths and a change, 
for those who have to make it, is more difficult at eighteen 
or afterwards than it is at an earlier age. Again, some who 
are fit for something better remain all their lives in semi- 
skilled jobs. Thirdly, they are apt to become overstocked, 
when, as sometimes happens, those who ought to leave 
them contrive to stay on, and thus cause or increase irregu- 
larity of employment. Finally, ior the reason just men- 


tioned, youths liable to be displaced from a Partial Blind 
Alley may be more than usually difficult to deal with. For 
in a Total Blind Alley it is possible to know, with some 
degree of certainty, how many will have to find other jobs 
sooner or later ; but in a partial one, whilst comparatively 
few leave the trade altogether, it is not easy to tell in advance 
which these are ; and in those which need older youths, 
the difficulty is all the greater. 

This problem, therefore, requires a special organization 
of its own to distinguish clearly those who are, or who are 
not, to enter the trades concerned. Probably for this reason 
the right to them may have to be confined to apprentices 
or to others who are definitely accepted as learners, for 
whom a reasonable period of trial, of as much as a year or 
even more, should be allowed. This would help to guard 
against overstocking and render more easy the improvement 
in methods of teaching. On the other hand, those who 
cannot enter them could then be drafted into other positions, 
perhaps within the same factory. Lastly, such an organi- 
zation will check the tendency to wasteful recruiting and 
assist the supervision of the individual boy, and so help 
to overcome these difficulties also. 


The occupations, so far considered, all have a natural 
excess of boys, and fail to give employment after boyhood 
is over to a larger or smaller proportion of them. In the 
third phase of the problem, this surplus is produced by 
other causes. The question of Wasteful Recruiting will 
be considered mainly in connexion with the skilled trades, 
where its importance is greatest, but it is also found in 
many others. In such trades learners are taken in the ordin- 
ary way, and the nature of the employment does not in 
itself require an excess, yet more will enter many of them 
than they can permanently retain, and what is more, they 
will have to do so if a sufficient number of competent men 
is to be provided. This surplus, therefore, is brought about 


by the failure of a good many either to learn their trade at 
all or to learn it properly, and they thus grow up without 
proper command of any occupation. Hence this is caused 
by failure to learn where the opportunity to do so exists, 
and not, as in the two previous cases, by the lack of that 

Some failures, indeed, there must always be in every trade, 
and so Wasteful Recruiting does not consist in their exist- 
ence, but in the fact that they are far more numerous than 
can be accounted for by the sprinkling of lazy or incom- 
petent boys who are found everywhere. In short, Wasteful 
Recruiting implies the spoiling of much good material, and 
that boys start to learn a trade sometimes with the fairest 
prospects and fall out by the way. Hence, even after 
allowing for necessary wastage, the production of a given 
number of competent workmen requires the taking of a 
considerably larger number of boys ; and so many skilled 
trades have a reserve of boy labour. It is, nevertheless, 
the extent of this rather than its mere existence, that 
constitutes the problem. 

As thus defined, Wasteful Recruiting falls into two classes. 
Either a boy fails altogether to learn his trade, or he grows 
up an incompetent or inferior workman ; and in either 
case larger numbers enter it than can find full employment 
later. The matter may now be considered in detail. 

First there is direct mis-placement or the putting of boys 
into unsuitable trades or situations either into the wrong 
trade or into the wrong shop in the right one. Both mistakes 
are common ; and as regards the former, parents are not 
seldom to blame, less for want of interest in their children, 
than for want of thought and care. The first thing that 
offers or that occurs to them is too often taken without 
reference to the boy's tastes or abilities, and others try to 
put their sons into positions that are beyond their capacity. 
Often, again, nothing is done until they have actually left 
school, and then work has to be found in a hurry ; and some- 
times the thing is left entirely to chance. 

Moreover, considerable difficulties face even the most 


thoughtful. Good openings are scarce, and some of them 
appear to be unpromising ; whilst a boy often does not 
know his own mind, or may not be specially suited to any- 
thing in particular. There is great danger, too, in their 
remaining idle, and to this parents are quite alive. " There 
are so many boys after jobs," said one mother, " that we 
thought he had better take the first he could get." Finally 
the right job is hard to find, and neither parent nor boy 
knows how to find it, and, till recently, there has been little 
organization to help them to do so. Anyhow, whatever 
the cause, the effect is the same. Going to the wrong trade, 
the boy fails to master it and either has to leave it altogether 
or content himself with irregular employment. 

Even in a suitable trade much the same result follows 
from choice of the wrong type of shop. If it does inferior 
work or lacks capacity to teach, or still more, if it neglects 
to do so, a boy may come out of his time little better off 
than when he entered it. Here, too, parents are, or have 
been till recently, very badly off for expert advice ; but, 
on the whole, this danger is not quite so great as the first. 
Being suited by the trade, and possessing the capacity to 
learn, the lads only need to get the chance, and the abler 
of them make one for themselves by moving away to other 

For these and other reasons, therefore, it is quite a common 
thing ior a boy to leave one trade for another, as a result of 
causes which sometimes are and sometimes are not under 
his control. The change may come soon, or it may come 
late, but sooner or later it does come. The chance way in 
which he obtained his job often ties him to it less strictly 
than if he had been more carefully and formally engaged. 
So he goes to it for a few months, for a year, perhaps for 
two, and learns a little. Then he gets tired of the work, or 
thinks he is not learning quickly enough, or has a row with 
somebody, or, in some cases, merely wants a change, and 
off he goes. After this he may get another job in the same 
trade, he may start in a different one or he may take purely 
unskilled work ; and it is not unusual for a youth to nibble 

D D 


at several trades in this way with spells of boy labour sand- 
wiched in between them. 

Moreover, change from one trade to another is sometimes 
the only alternative to long periods of unemployment. 
Where there are marked seasonal variations, as in Pianoforte 
Manufacture, or where the work of individual firms comes 
in rushes, boys are sometimes treated much as the men are, 
and are dismissed as soon as things fall slack, though many 
firms try to avoid this. This forces them into other jobs 
skilled or unskilled and some do not return with the 
busy season and indeed soon contract the habit of wander- 
ing about and sticking at nothing. Again, a long spell of 
unemployment may have a similar effect, and so, for one 
reason or another, many leave the employment which they 
started to learn, or if they do not, work at it so irregularly 
as to become inferior workmen. 

Further, there are the results of defective training, and 
more especially those connected with the casual picking-up 
of a trade. Though not unknown, these are as a rule least 
serious under the more definite forms of Regular Service. 
They are more considerable under its other types and in 
the case of Following-up, and probably most serious under 
Migration. To a few of the abler boys, indeed, the latter 
may give as good a training as, and larger earnings during 
its course than, more regular methods, discontinuity in the 
work being in their case compensated for by its greater 
variety. But for the great majority its dangers outweigh 
its advantages. They are peculiarly liable to unemploy- 
ment, as they are compelled to move about from firm to 
firm. They are left too much to their own devices and, 
not being recognized learners, it is no man's business to 
teach them ; whilst fear of cheap labour may set their fellow- 
workmen against them. Many leave the trade and still 
more, without dropping out altogether, grow up incom- 
petent or only partially taught. " I object to a boy learning 
as an improver," one foreman said, " because he picks his 
trade, so to speak, in the gutter." 

To learn properly by Migration, the improver has to 


choose carefully the kind of shops he goes to and regulate 
the time he stays in each ; but many stay too long at in- 
ferior work, or select a new place mainly with a view to 
what they can earn. Further, being paid as workers not 
as learners, they have to be kept on what is most profitable 
to their employers ; and, particularly when paid piece- 
work, are liable to acquire wrong methods by turning out 
inferior stuff rapidly and in a slipshod way. The necessary 
changes of job, again, create the habit of continually chang- 
ing, and lead to loss of capacity to stick steadily to anything. 

Finally, the attraction of immediate high earnings causes 
so'me to neglect to learn their business thoroughly. Finding 
employers offering good money, especially when trade is 
brisk, they fail to see the need for further improvement. 
Thus between 1895 and 1900 foremen stonemasons in 
London were putting on almost any one who could handle 
a chisel, and young men were always changing firms to 
increase their wages. Only when depression came did they 
realize their shortcomings, too late to remedy them. In 
Silversmi thing, again, young fellows may quickly become 
worth 255. to 305. a week at a particular kind of work, at 
which they will stick and never learn more. 

For even when a youth is at pains to learn, the power to 
earn comparatively high wages may make him think that 
he knows more than he does, or that having learnt one 
section of a trade well he has learnt sufficient. And if some 
of the more thoughtful boys fall into this error, others 
simply learn a part of the business and then sacrifice every- 
thing to earning as much as possible. Indeed, some In- 
structors in the Trade Schools are so alive to this danger 
as to fear even the payment of such good rates. Here the 
result is less frequently the generally inferior workman 
than the man who can do only certain parts of a trade. 
As the most serious, therefore, the case of Migration has been 
described in detail, but much that has been said will apply 
also, though in a lesser degree, to the various forms of 
Regular Service, since these check, but do not always nor 
altogether prevent, the creation of a reserve of boy labour. 


Further, there is often waste in connexion with those 
unskilled jobs about an industry, which can and sometimes 
do give a chance to learn it. For owing to incapacity or 
bad behaviour or failure to stick to their work, boys allow 
chances to go begging, and what might be the making of a 
few boys merely provides a succession of temporary jobs, 
which lead to nothing, for a much larger number. Again, 
irregular employment of improvers often creates a casual 
reserve of them, and in certain cases individual employers 
find it to their advantage to overstock their business with 
younger workers. 

The same phenomenon is also present in the case of 
unskilled boy labour, where it is largely a by-product of 
Blind Alley employment. In the skilled trades far more 
boys enter than learn, not because excessive numbers are 
engaged, though in some trades this cause also operates to 
a certain extent, but because so many fail to learn ; and, 
as a result, a Reserve of Boy Labour has to grow up to ensure 
a sufficient supply of men in the future. The chief elements 
in this Reserve may now be briefly summarized as follows. 
To begin with, there are those who have been wrongly 
placed from the very first ; secondly, those who have started 
in a suitable trade but failed to stick to it ; and, thirdly, 
those who have failed to learn it fully. It is comprised not 
only of youths who drop out before or after reaching man- 
hood, but of many of those who stay in a trade as irregular 
or low-paid workers * ; and whilst the share contributed 
by each single cause may not be large, the total reserve 
is often considerable. Its size varies from trade to trade. 
Where methods of teaching are well regulated as in Print- 
ing, it is small ; where the most haphazard ones prevail, 
it is decidedly large, and it frequently reaches appreciable 

Moreover, this Reserve is not simply an ordinary reserve 
of casual labour, similar to that which occupies so prominent 

1 Because, as will be described later, more of such men are re- 
quired for a given output .than if they were well taught. Hence a 
jeserve of boys sufficient to produce this greater number is required. 


a place in the case of men. Such a one is sometimes found, 
arising partly out of the irregular employment of improvers 
and others and partly from the irregularity of the lads 
themselves. Still, taking the skilled trades as a whole, it 
is not important. The real Reserve of Boy Labour is an 
educational one, and is composed of those who are seeking 
education and training and not of those who are waiting 
for employment. 

A comparison of the two Reserves of Adult and Juvenile 
Labour will perhaps most clearly explain my meaning. 
The former may be described as follows. Different firms 
in a trade employ a number of men which varies from day 
to day, whilst each of them tends to be busy and slack on 
different days. If, therefore, as is usually the case, they 
do not get their less regular workers from a common source, 
each firm attempts to attach to itself a supply of men 
sufficient and even more than sufficient for its maximum 
requirements. Hence the number seeking work is often 
greater than can find employment even on the busiest day, 
and some are unemployed more frequently than they are 
employed. For instance, suppose ten firms require each 
a number of men that varies from 50 to 100, then if each 
gets its own absolutely independently of the others, they 
will have altogether 1,000 men in attendance on them, 
" either working or waiting for work " ; and as their busiest 
and slackest days never correspond, the whole number is 
never working on any one day. If, on the contrary, all the 
men were drawn from a single centre, both the maximum and 
minimum number would fall between these two extremes, 
being say 800 and 600 men respectively. Consequently 
on the busiest day there is only work for 800, but under 
existing conditions the full 1,000 are required. With care- 
ful organization, therefore, 200 of them could be dispensed 
with, but as things are, with each individual employer 
getting his own separate supply, they are necessary to 
enable all the work to be carried out. In practice, indeed, 
there is nearly always some interchange of labour between 
different firms, though not nearly as much as there might 


be, and so the reserve of labour is still considerable ; but if 
the work were properly organized, this reserve would become 
a surplus for which outlets would have to be found elsewhere. 

Similarly, in recruiting a trade, a certain number of boys 
are required to keep it up and to allow for any necessary 
increase in it, and also for wastage by death and in other 
ways. Now a Reserve of Boy Labour is found, when, in 
order to recruit it, more than the requisite number have to 
enter it. Under normal conditions, therefore, each trade 
tends to take enough learners to provide an adequate supply 
of workmen in the next generation ; and the actual 
number of boys necessary for this purpose corresponds to 
the men actually employed on the busiest day in the pre- 
vious illustration. This represents also the total capacity 
of a trade to absorb them and varies from one to another 
according to its rate of growth, the expectation of life of 
its members, and so on. 

Now if the methods of training and organization were 
perfect, just this number would be required, with a small 
allowance for deaths and unavoidable cases of failure. 
Actually under present conditions more, and sometimes 
many more, boys have to enter the trade, since otherwise 
sufficient journeymen will not be obtained. The cause of 
these numerous failures has already been described, and 
their number will be in proportion to the efficiency of 
methods of training. As with casual adult labour, there- 
fore, the additional boys ar^e a reserve and not a surplus, 
since under present conditions their attempted entry is 
necessary, and more have to try to learn the trade than 
could find regular employment at it if all succeeded, just 
as more casual labourers have to be seeking work than 
could possibly find it on any one day. 

This may perhaps be made clearer by a hypothetical 
illustration. A trade requires so many learners to keep up 
its supply of journeymen. Say, for instance, that the 
number is 105, and that, allowing for natural wastage, 1 100 

1 By this I mean such wastage as is caused by death, illness, 
accident, emigration and other unavoidable causes of failure. 


of them become journeymen. But a considerable propor- 
tion may fail to learn or to learn properly, and either leave 
the trade early, fail to find employment as men, or only 
obtain it when business is brisk and better men are not avail- 
able. Instead of 100 journeymen, therefore, the trade 
has only 100 less these failures. If, for instance, there are 
20 of them, then the 105 learners only make 80 instead 
of 100 journeymen, and to get the latter number, something 
like 130 learners will be needed. These figures are given 
purely by way of illustration and the size of the Reserve 
can seldom be so large as this. Often, however, it is con- 
siderable, and so long as it continues to be required, there 
must, even in the skilled trades, be a special problem of Boy 
Labour, and entry into one of them will be no necessary 
guarantee against growing up without an occupation. 

Compared with the Reserve of Adult Labour, indeed, 
this juvenile one is small. For one reason, the proportion 
of failures is more or less limited. Employers are not so 
careful to provide a reserve of boys as of men, simply waiting 
till the need arises. Then if those they have taken do 
not prove sufficient, more are engaged or provincial workers 
are got in. Nevertheless, the Reserve of Boy Labour is 
both a real and considerable one, and until the causes of 
Wasteful Recruiting are removed, the necessity of taking 
sufficient boys for all emergencies will continue, and those 
who fail to learn will have to be replaced. So long, there- 
fore, as our methods of recruiting produce a large proportion 
of failures, the number of boys required to enter a trade 
will be permanently in excess of the number that can get 
full employment at it. That is to say, modern conditions 
bring into the skilled branches of a trade more boys than 
can find that full employment in it as men, defining it for 
this purpose as such continuity of work as the general 
conditions of the trade, including its seasonal and other 
fluctuations, will permit. 

The same result, therefore, is reached as in ordinary Blind 
Alley employments. Each alike leaves a boy stranded 
in early manhood without full command of a definite occu- 


pation, and the only resource left either to the mechanic 
or the labourer is casual or low-paid work either within or 
without his trade. The trouble, however, is not so much 
that existing methods of recruiting cause more boys to 
enter a trade than it can permanently absorb. This is but 
a part of the evil, and, if they could be made to leave it 
before it is too late, but a small part. Indeed some boys only 
find the right trade after sampling two or three others. The 
chief trouble, on the contrary, is either that they stay too 
long in trades to which they are unsuited, until, that is, it 
is too late to find another, or that they never stick to 
any but continually chop and change and so learn nothing. 

In conclusion, the elements of which this Reserve of 
Boy Labour is composed may be shortly described. First 
there are those who drop out altogether from their various 
trades. Some do so after one or two years, and others 
nearer the time when they reach manhood, whilst yet others 
are forced out by stress of competition after they have 
reached it ; and further there is a stream of boys continually 
entering and leaving them. Secondly, some who are able 
to continue in a trade after reaching manhood, have such 
an inadequate knowledge of it as to form a fringe of casual 
workers whom it is only worth an employer's while to 
employ during busy times, or for a few days a week as odd 
men ; and either lack of ability, failure to stick properly 
to the work, or the desire for immediate high earnings, may 
produce this result. 

Thirdly, instead of a smaller body of fully trained 
mechanics being regularly employed, a larger number who 
are partially trained are engaged for parts of the year only. 
This is sometimes the fate of the over-specialized workman. 
In various trades different products are in brisk demand 
at different periods of the year, and trade is busy in one 
article and slack in another. Hence a man who can only 
make one thing well, is kept during its busy season, but as 
another comes into demand, some one else, who is equally 
specialized, is taken on to make it, whilst an all-round man 
would simply be shifted from one job to another and em.. 


ployed continuously. In short, the work is in this case 
spread out among a larger number of workmen who are 
employed regularly for a large part of the year, but unem- 
ployed for the rest four men, say, work for nine months 
each instead of three men for the whole twelve. 

Fourthly, Wasteful Recruiting sometimes produces in 
a trade a class of low-paid but regularly employed workmen. 
Setting aside those who can only do certain of the roughest 
kinds of work, like the men who are paid about 4^. an hour 
to paper up furniture previous to its going to the polishers, 
there are others who can do a job throughout, but their out- 
put is so poor in quantity or quality that they only get and 
are only worth inferior wages. Thus in cabinet making 
or upholstery, the labour cost of an article is estimated and 
a. man is paid according to the time he takes to make it. 1 
Hence where each man's output is small, more men are 
needed to get a given amount of work done, and the reserve 
of labour takes this form. 

Moreover, the growth of these classes of workers not 
only creates a reserve directly, but indirectly also by its effect 
on the methods of employment. Often, both in London 
and elsewhere, the choice between the regular employment 
of fully competent men and the less regular employment of 
those who are not, is largely a question of supply. In most 
trades both methods are open to the employer, who may 
be in a position either to regularize his work and keep good 
men steadily occupied, or to casualize it ; and which is the 
more profitable process may be determined by the quality 
of the labour available. If business is brisk and there is 
an adequate supply of good men, regularization is likely. 
Where, however, Wasteful Recruiting provides a large 
reserve of inferior or not fully competent hands, especially / 
if this is accompanied by some shortage of really good men/ 
casualization follows for the purpose of making the most 

1 Say, for instance, the Labour Cost of upholstering a certain 
kind of chair is estimated at IDS., then a man who will undertake 
to do it in ten hours will be paid is. per hour, in twelve hours iod., 
in fifteen hours 8d., in twenty hours 6d., and so on. 


profitable use of the labour supply. As a result both the 
Reserve of Labour and its irregular training tend to in- 
crease and perpetuate themselves. 

To sum up, therefore, the Reserve of Boy Labour is not 
confined to those who, in the course of learning it, are com- 
pelled to leave a trade. It is composed in part of them, 
and partly consists of the greater number of men who are 
required to do the work when they are not properly 
trained. Its size must not be exaggerated, but when all 
its elements are added together, it constitutes, in many 
trades, a problem of considerable gravity. 

One special point remains to be considered. It has been 
stated that when a boy drops out of a trade, another has 
to be taken to fill his place, and similar allowance has to 
be made in order to provide a sufficient number of those who 
are only fit for casual or irregular work. This is the usual 
course of events, though, in rare cases, an insufficient supply 
of fresh labour may cause a shortage of it. Taking the 
country as a whole, this view holds good, but in London the 
provincial influx complicates the matter. Instead of 
engaging other boys to replace those who fail, London em- 
ployers frequently get in men from elsewhere, many of them 
indeed relying mainly on provincials, and take very few 
learners ; but it is only the source of supply that is altered, 
and neither the waste nor the reserve of boys is appreciably 
diminished, though the number of good openings may be. 
Moreover, the causes that produce this waste still further 
increase this preference for and reliance on provincial work- 
men, and reduce the opportunities for advancement of the 
London boy. 

The causes and results of Wasteful Recruiting have been 
treated mainly in relation to the skilled trades, but are 
also at work upon unskilled boy labour, though here they 
are perhaps best regarded as an incident of Blind Alley 
employment. In the former these causes include defective 
methods of teaching, wrong selection of a trade, restlessness 
and lack of steadiness. In the latter there is little or no 
teaching, little or nothing to look forward to, and both 


responsibility and foresight are at a minimum. Employers 
complain that they cannot keep their boy labourers, and 
this " obscures from them the fact that they are using a 
greater number than can be employed in their trade as 
men." Continual movement from firm to firm creates a 
reserve of labour in the group of Blind Alleys taken as a 
whole, and also involves many lads in longer or shorter 
spells of unemployment, whilst some employers have diffi- 
culty in getting boys. Now many boys' jobs are themselves 
steady and regular, and a smaller number might quite well 
suffice to do the work of them ; but as it is, a Reserve 
inevitably grows up. 


It may now be advisable to sum up very briefly the main 
features of the Problem of Boy Labour, as it has presented 
itself in the preceding pages. The term, we have seen, is 
used in two senses : to indicate first those jobs which con- 
tinue throughout boyhood and youth but no longer ; 
and secondly, to signify the failure of a lad's work in 
any capacity to qualify him for any occupation at all. 
Further, Boy Labour often creates what I have called 
the Blind Alley character, the presence of which causes boys 
to grow up without steady, regular and disciplined habits ; 
and this is the result of the conditions under which they 
are occupied during youth. 

Boy Labour, moreover, falls into three main classes, 
First, there are the Blind Alleys proper, which fail to provide 
permanently for the great majority of their boys, and which, 
unless definite steps are taken to prevent it, leave them at 
a loose end about the age of eighteen. Usually the job is 
of a low-skilled character. Such employment is most 
common in distributive work, but there are also numerous 
Productive Blind Alleys, in the shape of trades or branches 
of trades which are carried out mainly by juvenile labour. 
Some Blind Alleys are directly injurious in their effect, 
either physically or morally ; others produce their evil 
results indirectly in the creation of bad habits, and because 


they themselves lead to nothing, and therefore do not of 
themselves give a lad any definite objective. The resulting 
difficulties can be dealt with best by thorough organization 
and the provision of continued education specially adapted 
to the needs of those concerned. 

Secondly, Partial Blind Alleys are mainly skilled employ- 
ments, and provide a definite livelihood for a large propor- 
tion of those who enter them. To the rest they prove a 
Blind Alley. Some of them are trades in which each man 
works with a mate or assistant, and where many of the 
latter are boys, some of them have to leave the business. 
In others, numerous causes combine to produce a moderate 
excess of young workers. Generally speaking, those affected 
are far less numerous than in the first case, but are in some 
respects little less difficult to deal with. The chief dangers 
are either that the superfluous boys will remain in, and over- 
stock, the trade instead of leaving it, or that capable lads, 
failing to rise, will remain mates all their lives. Again, 
the remedy consists of careful organization, and if possible, 
the adoption of a policy of definitely recognizing certain 
persons as learners. 

Thirdly, there is the problem of Wasteful Recruiting. 
This is, perhaps, most important in connexion with skilled 
labour. Many workmen who enter an occupation, either 
fail to learn it altogether, or learn so incompletely as never 
to get more than irregular work at it. At its worst it causes 
a considerable Reserve of Boy Labour to enter and try to 
learn a trade, in order that a much smaller number of 
skilled and competent men may be trained. This problem 
is, indeed, a very wide one, and its solution raises in one 
way or another almost every question of importance con- 
nected with Industrial Training. 

Thus, Boy Labour may be divided into three classes : 
Blind Alley Trades, Partial Blind Alleys, and the results 
of Wasteful Recruiting. In the first two the problem 
is primarily that there is nothing to learn, and in the third 
it consists of failure to learn what there is to learn. But in 
all three the real difficulty is that lads do not acquire or 


master some definite trade or occupation, and the Blind 
Alley itself is a problem, not so much because it leads directly 
to no employment in manhood, as because the boys whom 
it employs fail to prepare themselves for anything else 
after they leave it. 




(a) The Influence of the Long Period Demand for Labour. 

i. On the Other Causes of Unemployment, 
ii. On Boy Labour and Industrial Training. 

(b) The Existing State of Employment. 

i. Among Men. 
ii. Among Boys. 

Importance of Connection between Training and Unemployment- 
Different Views of the Influence of the former on the latter 
Insufficient Importance attached to Demand Definition of 

I. Influence of Industrial Training upon Unemployment. 

The Substitution of Methods : its Influence Blind Alley 
Employment does not of itself produce Unemployment in 
manhood Real Cause of Trouble consists of failure to acquire 
good industrial habits Results of this Tendency to increase 
irregular employment of boys Summary of influence of un- 
skilled boy labour in producing adult unemployment Good 
Training favours regularization Effect of Excess of unskilled 
boy labour checks growth of skilled trades, and favours that 
of less skilled This further increases the irregularity In- 
fluence of the Specialized Mechanic Effect in checking Demand 
for Labour Direct and Indirect Special Difficulty in London 
owing to Provincial Influx. 

Influence of Training on the Other Chief Causes of Unemploy- 
ment, and particularly on Periodic Fluctuations Its Influence 
on the way in which these are met. 

Extent to which Good Methods of Training can prevent or 
mitigate Unemployment. 

II. The Influence of Unemployment on Industrial Training. 
A . The Influence of Long Period Demand for Labour. 

(i) On the Other Causes of Unemployment. 

The Waste of Labour Its Meaning Total and Partial 
Waste Waste on a Large Scale involves an ample supply of 
Labour Relation of the Demand for Labour to Seasonal 
Fluctuation, to Cyclical Variations, to General Irregularity 



of Employment, to Changes in Fashion and Methods of Pro- 
duction Summary, 
(ii) On Boy Labour and Industrial Training. 

Influence of Defective Demand appears in two directions 
Waste of Boy Labour Its form Boys who grow up without 
an occupation Wasteful Use in all kinds of work Casualiza- 
tion of Boys' Work Creation of Boys' jobs to utilize the 
Supply Waste in Skilled Trades Concluding Summary. 
B. The Existing State of Employment. 
(i) Among Men. 

Ample Supply of Labour in recent years View that exist- 
ence of reserves not due to Defective Demand Recent State 
of Employment - Views of Poor Law Commission The Trade 
Union Percentages High Figures during the last decade (1901- 
1910) Smaller Increase in Bad Years Influence of Increase 
in Short Time Increase in Superannuated Members Evidence 
of a Growth in Unemployment during Good Years The Case 
of 1906-7 The State of Employment in 1912-3 does not 
support this view 'Unemployment and Unskilled Labour 
Dock Labour in London and Liverpool Conclusion. 
(ii) Among Boys. 

Evidence of surplus of boys seeking skilled work in London 
and of shortage of openings for them Little difficulty in get- 
ting boys Evidence from other towns also suggests a surplus, 
though a smaller one. 

Evidence less definite regarding unskilled boy labour 
Some evidence of a deficiency of boys, but more to support 
the view that there is a sufficiency or even a surplus of them 
Shortage, if any, is almost entirely confined to the Blind 
Alleys It is probably due to lack of organization rather than 
lack of boys. 

III. Concluding Summary. Influences exerted by Industrial Train- 
ing and the Demand for Labour are inter-dependent, as are 
their results Both, therefore, must be dealt with and not one 

The relation of Industrial Training to Unemployment is 
rendered more important by the close connexion that exists 
between them. In some respects, indeed, they are indepen- 
dent of one another, but in many others their mutual in- 
fluence is considerable. The character and quality of the 
teaching of boys largely affects their employment as men, 
whilst in its turn the general relations between the demand 
for, and the supply of, labour influence, for good or evil, 
the methods by which they are trained. 

One school of thought, indeed, attributes adult unemploy- 
ment largely to the employment of juveniles in Blind Alleys, 


to the character and habits produced by such employment, 
and to its failure to fit them for more permanent occupa- 
tions. " We regard," says the Minority Report of the Poor 
Law Commission, " this perpetual recruitment of the 
unemployable by tens of thousands of boys, who through 
neglect to provide them with suitable industrial training 
may almost be said to graduate into unemployment as a 
matter of course, as perhaps the gravest of all the grave facts 
that the Commission has laid bare." Adequate allowance, 
however, is not always made by those holding this view for 
the influence of demand and supply. Failure to acquire any 
definite occupation may be due largely to the fact that 
the number of permanent places is not sufficient. For 
this reason alone, therefore, some boys may in manhood 
have to swell the surplus of casual, unskilled labour. 

An opposite view regards the influences that lead to un- 
employment as operating to a great extent independently 
of Industrial Training, so that the character of the latter 
decides less whether a man shall be unemployed or not, 
than upon which man shall fall the unemployment that is 
produced by other causes. This, with certain reservations, 
is the line taken by no less an authority than Mr. W. H. 
Beveridge. Criticizing the contention that Blind Alley 
employment is "an important, or the most important, 
cause of unemployment in later life," he declares that in 
several respects such an inference is over-hasty. 1 Summing 
up, he says : 

" The improvement of Industrial Training, like every other 
increase of efficiency, must raise the general level of prosperity. 
Its direct value as a remedy for unemployment is somewhat 
limited. It cannot touch the causes of industrial fluctuation 
or in practice prevent casual employment. . . . There is 
needed beyond question to-day a revival ... of the principle 
underlying apprenticeship, that . . . every youthful worker 
whilst being employed should also be undergoing preparation 
for a future career. The disregard of this principle, though it 
does not create casual employment, undoubtedly facilitates it 
by helping to swell the supply of unskilled labour." 2 

1 Unemployment : A Problem of Industry, p. 127. 

2 Ibid., p. 131. 


Moreover, the influence of partially trained workers in 
increasing irregularity in the skilled trades is often consider- 
able ; whilst the industrial qualities of the workmen have 
seri'ous effects in promoting or retarding the success of one 
town or country in competition with others, and sometimes 
alter for better or worse the development of individual trades. 

Neither view, however, attaches quite sufficient import- 
ance to an influence which may be described briefly as 
that of the Demand of Labour, or, to be more exact, of the 
relation that exists over a period of years between the 
Demand and the Supply. Provision for an increasing 
population can only be made by means of such an expan- 
sion in industry as will provide the necessary employment, 
and so the relation that exists between Demand and Supply 
over a long period may have very important effects. Demand 
may increase more rapidly than Supply : it may increase at 
the same rate or it may fail to increase so fast ; and in either 
case an influence will be exerted upon employment which is 
in addition to, and to some extent independent of, that which 
springs from the periodic fluctuations of trade. Hence 
the expression Demand for Labour will, for the sake of 
brevity, be used in this chapter to denote this relation between 
Demand and Supply. When, therefore, it is said to be 
" good " or " bad," " brisk " or " dull," " ample " or " de- 
fective," the meaning is that in one case there is enough 
employment to occupy fully the whole supply of labour 
and that in the other the amount is insufficient to do this. 
In this sense, moreover, the Demand for Labour affects the 
extent and character of the unemployment that is the 
result of other causes, and helps to produce or mitigate 
defects in Industrial Training. 

Two vital questions, therefore, have to be asked and, 
if possible, answered in the present chapter. First, how 
far does Industrial Training or the lack of it affect the amount 
and regularity of employment ? Secondly, how does the 
Demand for Labour, as defined, affect the character of 
Industrial Training by rendering necessary greater or less 
care in teaching the workmen ? Each of these influences will 



be found to be considerable, and they react upon one 
another. We may first consider the former. 


It is sometimes assumed that in many, if not in all, 
industries, practically only one method of production and 
training is possible, and that, therefore, skilled, or at least 
adequately trained, workmen are a necessity to them. 
Starting from this hypothesis, therefore, it is argued that 
employers in their own interest will be compelled to teach, 
and to teach properly, a sufficient number to keep up their 
trade. Were this reasoning sound, indeed, the influence 
of Industrial Training would determine only which men 
should be unemployed, and not whether a man should be 
unemployed or not. In practice its influence is often very 
much greater and helps to determine the amount as well as 
the incidence of Unemployment. 

The cause which brings about this result may be 
described as the Substitution of Methods. Employers 
in many cases are able to choose between having 
their business carried out by skilled mechanics, dividing 
it up among a number of less skilled hands, or even 
replacing adult men altogether by women, boys or 
girls. Hence fully skilled workmen are not an absolute 
necessity, and, if enough of them are not forthcoming, 
methods of production can be adapted to the labour supply. 
Again, qualities of work are often in competition with one 
another, whilst the grade of labour employed varies with 
the quality. So a large supply of those who are low-skilled 
or badly taught may cause lower grade goods to form a 
bigger proportion of the whole output. Similarly different 
trades are competing for the supply of labour, and where a 
large amount of it is of poor quality, a stimulus will be given 
to the development of those in which this can be utilized 
to the best advantage. 

The mere fact of putting boys to Blind Alley work does 
not in itself produce unemployment in manhood. A 


considerable number of them must eventually content 
themselves with low-skilled jobs, since the skilled, and the 
higher grades of semi-skilled, trades cannot find room for all. 
So boy labourers, apart from those who are waiting for 
better positions, will in time become adult labourers, 
though they have often to make a change from one thing 
to another. Hence the fact that they start life in a Blind 
Alley is not itself the cause of their unemployment, and 
this cause has therefore to be sought for elsewhere. 

Now the greater specialization of the present day requires 
even of the lowest grades a certain modicum of knowledge 
and capacity, and that they should be regular and disciplined 
workmen. In short, there is less room now than formerly 
for the absolutely unskilled man. But habits of regularity 
and discipline are just what the ordinary boy labourers often 
do not acquire. On the contrary, they grow up casual and 
irregular, and thus unfitted both physically and mentally 
for regular employment of any kind. 1 In short, many of them 
have become permeated with what in a previous chapter 
I called the Blind Alley character. They know nothing, 
not even how to work steadily ; and this is the real reason 
for their lack of success later on. Moreover the quality 
of much of their labour is very poor even during boyhood. 
" Boy labour," says Mr. Cyril Jackson, " can seldom be said 
to be really efficient. When boys leave school they are 
too young and unformed in character to give steady appli- 
cation to their work, and some employers say they lose 
more by the character of their boys than they gain by their 
cheapness." 2 

Hence as a result of these influences a low grade of labour 
grows up and employers in their turn are less ready and 
able to take trouble to push on those whose capacities, 
do not justify promotion and many of whom do not stick 
to their job long enough to make it possible. Thus as boys 

1 Not so much in the sense that they could not take regular jobs, 
if such were offered them, as that they would not prove themselves 
good workmen in them, especially at first. 

2 Report on Boy Labour. Poor Law Commission. Appendix XX, 
P- 13- 


are themselves continually moving out of one thing into 
another, their employment becomes .casual and irregular 
even in their earliest years. A good deal of time is lost 
between jobs, and these intervals grow longer and more 
frequent as they grow older. 

The tendency, therefore, to employ a larger number 
irregularly rather than a smaller number regularly, though 
less marked than with men, is considerable, and is probably 
increasing. Moreover the demand for boy labourers is 
often far keener than the demand for learners, and so attracts 
them from learning to labouring. Thus excessive numbers 
enter those occupations which are least permanent, and 
they in their turn, when they grow up, of necessity over- 
stock the market for adult unskilled labour and render it 
more irregular and casual than it otherwise would have 
been. In other words the surplus of the latter is due mainly 
to the facts that more boys than are required to do the 
work enter Blind Alley employments in the first place, and 
that others whilst in them fit themselves for nothing better. 
Its irregular character also is largely the result of in- 
fluences that have been at work during this time. In the 
skilled trades, too, similar causes are producing similar 

Unemployment of this origin is probably far more frequent 
and far more severe than that created by an agency which 
bulks much more largely in the public view namely, the 
direct displacement of men by boys. The amount so pro- 
duced is, as a rule, much exaggerated, though in individual 
cases it may be considerable. Single processes are usually 
affected and not whole trades. Such displacement too is 
often part of a general extension of specialization and is 
accompanied eventually by an expansion of the trade that 
in the end increases its demand both for men and boys. 
Temporary displacement, indeed, there often is, but the 
amount of it that is permanent is not very considerable. 

To sum up, therefore, the conditions under which unskilled 
boy labour works are responsible for much unemployment 
among adult men. First the excessive numbers so em- 


ployed, reinforced by those who for various reasons fall 
out of skilled industries, overstock the unskilled labour 
market and create conditions leading to irregular employ- 

Secondly, the resulting defects of character unfit many 
for steady and regular work, or, at least, leave them either 
with no particular job to which they can turn their hand, 
or, if they do know one job, with their powers so little 
developed as to render them quite incapable of adapting 
themselves to anything else if this should fail them. 

Further, the result of the competition between the more 
and the less regular methods of employment depends largely 
on the number and competence of the workmen available. 
Regularization is likely to be profitable where the men are 
steady, disciplined and competent, each in his own business, 
and especially where the supply of them is not more than 
sufficient for the demand. Casual and irregular employ- 
ment requires a larger number to accomplish a given output 
than do more regular methods, and the quality of their 
work is somewhat less important. Now the conditions 
just considered do provide an ample supply of labour, much 
of it of poor quality, and so favour the adoption of the 
latter system rather than the former. 

This excess of boy labour, however, does not appear, at 
any rate in London, to produce directly a shortage of 
mechanics, partly because of the- possibility of obtaining 
them from other places. Indeed in the skilled trades, 
whilst men may be difficult to obtain in one or two dis- 
tricts, defective methods produce more than a sufficiency of 
skilled labour, though there may be a shortage of really 
good men. Indirectly, however, owing to the substitution 
which has been described, it appears to retard their growth. 
The development of industries and the investment of 
capital in them depends largely on the men available. Now 
Blind Alley Employments and Wasteful Recruiting cause 
so many of them to be unskilled or inadequately trained 
as to make for the more rapid development of those in- 
dustries which require and utilize a low r er level of skill. 


The result, therefore, has not been to check the higher 
branches directly by creating a shortage of men in them, 
but indirectly by encouraging the investment of capital 
in these inferior grades. 

Moreover, the methods prevailing in many skilled indus- 
tries have created or increased unemployment in them, 
much in the same way that the conditions of Blind Alley work 
have done among unskilled workers. The result of what 
has been called Wasteful Recruiting has been to compel 
more boys to enter, or to try to enter, a trade than could 
find full employment at it if they were all successful. Hence 
it comes to possess a Reserve of Boy Labour. Some leave 
it altogether and so further increase the excess of unskilled. 
Others grow up partially trained mechanics who can only 
_ obtain, and may only be fit to obtain, casual or otherwise 
irregular employment. Now, because of this, more of 
them are required than if well-trained men were engaged 
and kept on regularly, whilst the supply of them is often 
very ample indeed, and even in excess of these require- 
ments. Further, not only do existing methods encourage 
casualization generally, they also, as just stated, cause the 
cheaper and inferior branches to be developed at the expense 
of the more skilled in order to utilize the available labour 
to the best advantage. Hence in skilled work bad methods 
of training produce unemployment in two ways : by making 
it more profitable to casualize than to regularize, where either 
alternative is open, and by encouraging those branches in 
which, in any case, employment is likely to be least regular. 

For it must not be forgotten that the lower the grade of 
work, the greater is likely to be the irregularity, especially 
with an ample supply of labour. Good men are often 
scarce, and with a high-class output it may be worth while 
to make considerable sacrifices to keep them. With the 
inferior qualities, this is less necessary. The men are more 
easily replaced, there are more of them to select from, and 
far from making efforts to retain them, employers may 
even be glad to get rid of the less efficient as early as possible. 

Similar effects result from the production of the incom- 


pletely-trained specialized mechanics who can do only part 
of a trade well. Certain trades are busy on different articles 
at different seasons of the year. Hence the all-round man 
is at work throughout, first on one thing, then on another, 
but the specialized worker must wait for employment 
until his particular branch is busy. So a class of men grows 
up who are employed, not indeed casually, but regularly 
for a portion of the year only. Likewise where a change in 
demand requires a different class of article, the latter are 
far more likely to be displaced. Finally, the substitution 
of female or juvenile labour is likely to be most considerable 
where that of the adult men is of an inferior quality. In 
these ways, therefore, bad methods of training increase the 
amount of casual and irregular employment, and are apt to 
do so even more than in proportion to the increase in the 
number who are competing for it. 

Moreover, in the last resort regular employment depends 
on whether the Demand for Labour can keep pace with the 
Supply, and its failure to do this may be an important cause 
of unemployment. Thus the effect of Industrial Training 
on the development not only of particular trades but of the 
National Industry as a whole is important. For it helps 
directly to raise or lower cost of production. The better 
and more skilled a workman is, the larger and the cheaper 
will be his product. Well- trained workmen, therefore,, 
are relatively cheap, and badly trained workmen propor- 
tionally dear ; and where the latter are numerous, cost is 
increased, manufacturers are less able to compete with 
foreign rivals, or are deterred from developing their business 
by fear that sufficient skilled labour may not be forthcom- 
ing. Thus the progress ofa trade may be checked. Manu- 
facturers may be vainly seeking for competent workmen 
whom they cannot find, whilst men are unemployed because 
they are not sufficiently skilled for the purpose, and so 
a shortage of really good men may accompany a general 

Indirectly, too the production of inefficient workers 
checks industry. Those who are poorly trained are also 


poorly paid, either because their rate of pay is low or because 
their employment is not regular. But low earnings mean 
low purchasing power and a smaller demand for the pro- 
ducts of other industries, so that the development of the 
latter is retarded. Hence when bad methods of training 
are general the aggregate national demand is correspondingly 
reduced, and this affects not only those immediately con- 
cerned, but almost every trade and every class. 

In London, moreover, the common practice of obtaining 
from outside men who have already learnt their business, 
renders possible an unusually large waste of boy labour, 
since any shortage can be made good in this way ; and 
on the other hand, the difficulties of training, and the inferior 
industrial quality of many after they have been trained, cause 
employers to rely more and more on the provincial supply. 
So the influx leads to worse methods of teaching in London, 
and these in their turn encourage and increase the influx. 
Thus the openings that exist for London boys are not all 
fully utilized, and the reserve both of skilled and unskilled 
is still further enlarged. 

So far bad methods have been shown to influence directly 
the amount of unemployment. Many of its chief causes, 
however, come to exist independently of the quality of Indus- 
trial Training, but even these can be, and are, aggravated 
or mitigated by it. They fall into four classes Seasonal 
Variations in employment within the year, Long Period or 
Cyclical Variations over a number of years, General Irregu- 
larity and Casual Labour, and the Displacement brought 
about by Changes in Demand or in Methods of Production. 

Of these the first is due largely to climatic and social 
influences, and the second to general causes affecting often 
the whole world, and both will exist whatever the character 
of the teaching that is given. Similarly the last cause is 
to a great extent inseparable from the progress of industry. 

Again, the present organization of labour often necessi- 
tates a considerable amount of casual and irregular employ- 
ment, if it is to be carried out efficiently upon existing lines. 
Here, however, the connexion between training and unern- 


ployment is far closer. The present chapter has already 
attempted to show how defective methods may increase and 
largely create casual employment both in skilled and un- 
skilled trades. This they do by producing a supply of 
labour which does not possess habits of steady and regular 
work, and which therefore an employer does not find it 
profitable to employ continuously. This influence fre- 
quently makes casualization necessary. Moreover the 
supply of such labour is often ample compared with the 
demand and so makes casualization profitable. Hence 
casual labour becomes more common than the needs of 
industry require, and those branches which utilize it most 
freely are the most rapidly developed. Improved methods 
on the other hand by making better workmen make it 
more worth while to regularize their employment. At the 
same time they lower cost of production and increase the 
demand for labour, and so further encourage regulariza- 

As regards Displacement, the influence of Training 
varies. A change of fashion may require a totally different 
kind of goods, and here a workman's capacity will make little 
difference, except that a well-trained man may prove himself 
more adaptable and so fit himself more readily for something 
fresh. With less fundamental alterations, however, its 
operation is far more direct. The good man is worth 
keeping and initiating into the new work, even at the cost of 
some trouble and expense. The inferior man will be put 
off at once and another taken in his place, or the employer 
may prefer to train a youth to do the work. Semi-skilled 
and unskilled workmen are chiefly affected in this way, 
since in the case of the mechanic the change often means a 
greater reduction in earnings than he is prepared to accept. 

With seasonal and cyclical depressions, again, industries 
and districts, in which the workpeople do not know their 
business well, compete at a disadvantage, whilst an im- 
provement in their capacity may so stimulate trade as to 
mitigate their force and extent and increase the briskness of 
good times. More overtime is worked when things are busy, 


and there is less short time or unemployment when they 
are slack. 

Moreover, Industrial Training exercises a still greater 
influence over the methods chosen to meet a depression. 
Where labour on the average is inefficient, dismissal of the 
less skilled hands takes place, whilst the better men are kept 
on, and the former are often got rid of at the earliest possible 
moment. Where, however, the level of skill is high, it is 
important to keep a good staff together and the employer 
uses every means in his power to do so. 

Here he has several alternatives. First the whole shop 
may be put on short time during slackness, and heavy 
pressure may be met as far as possible by overtime. The 
men thus share out whatever work is going. The second 
alternative is to make for stock in the slack season, the 
stocks being cleared during the busy period. This method is 
not uncommon in the Furniture Trades. It requires that the 
articles made shall be in constant demand, and if they are 
of a bulky character the cost of storage is apt to be prohibi- 
tive. Some firms utilize both devices at the same time. 
Thirdly, but less frequently, other kinds of goods are 
produced during the slack months. Lastly, where climatic 
or social influences make work inconvenient but not im- 
possible, effort and expense are incurred to regularize it 
and keep it going throughout the year. 

The adoption of these devices, therefore, is likely to 
depend on circumstances. On general grounds, regular 
employment is more profitable to the employer than casual. 
It creates good steady habits and makes the workmen 
more efficient, since they are better fed and have a higher 
standard of living. Whether, however, this will be suffi- 
cient to compensate for the trouble and expense of regulari- 
zation in fluctuating trades will depend, partly at least, 
on their skill and competence, and in doubtful cases this 
often turns the scale. Further, highly skilled labour usually 
requires regular conditions to do its best. Otherwise 
deterioration is apt to set in. Moreover, even apart from 
this, really good men are worth some effort to keep together, 


and a decent firm will recognize that it has a duty in this 
direction. 1 Where, however, the causes at work produce 
inferior hands and a surplus of them, the incentives to 
regularization are at their lowest. 

It is not suggested that good training can do more than 
mitigate such variations, but it does much to reduce them, 
and could do more, especially in relation to the shorter 
seasonal movements. The longer cyclical fluctuations are 
less amenable to the treatment described, though with them 
also employers will take a contract at a very low rate of 
profit in order to keep a good staff together. Demand, if 
brisk, may do even more to mitigate such seasonal and 
cyclical causes of unemployment, but training also operates 
by influencing it. Better training means more skilled 
and more efficient workmen, and so stimulates the very 
demand that is so important an element A general im- 
provement will have the effect of increasing earnings and, 
therefore, purchasing power in every trade. Finally, there 
will be less danger that employers, as sometimes happens 
now, will have to forego opportunities for extending their 
business owing to the difficulty of getting labour of a 
sufficiently high quality. 



It is now necessary to consider the matter from the 
opposite point of view, and to ask how the existence and 
amount of Unemployment influence Industrial Training, 
or to speak more broadly how is the latter affected by the 
general or long-period Demand for Labour. And here it 
may be well to repeat that this last phrase is used with an 

1 E.g., A large engineering firm informed me (in the autumn of 
1909) that they required the highest class of labour for their work 
of a kind that is always difficult to obtain, and their men could 
always command full money anywhere and at any time. Hence 
to keep their staff together they had not only to keep their men 
employed, but on full time in busy and slack seasons alike. They 
met the latter by making for stock which sometimes proved incon- 
venient, but had to be done. They had not worked short time since 


implied reference to Supply as well as to Demand, and that 
what is important is the relation between the two over a 
period of years. For the sake of brevity, however, Demand 
is referred to by itself rather than Demand and Supply, 
but it always has this relative sense. It may be said to be 
good or bad over a number of years when the amount of 
employment is, periodic fluctuations apart, either ample or 

A (i). The Influence of the Long-Period Demand for 
Labour on other Causes of Unemployment. 

In this sense, therefore, the Demand for Labour influ- 
ences greatly the degree and character of the Unemploy- 
ment that is found in a country. This influence indeed will 
depend mainly on the extent to which it renders possible 
the Waste of Labour, which may be briefly denned as follows. 

Under all conditions some men are likely to be found 
who are not fitted to perform definite work of any kind, 
but either have grown up without the ability to do so, 
or have lost that ability later. Consequently their labour 
may be said to be wasted because their faculties cannot be 
properly utilized. One instance of this is provided by the 
excessive number of boys who spend their youth in Blind 
Alley work, and another by the men whose skill is so 
deteriorated by unemployment that they sink eventually 
into the lowest grade of casual labour, or even into Unemploy- 
ableness. In its more extreme form, therefore, this Waste 
may be said to be Total, because the men concerned are in an 
industrial sense entirely lost to the community. There may 
also be Partial Waste, where a man's capacities are either 
not fully developed or not fully employed. For instance, 
the Reserve of Boy Labour brings into existence many 
imperfectly trained mechanics, who, as a result, are em- 
ployed casually, or for certain parts of the year only, working 
and standing idle alternately. 1 

1 An instance of failure to develop capacity fully can be found 
in the case of the able boy who starts work as a mate or assistant 
and failing to rise remains such all his life. Here, too, there is 


Now for such Waste, whether it be Total or Partial, to 
take place upon a large scale, some deficiency of Demand 
itself is a necessary preliminary. More men are needed 
to do the work, when labour is wasted than when it is 
economically employed, and if Waste is to be considerable, 
there must be a correspondingly ample supply of labour. 
Hence the influence of Demand is very great, for whilst it is 
impossible under any conditions to prevent it altogether, 
the amount of Waste will vary with the state of Demand over 
long periods, being small when it is good and correspond- 
ingly large when it is bad. Hence the possibility of Waste 
will be closely connected with the relations that exist 
between Demand and other causes of Unemployment. 

The development of industry has generally tended 
to reduce seasonal fluctuations, particularly where ex- 
pensive machinery is used which has to be kept run- 
ning, as regularly as possible. Demand, however, has 
a much more potent influence on their extent and 
character. In very busy years, indeed, they may almost 
disappear. In the South of England, for instance, 
seasonal slackness in the Building Trades is, apart from 
occasional heavy frosts, the result of convenience rather 
than necessity, building in winter involving greater care, 
trouble, and, in some cases, expense, but not being rendered 
impossible. Now during the last boom in the London 
Building Trades (1895-9), employers were so busy that 
work was going on regularly almost throughout the year. 
With a poor demand, on the contrary, such as has existed 
more recently, the slack season begins sooner and ends 
later : more men are put off, and they are put off earlier in the 
autumn and re-engaged later in the spring. Thus whilst in 
any case there may be slackness in December and January, 
it will depend on the general conditions of trade whether this 
extends over October, November and February. 

In like manner Demand will influence the adoption of 
the various alternatives to dismissal. When men are 
scarce and difficult to replace, employers have far greater 
inducement to avoid it, by working short time, by making 


for stock, and by the use of the other devices already de- 
scribed. When labour is relatively plentiful, they are less 
disposed to do so. Moreover, when things are brisk, orders 
are more likely to be spread as evenly as possible over the 
whole year, and when they are slack, to be concentrated into a 
few months. In England, however, during recent years, the 
general supply of labour in many trades has been nearly 
always sufficient, if not more than sufficient, for the demands 
of the busy season, so that casual employment has 
been more readily utilized. A strong demand over a long 
period would, on the other hand, mean short slack seasons, 
and the regularization of employment for the purpose of 
economizing the labour supply. 

Similarly the state of Demand can do much to mitigate 
or extend long- period or cyclical variations, though owing 
to their greater length its effect upon them may not always 
be so marked. A rapid expansion of it, however, will cause 
a depression to be both shorter and shallower. Thus the 
development of the Export Trade in machinery largely 
accounted for the comparatively low percentage of unem- 
ployment in the British Metal and Engineering Trades 
between 1902 and 1905. Sometimes, again, in a particular 
trade, district or country, manufacturers continue busy on 
old orders long after a general decline has set in. This 
happened, for instance, in some important industries in 
Germany during 1908. Similar reasons also cause recovery 
to come sooner, as in the English Motor and Cycle Trades in 

Brisk Demand may further affect these cyclical fluctua- 
tions, not only by reducing their extent, but by altering 
their effect on the workmen. A rapid expansion of pro- 
duction may necessitate so much overtime that the falling 
off when it comes may be met largely by a reversion to 
normal hours. Thus the report of the British Consul- 
General at Berlin for the year 1908 said : 

" This method of adjustment (i.e., the working of Short Time) 
to meet altered circumstances is all the easier to carry out because 
when trade was at its very best constant lack of well-trained and 


capable workmen compelled employers to lengthen the daily hours 
of labour in order to cope with the additional work." 

In other words, a steadily brisk demand over a long period 
may mean that a large amount of overtime is worked in 
good years and only a small amount of short time in bad 
ones. If, on the contrary, demand is consistently slack, the 
reverse will be the case. Short time will be freely utilized, 
overtime little or not at all. 

Finally, as with seasonal variations, Demand will also 
affect the adoption ' of various alternatives to dismissal 
and the taking of contracts at a low rate of profit will depend 
on two things : on whether business has previously been 
sufficiently good to justify this, and on whether labour is 
sufficiently scarce to make it worth while to keep the staff 
together until the return of good trade. Such influences are 
at best only sufficient to counteract partially the effects of 
a cyclical depression, but they can, nevertheless, mitigate 
them considerably, just as in the reverse case their absence 
can seriously intensify them. 

So much has been said about the third main cause of 
unemployment, namely general irregularity and casualiza- 
tion, that a few words will suffice here. The intervals 
between the bigger jobs are likely to be longer and more 
numerous when Demand is slack ; and whenever there is 
a choice between regular and irregular methods of employ- 
ment, the supply of labour is likely to be the determining 
factor, since it requires a larger number to do a given amount 
of work by means of the latter. Hence when labour is 
scarce, more effort is made to regularize it, and its wasteful 
employment is only really profitable when there is an ample 
supply and the employer can be sure of being able to get 
as much of it as he requires. 

Finally, there are the permanent changes in fashion or 
methods of production which accompany the progress 
of industry. When these destroy or largely reduce the 
market for the products or services of particular trades, a 
brisk general Demand can do little more than retard the 
resulting displacement of labour or make more easy its 


absorption in allied crafts which are not similarly affected. 
With the smaller changes, such as the introduction of new 
machines, however, employers will probably get in fresh 
men or train up youths for the purpose, when the supply is 
ample, and when it is not, they will try to adapt those they 
already have to the new processes. It all depends upon 
whether new men are easy to get. It is often said, indeed, 
that work is more specialized to-day than in the past and 
that each small process or each machine has its own special 
group of workmen, who are not as a rule transferred to any 
other. l If this is true, however, it illustrates the same point. 
The supply is sufficient to provide each group with as many 
as it requires and to render unnecessary their transfer from 
one to another. 

To sum up, therefore, the Demand for Labour affects 
first, not the existence, but the extent and intensity, of 
,the other causes that produce unemployment. The brisk- 
ness or slackness of Demand helps to determine the length 
and severity of cyclical and seasonal slackness, the amount 
of irregular and casual employment, and whether industrial 
changes shall involve permanent or only temporary dis- 
placement. Secondly, Demand influences the means and 
methods that are adopted to meet a shortage of employment. 
It affects the adoption of Short Time and making for stock 
as substitutes for dismissals, and, where there is a choice, 
helps to determine whether more or less regular methods of 
working are utilized, and whether men are adapted to new 
processes or displaced when they are introduced. Brisk 
Demand over a long period makes it necessary for employers 
to economize labour as much as possible and to keep their 
staff of men together by every means in their power, and 
so leads to better and more regular methods of employment. 
A slack demand has the opposite effect. 

1 E.g., A London Labour Exchange was 'asked upon one occasion 
to get a man to fill a certain position. Men of this type were scarce, 
and one was not obtained until the end of a fortnight. During 
the interval, however, the firm had put a man from another depart- 
ment to do the work. That is to say, men being scarce, it proved 
worth while to take the trouble to do this. 


A (ii). The Influence of the Long-Period Demand for 
Labour on Boy Labour and Industrial Training. 

Thus, so far as adult men are concerned, Long-Period 
Demand not only helps to intensify or mitigate the other 
causes that lead to Unemployment, but is itself at work 
to produce or to prevent Waste of Labour. It is, however, 
when juvenile workers and their training are considered 
that its effects in the latter direction are most marked ; and 
the meaning of the Principle of Waste can perhaps be illus- 
trated best by its operation in the case of Boy Labour. 

The general influence of a Defective Demand on Industrial 
Training is usually manifested in two different directions. 
It causes the skilled trades to take an inadequate share of the 
growing population, and so compels an unduly large pro- 
portion to enter and overcrowd the less skilled employments. 
Secondly, there will be Waste in all grades, because those 
who are spoilt in boyhood can very well be spared, and the 
fact that some grow up inferior workmen will be of less 
vital importance. 

Now, under any conceivable circumstances, there is bound 
to be some Waste of Boy Labour, since it will never be 
possible to avoid altogether industrial failures or misfits. 
These, however, can be reduced to a minimum. Not only 
so, but for Waste of Labour to take place upon a large scale, 
there must be labour to spare and to waste. For when it is 
spoilt or left untrained in boyhood, it means that it has no 
definite use to which it can be put in manhood. In other 
words, it can be spared from more regular employments, 
and Industry as a whole can dispense with its services ; 
and this can only happen if the Supply of labour exceeds 
the Demand, and as a result there is Labour to spare. That is 
to say, such Waste can only be serious if Demand is defective. 
If labour of any kind is scarce it will have to be economized ; 
if it is not, it will be possible to waste it, and it will be wasted. 
Thus a slack of Demand over a period of years is a power- 
ful cause of Waste, and such Waste will take various forms. 
One of its results consists of the large number of boys who 

. FF 


grow up without trade or occupation of any kind. An 
example of this is given in the following quotation from the 
Minority Report of the Poor Law Commission : 

" It has been demonstrated beyond dispute that an increasing 
number of boys are employed in occupations which are either 
uneducative (in the sense of producing no increase of efficiency 
or intelligence) or unpromising (in the sense of leading to no 
permanent occupation during adult life)." 

This again bears out the contention that such over- 
employment of boys as there is, is over-employment of 
boy labourers, and that it is accompanied by under-employ- 
ment of boy learners. Again, the same report says in the 
words already quoted : 

" We regard this perpetual recruitment of the unemployable 
by tens of thousands of boys who, through neglect to provide 
them with suitable industrial training, may almost be said to 
graduate into unemployment as a matter of course, as perhaps 
the gravest of all the grave facts the Commission has laid bare." 

But for this graduation to take place on a large scale, 
industry as a whole must be able to spare those who grow 
up with their capacities undeveloped. At the present 
day it can, or does, afford to do without them, both 
as boys and as men. It is true that when trade becomes 
really good, it is not always possible to obtain enough fully 
qualified workmen to make the best of it, but the effect is 
never sufficiently serious and palpable to induce employes 
to remove its cause. The evil results are there that is 
generally granted ; and one of its chief causes is the ample 
supply of labour, both of boys and men. This limits 
the proportion who can be taken as learners and increases 
that which is available for jobs which give employment 
during boyhood and " turn them adrift at manhood." 

Further, such a shortage in Demand is likely to lead to a 
wasteful use of boy labour in jobs of all kinds, both skilled 
and unskilled, and in the former to cause many to grow up 
only knowing parts of their trade, or not fully masters of it, 
and they too will be wasted, because they too can be spared, 
One of two results therefore will follow. Either no training 


at all is given, or bad and wasteful methods are encouraged. 
Instead of careful teaching, or what is often more important, 
regular and constant discipline, a boy is left to take his 
chance and " pick up " something for himself as best he 

As regards unskilled work, this again will have two 
results the one following from the other. First, in spite of 
all the Waste that goes on, an ample supply of boys is left 
to fill the less permanent jobs. Secondly, these in their 
turn grow up into unskilled adults and form that growing 
surplus of them which is so often the great problem of a 
large town. 

These causes in their turn lead to the creation or exten- 
sion of fresh forms of boys' work in order to utilize to the 
very best advantage the existing supply of them. The dis- 
placement of men by boys is rendered easier, and the work 
of boys and men is separated and specialized. Now in 
many ways, as Mr. Jackson has pointed out, the labour 
of boys is not really efficient, but when large numbers 
are available, it is easier and more profitable to make 
extensive use of them. Where, on the contrary, they are 
scarcer, or the demand for learners is greater, a larger propor- 
tion is drawn into skilled or permanent jobs, and they are 
more difficult to get and to keep for other purposes and have 
to be more economically used. Thus the creation of new 
Blind Alleys is checked. 

Again, the growth in the amount of unskilled labour, 
whether juvenile or adult, leads the trades which employ 
such labour to develop at the expense of the more skilled 
industries. Where these trades employ mainly adult 
labour, the result is a change in the character of the em- 
ployment, a larger proportion of the population entering 
low-skilled work. Where, however, they . employ mainly 
juvenile labour, the result is to decrease proportionally the 
work available for adults, and at the same time to attract 
boys away from skilled and permanent occupations and 
still further hinder the growth of the latter. 

Finally, increased waste of boys and men is inevitable 


so long as the supply of labour continues to be ample. 
Employment grows more and more casual and the boys 
become casualized as well as the men. Thus an employer 
has little inducement to keep them when things are slack, 
or to prevent them moving of their own accord ; and they 
themselves, with no particular prospects and nothing to 
keep them in any one place, lose all idea of sticking to a 
job and so all steadiness. Instead of growing up regular and 
disciplined if unskilled workmen, they grow up fit only for 
the sort of casual labour which the general conditions are 

Similar results are likely to be found in the skilled trades. 
A large available supply helps very much the growth of a 
Reserve of Boy Labour, composed as described of those who 
enter trades and fail either to learn them at all or to learn 
them properly. Hence the Waste that goes on in skilled 
work is also large. Less regular methods are adopted which 
are calculated to spoil many, and that they are adopted is 
due to the numbers, both of boys and men, who are 
nearly always available. 

To sum up, therefore, a slack or insufficient Demand can 
largely accentuate the Problems of Boy Labour. This it 
does, first, by rendering possible a large amount of waste, 
since the labour market can afford it and the employer can 
more safely take his chance of there being enough competent 
men. Secondly, this waste creates a Reserve of Boy Labour, 
which grows into a reserve of casual adults, both skilled 
and unskilled. Thirdly, it increases directly the surplus 
of unskilled workmen by reducing the openings for learners ; 
and finally, all these things in their turn encourage and 
perpetuate irregular methods both of employment m and ' 
training. On the other hand, a strong Demand would leave 
little labour to spare, and would thus tend to bring about 
at least a considerable improvement in methods of training. 

B (i). The Existing State of Employment in Great 

Britain : Among Men. 
Qn general principles, therefore, it appears that, both 


among men and boys, a Defective Demand for Labour over 
a long period is likely to bring about Waste of Labour and 
to increase casual employment. On the other hand, a con- 
sistently Brisk Demand favours regular methods and reduces 
Waste to a minimum. It only remains to inquire, therefore, 
into the existing conditions of employment in Great Britain 
and into their industrial results. 

Now in recent years the relation of the Demand for 
Labour to the Supply of it appears to have been that, apart 
from occasions of exceptional prosperity, the amount 
available is always ample, and even more than ample, for 
the purposes for which it is required. It is not, perhaps, 
quite true to say that there is a surplus of labour, because 
under existing methods of employment the whole supply 
is required for some purpose or other. But there is more 
than enough of it to permit the free use of the more irregular 
and wasteful methods of employment, and to provide for 
the growth of large reserves of labour, both of men and of 
boys. In other words, the supply is so ample as to render 
possible great Waste of Labour, and there is little need to 
economize it. For, as a rule, employers can, in spite of the 
waste, get all the workers whom they require. Of this 
there is evidence in the large reserves that are found not only 
in unskilled work but in many skilled trades as well, and 
in the very serious waste of Boy Labour of all kinds 
facts which are admitted and deplored by all competent 

In the view of some of the very highest authorities, indeed, 
and notably of Mr. W. H. Beveridge, the existence of these 
reserves is not due to any insufficiency in the demand, but 
purely to existing methods of doing the work, which re- 
quire a large reserve of labour always to be at hand, " either 
working or waiting for work." * 

My point, on the contrary, is that the two things go 
together, and that to have such a reserve of labour, it is 
necessary to have a very ample supply of men, so that suffi- 
cient can be spared from more regular work for this purpose. 
1 Unemployment : A Problem of Industry. 


There is, indeed, a certain amount of irregular and casual 
employment that is inevitable in any case, or that can only 
be avoided by careful public organization. Apart from 
this, however, casualization is largely a matter of choice. 
If it is necessary to economize labour, more regular 
methods will be adopted ; if not, probably the more casual. 
At present, for instance, some firms on the riverside will 
keep a large number of men at work for three or four days, 
instead of a smaller one for the whole week, to ensure a 
sufficiency against emergencies, whilst in the Building Trades 
methods of engagement are very haphazard and leave 
much to chance, except when trade is very brisk and labour 
scarce. Indeed, any approach to a shortage in this industry 
both could and would be met by improvements in organiza- 
tion. At present, however, the supply is usually such as to 
render them unnecessary. 

Two questions have now to be considered : first, whether 
the Supply of Labour is so ample as to make possible, or even 
to cause, a great deal of waste ; and secondly, whether it is 
also growing more rapidly than the demand. On the first 
point the evidence seems to show that at any rate among 
the lower grades of labour such an ample supply has existed 
for a long time, and that if things are growing no worse, 
neither are they growing better. On trie second point 
the evidence is less definite, but there is a good deal of it 
to prove that the amount of unemployment is on the 
whole increasing. The available information on these two 
points may be briefly summarized. 

Thus the Majority of the Poor Law Commission gave 
vent to the opinion that : 

" the growth of casual labour to its present dimensions is a modern 

Again, without committing themselves to a statement as to 
an actual increase or decrease, the Minority said : - 

" Confining ourselves to adult men, we cannot estimate the 
number in the United Kingdom who are thus to-day holding 
no situations, continuous or discontinuous, but are existing 


on casual jobs of brief duration, and who habitually do not 
get a full week's work, at less than between one and two 

Coming to detailed figures, the Trade Union percentages 
seem to point to an increase in unemployment in good 
and bad times alike. The general percentage is unreliable 
owing to the greatly increased representation in recent 
years of trades like the Textiles and Coal Mining, which 
meet depressions mainly by short time rather than dis- 
missals. Fortunately, however, much more reliable figures 
exist in the case of the Sixteen Trade Unions which have 
made continuous returns since 1873, though here again the 
figures in some ways exaggerate the unemployment of 
earlier as compared with the later years. In other respects, 
they somewhat under-estimate them. 

Taking periods of ten years, the amount of unemploy- 
ment seems to have been greatest in the 'Eighties and be- 
tween 0:900 and 1910, and least before 1880 and in the 
'Nineties. On the whole, however, the most recent period 
has shown the highest percentages, except in one or two 
branches of the Engineering Trades. This is further sup- 
ported by the returns of individual Unions, which have, 
outside the latter group, shown considerable and sometimes 
marked increases in the case of almost every Union, whilst 
within it the same is true of several important bodies, 
notably the Amalgamated Society of Engineers. It should 
be added that in the last few years a new period of Low 
Unemployment appears to have begun, but the figures for 
the previous decade were often startling. If they do not 
prove a definite increase, they at least provide a strong case 
for inquiry. 1 

What has been said of unemployment generally applies 
also to the years of bad trade. For the sixteen Unions the 
percentage in 1908 and 1909 was higher than in any earlier 
year except 1879, triough the depression of 1884 to 1887 
was of longer duration. On the other hand, that of 1908-9 
was only separated from the preceding period of bad trade 

1 For more detailed figures see Appendix IV 


(1902-5), a long but shallow one, by two years, in which 
there was still considerable unemployment. The Engineer- 
ing Trades were as a rule as badly off both in 1879 and in 
1884-7 as in 1908-9. l Two of the other three groups 
however, showed an amount of unemployment in the 
latter years considerably in excess of that of any previous 
period, and in the third case, the Woodworking and Furni- 
ture Trades, the percentage of 1908 (8*3) was only equalled 
in 1879.2 

The increase in unemployment, indeed, has been less 
marked recently in years of extreme depression than it 
otherwise might have been, because of the operation of two 
causes. First, the number of actual dismissals has been 
reduced by an increase, in industries like Engineering, of 
the practice of working Short Time. In 1904, the Second 
Fiscal Bluebook stated that " the shortening of hours in 
times of slack trade is not prevalent in most districts in the 
engineering trades," and held that in them the total amount 
of short time was small. In 1908-9, however, the monthly 
returns of the Labour Gazette showed that it was very 
common in three at least of the more important districts 
Lancashire, Yorkshire and Scotland and that it was also 
utilized in some others. Thus a larger share of the total 
loss of employment appears now to be met in this way 
than was the case formerly, and this has tended to reduce 
the percentages of unemployment compared with earlier 

Secondly, allowance must be made for the growth both 
in the numbers and proportions of Trade Unionists who are 
in receipt of Superannuation Benefit. These are largely 
affected by the conditions of trade, since bad trade makes 
things more difficult for the older men and compels larger 
numbers of them to go on superannuation. Now the per- 

1 With one or two exceptions individual Unions show as high 
or higher percentages in 1908-9 as in almost any previous year, but 
owing to the different rates at which their membership has increased, 
the percentage for the whole trade is higher. 

2 For the two years 1908-9 the percentage was 8-0 per cent., as 
against 6-4 in 1878-9, 4-4 in 1885-6, 4-3 in 1893-4, and 5-8 in 1903-4. 


centage of men receiving such benefit in the Unions that 
have made returns continuously since 1892, rose from 1-5 
per cent, in that year and 2-0 per cent, in 1901 to 4-0 per 
cent, in 1910 ; and judging from such information as is 
available, there was an appreciable increase also in the years 
preceding 1892. It is significant too that between 1901 
and 1910 the percentages in the Building Trades, where the 
depression was exceptionally severe after an equally un- 
precedented boom, rose from i'i to 3-8, whilst in other 
trades the rise (from 27 to 4-1) was considerable, but much 
less marked. 

The increase itself is due mainly to the much larger number 
of members who have qualified latterly for this benefit, and 
therefore it does not necessarily show that it is more diffi- 
cult for old men, as such, to find employment. The point, 
however, is that the increasing numbers provided for in 
this way are kept out of the labour market. In previous 
years some of these men would no doubt have maintained 
themselves by their savings, or have come on the Poor Law ; 
but the majority of them, by competing for work, would 
either have themselves swelled the percentages of unem- 
ployed in their trades or else have forced others into them 
when they themselves succeeded in getting work. Hence 
allowance has to be made for the fact that since 1907 about 
35 per 1,000 workmen in various industries have been taken 
out of the labour market in this way as against 15 per 1,000 
or less previous to 1892. Thus consideration of these two 
increases, in short time and in the numbers superannuated, 
shows the present position to be even less favourable than 
it appears on the surface. 

Perhaps, however, the most significant fact of all is the 
growth in the amount of unemployment which has been 
exhibited in the two years of good trade in 1906 and 1907,* 
when the percentage was almost twice as high as in any 
previous period of boom. The state of employment in 
good years is perhaps the best criterion of whether the 

1 This experience has not been repeated in the present year (1913), 
when the percentage has fallen almost to the same level as in 1900. 


demand for labour is sufficient fully to absorb the supply, 
or whether it is growing so slowly as to render possible an 
increasingly wasteful use of it. For a growing amount of 
unemployment in good years means an increase in the 
numbers who are unemployed, or under-employed, under 
almost any conditions. 

Now it is significant that in 1906 and 1907 not only was 
the general percentage much higher than ever before during 
the prevalence of good trade, but that, with two exceptions, 1 
the same is true of every individual Union for which returns 
are available since 1873. Now even if, in some cases, 
changes in methods of calculating the percentage cause the 
amount of unemployment previous to 1892 to be slightly 
under-estimated, the increase in 1906-7, nevertheless, is 

Had this increase in the amount of unemployment in 
good years proved itself to be a permanent feature of our 
industrial development, its seriousness could hardly have 
been exaggerated. Happily, however, the recent boom in 
trade marked a return to the conditions that prevailed 
previously. The percentages were 2*5 in 1912 (in the months 
not affected by the Coal Strike) and 2*1 in 1913, as against 
2-0 and 2 -4 in 1899 and 1900, the increase being thus very 
slight indeed. 

What happened in 1906 and 1907, therefore, may prove 
to have been quite an isolated occurrence, of which there 
will be no repetition. Against this, however, has to be set 
the enormous emigration of the last few years, and the great 
rise in the number of superannuated Trade Unionists. 
And after all allowance has been made, the high percentages 
of 1906-7, even if they should not recur, do constitute a case 
for enquiry as to whether the demand for skilled labour is 
keeping pace with the supply. 

With unskilled labour again there is evidence of a growing 

1 The Associated Ironmoulders of Scotland and the Typo- 
graphical Association, and in their case the percentage of 1906-7 
was only exceeded on one previous occasion, in 1882-3 an d in 
1899-1900 respectively. 


excess in certain directions, but not enough to constitute 
conclusive proof as regards the whole of it. Thus of Dock 
Labour in London the following facts were reported to the 
Poor Law Commission in I907 1 : 

" So far as could be ascertained there appeared to be a general 
opinion that in the prospects of employment at the Riverside 
there had been a considerable change for the worse in the 
last ten or twelve years. ... In 1891-2 the number of those 
competing for work has been stated (Life and Labour of the 
People) at about 22,000, the number of those needed under the 
conditions then obtaining as 20,000. In a later passage of the 
same work it was said that there appeared ' to be good work 
actually for 14,500 to 15,000, or, allowing for sickness and un- 
avoidable friction, for 16,000 men/ A representative of the men 
referring to the same four classes of riverside labour . . . states 
that ' while these figures may have been correct when the book 
was published, they would not be applicable at the present 
moment.' . . . When pressed he said that without pretending 
to exactness, he would put the number at present competing 
for work at not less than 30,000. After a careful investiga- 
tion he said that he placed the lowest number employed at 
9,500, which would increase at busy times to a maximum of 

Fuller information might show these estimates to be 
incorrect, but as they stand they are significant. For whilst 
decasualization and the use of improved machinery have 
reduced the men required, they have not led to a decrease 
in the number competing for work, but on the contrary, 
have been accompanied by a large increase in it. So too 
of employment at the Liverpool Docks the same report 
says 2 : 

" Sometimes, again, it is said that the steamship companies 
cannot get men, or at least . . . men worth engaging. Both 
these criticisms are to a certain extent true, although perhaps 
the latter is less so than formerly. There is now, as more than 

1 Report of Mr. A. D. Steel-Maitland and Miss Rose Squire 
on the Relations of Industrial and Sanitary Conditions to Pauper- 
ism. Poor Law Commission, Appendix XVI, p. 39 (46 and 47). 

2 Ibidem, p, 81 (25), 


one person has told us, ' a permanent surplus of labour. ' Again, 
in the words of a superintendent relieving officer, ' there were 
a good many more now seeking work than there is work to offer 
them. If the Docks were at their busiest, all the men willing 
to work could not be engaged.' ' 

The latter statement, however, no longer holds good, 
since the Liverpool Docks have suffered from a shortage 
of labour in the last two years. London dock labour, 
on the other hand, seems to show a growing number of 
workmen competing for a diminishing, or at least stationary, 
amount of employment. 

When we turn to consider the other trades which largely 
utilize casual labour, definite figures are less easy to obtain. 
In the Building Trades, which, next to the Docks, appear to 
provide the largest market for it, the proportion of the 
workmen who are casually employed seems undoubtedly 
to have increased, 1 whilst even in the great boom of 1895-9 
there was no real shortage of labour in the trade, though 
what there was had to be more economically used. Again, 
looking at the matter from a slightly different standpoint, 
the absorption of boys in many forms of purely uneducative 
work seems to be growing, but at the same time there are 
few signs of shortage, either of skilled men or of learners for 
skilled work. In other words, it appears to be possible to 
waste a large and growing number of boys in juvenile Blind 
Alleys and of men in unskilled casual labour without 
paying the price in a lack of trained mechanics. * 

The evidence, therefore, suggests that in all classes and 
grades of work the supply of labour has for a long time 
been sufficient to enable large numbers of men to be 
wasted by casual labour or in other ways. As to whether 
these numbers are increasing, on the other hand, the evi- 
dence is not conclusive, but it appears to suggest an 
affirmative answer, though the growth may not be very 

1 The numbers employed in this industry declined considerably 
between 1901 and 1911. Hence this particular growth is relative 
rather than absolute. 


B (ii.) The Existing State of Employment : Among 


Finally, it is necessary to consider the same question in 
relation to Boy Labour and to ask whether there is a shortage 
or excess of it, either generally or in any particular form. 
The question, in fact, is this. Making a reasonable allow- 
ance for friction (i.e., sickness, accident, or necessary loss 
of time between one job and another), is there or is 
there not enough work to keep all the boys regularly 
engaged throughout the year ? 

So far as good permanent openings are concerned, whether 
to learn skilled work or in the better class of semi-skilled 
jobs, there are undoubtedly more boys available than can 
find places. This is to some extent inevitable since there 
will always be some with ambitions in the direction of a 
skilled trade who do not possess the capacity for it. But 
allowing for this, there are, in London at any rate, undoubt- 
edly more who are fit to become skilled workmen than can 
actually do so. 

In some important London industries, indeed, notably 
Printing and Engineering, there is a good demand for learners, 
but in others, notably in Building and the better-class Fur- 
niture Trades, it is very small indeed. Taking it as a whole, 
therefore, the Demand is decidedly deficient. Men are 
wanted, not boys, who are often found to be a nuisance, 
and what is more, the men are usually obtainable. 1 It 
should be added that this tendency is more marked in 
London than elsewhere owing to the large supply of adult 
labour that comes into it from outside. 

Now these facts are far stronger evidence of a shortage in 
the demand for learners than any mere surplus of boys 
applying for such jobs could be. What is important is 
that comparatively few are needed or required to fill these 
posts, and yet in spite of the inadequate number that they 

1 The Manager of a firm of Wire Goods Manufacturers said : 
I have no need to take an apprentice. If I have a vacancy 

there are always plenty of those poor devils outside who are only 

too glad of a job." 


train, and the waste of good material even among these, 
the employers can nearly always get a sufficiency of men, 
though it is true that really good ones may be scarce. 
The employers, therefore, want men, not boys, and they 
are able to have them. Thus, even allowing for the provin- 
cial influx, the small number of learners is significant. Nor 
must it be forgotten that the districts from which this outside 
labour is obtained probably could not train all the boys that 
they do, nor provide for them when they are trained, but 
for the openings afforded by London. 

Nor is this due to any difficulty in getting boys for skilled 
work. On the contrary, in London nearly all firms can get 
quite as many as they need and many can get them several 
times over, not only in trades where few are taken, but in 
others, such as Printing and Engineering, where their 
services are fully utilized. 1 Such troubles as there are, are 
due to special circumstances, like the need for a particularly 
high level of ability, the offer of very low wages, or the bad 
reputation of a firm. Associations for placing boys, again, 
have often great difficulty in finding such Vacancies, little 
or none in filling them, and it is often only by the most 
vigorous efforts in enlisting the sympathies of employers 
that they can create any demand at all. The Labour 
Exchanges, indeed, experience some trouble at times owing 
to the high wages demanded by the boys themselves, but 
apart from this have little difficulty in obtaining, more than 
they require. 

As regards other towns, the matter is not so clear. In 
them, too, there is probably a shortage of vacancies for 
learners and a surplus of boys to fill them, but it is less 
considerable. In his report on Boy Labour made to the 
Poor Law Commission, Mr. Cyril Jackson summarized the 
answers of employers to the question "Is there any diffi- 
culty in getting boys ? " as follows : 

1 If there is any difficulty it is brought about by the restrictions 
imposed by Trade Union rules, and not by shortage of boys, nor 
in many cases are these rules unduly strict. Not seldom they are 
decidedly generous. 


Proportion of 




Affirmative to 

Negative Replies. 





About i to I2-|- 


Other Towns : 

Textile Trades . . . 





Other Trades 




i 4 

Total (other Towns) 




About i to 3 

Whole Country . 




About i to 5 

The trades employing mainly unskilled labour rarely 
suffered from a shortage, and in other cases it is probable 
that any difficulties were due rather to questions of capacity 
or of wages, or to limitations of numbers by the Unions, 
than to an actual scarcity. Again, the experience of 
London suggests that they may have consisted chiefly in 
finding means to bring employers and boys together. 
That there is any real shortage of the latter for good work 
anywhere is more than doubtful, and Mr. Jackson's returns 
would probably have been even more emphatic on the point 
if they had been made in a period of bad trade, not, as they 
were, during a boom. 1 It seems, therefore, that there is in 
London a large surplus available for skilled work, and outside 
it a smaller but still considerable one. 

As regards unskilled boy labour, on the other hand, a 
definite answer is less easy to give. Complaints by em- 
ployers are frequent, whilst there is often considerable un- 
employment, more particularly among the older boys. 
Reference is also made both to their restlessness and their 
general behaviour, and probably the trouble experienced 
by the employers arises less often in getting boys than in 
keeping those whom they have got. A recent comparison 

1 The Returns were made in the latter half of 1906, when the 
boom of 1906-7 was at its height. 


of the Labour Exchange Returns in four Yorkshire towns 
showed in one a large, and in a second a considerable, 
surplus, and in two others there was no surplus at all. In 
both these last, however, the special circumstances of the 
Textile Trades created an unusually large demand. 

In London, the managers of some Exchanges find at 
times a difficulty in procuring all the boys they want, whilst 
others have more on their books than they can place. The 
shortage, however, is often only temporary and sometimes 
apparent rather than real. Spasmodic demands take place, 
for instance, which are too large to be satisfied at short notice. 
Many lads also fail to use the Exchanges at all, and employers 
have other means of getting those they require. 1 The de- 
mand for unskilled boy labour, therefore, though often 
brisk, is seldom so brisk as to outrun the supply, and a 
shortage at the Exchanges may well be concurrent with 
insufficient work to employ fully all those who need it. 

On the other hand, there is much direct evidence of a 
surplus of boys for unskilled work. In London there are 
usually some thousands who remain unplaced on the Ex- 
change Registers at the end of each month, the number 
only falling below 2,000 in two out of twelve during 1911, 
whilst some who do not continue registration undoubtedly 
remain unemployed for a longer or shorter time. In Mr. 
Jackson's return, again, few if any of the firms employing 
a lower grade of boy labour had .any difficulty in getting 
as many as they wanted, whilst there is much evidence in 
other directions to show that there is considerable unemploy- 
ment among older boys, and even among lads between 
fourteen and sixteen, with whom such shortage as exists is 
to be found. A recent inquiry, for instance, into the occu- 
pations of boys who had left a number of schools in London 
showed a considerable proportion (over 6-0 per cent.) of 
those between fourteen and fifteen to be unemployed, or at 

1 E.g., one man said that his son " was sent up by the Exchange 
to a job and found a whole line of boys waiting there, and when he 
tried to push his way further up, got a clout on the head for his 


least unoccupied. 1 Finally, there is little doubt that many 
parents experience considerable difficulty in finding their sons 
places at all, or are so afraid of not finding them anything, 
that they snatch at the first opening, however unsuitable. 

All these facts, therefore, suggest that any trouble in 
obtaining sufficient boys is not due to a shortage of them, 
but to other causes. Partly it is due to the difficulty of 
bringing employers and employed together, and still more 
to inability to utilize the available supply. Boys are 
restless and continually on the move, employers as a result 
make little effort to keep them, and casual methods of 
employment grow up. Hence there is considerable and 
unnecessary waste of time in moving from job to job, and 
in the unemployment, often for long spells, of so many lads ; 
and could reasonable regularity be secured, and the supply 
be economized instead of squandered, there would probably, 
some few towns excepted, be more than enough for all 

Nor does such shortage as exists justify the idea that it has 
any counterpart among adult men. For most of the more 
permanent jobs, whether in skilled or low-skilled work, there 
appear to be more than sufficient boys. It is in those which 
employ boys, and boys only, that an adequate number is 
hardest to secure. The greatest demand, in short, is not 
for boys to make into men, but for boys who will be required 
only for so long as they remain such. The direct displace- 
ment of men by boys is a comparatively small part of the 
problem. Far more important is the fresh creation or 
more rapid growth chiefly in the distributive trades 
of forms of work which utilize the large supply of boys. 
This too contradicts the idea of a real shortage ; for unless 
enough and to spare are already obtainable, all will be 
absorbed in existing employments. It is when the supply 
is more than ample that new uses are found for them, and 

1 R. A. Bray, " The Apprenticeship Question " (Economic 
Journal, September, 1909', pp. 404 etseq.}. This, however, would be 
partly accounted for by boys who had just left school and not yet 
started work, and partly also by those of whom for various reasons 
no information could be obtained. 



have to be found if their labour is not to be wasted altogether. 
What does happen is that difficulty arises from their restless- 
ness and lack of discipline, which further reduces the demand 
for learners, and in other ways causes more than need do so 
to enter and remain in unskilled jobs. 

Hence, though the fact is partly concealed by the waste 
and loss of time that goes on, there appear to be more than 
enough boys for all kinds of work, and a considerable surplus 
for positions which require or impart skill. The result is a 
state of affairs similar to that described in connexion with 
adult unemployment namely, a sufficient supply of them 
to permit of the free use of irregular and wasteful methods of 
employment and training. And there is also an increasing 
creation or extension of pure boys' jobs. 

So too a really strong demand for boys would have similar 
effects to those which arise in the case of men. The need 
for economizing the supply would lead to the substitution 
,of better and more regular methods for existing ones. 
These methods would in time become as habitual as present 
ones are, and they might become so much a habit as to be 
less affected by future changes in the demand. Thus 
in Berlin, where the absorption of. apprentices, learners 
and others in permanent positions is, in proportion, very 
much greater than in London, the result has been to check 
the growth of Blind Alleys. 1 

To sum up, therefore, it would appear, first, that on general 

i 1 E.g. " Berlin, though growing luxurious, is not yet so spend- 
thrift of its young life as is London. The newspaper boy and the 
child street-trader are unknown. The errand boy and the errand 
girl, it is true, are on the increase, but the middle-class housewife 
still goes herself or sends her maid-of-all-work to bring home the 
daily marketings. Shopkeepers, as a rule, do not call daily for 
orders, or deliver customers' goods daily. Where a van or a cart 
is sent, a van boy is unusual. If a second is carried on a van, he 
is generally a' man. The telegraph and messenger services are 
usually performed by men (ex-soldiers), not by boys " (Repoit 
to the London County Council by Miss F. Hermia Durham, on 
Juvenile Labour in Germany). 


principles a Defective Demand for Labour over a long period 
is likely to lead directly to Waste and to increased irregu- 
larity of employment both for men and boys, and that a 
Strong Demand is likely to reduce both to a minimum ; and, 
secondly, that as a matter of actual fact, there is such a 
Defective Demand in Great Britain, and that it is leading 
to irregular methods of employment, bad methods of 
training and Waste of Labour. 

Thus the same results are found to follow from the 
influence of Demand as from that of the system of Training. 
Bad and haphazard methods in the latter case, slackness 
or insufficiency in the former, are both potent causes of 
unemployment and of the growth of casual labour ; and 
both of them seem to be in active operation. They further 
exert a mutual influence upon one another. Methods may 
be so bad as to deteriorate more or less seriously the labour 
of a trade, and so to restrict or hinder its development. 
In other cases, the shortage of good men can be got over 
by adopting alternative means of production, or by the 
growth of a reserve of men and boys. So too a slack De- 
mand is a fruitful parent of bad methods. What often 
happens is that deficiency of Demand produces these and a 
waste of labour. They in their turn cause a decline in the 
quality of the workmen, who of necessity become less valu- 
able to the employer ; and this still further restricts Demand. 

So the two are often in operation at the same time, and 
vary in extent together. Hence full benefit cannot be 
obtained by a change which deals only with one and not 
with both. Inferior teaching has checked Demand ; a 
superior training will encourage it by increasing productive 
and purchasing power. Moreover existing methods have 
become so habitual that it is doubtful if increased demand 
by itself will bring about a thorough change in them. A 
definite and consistent effort will probably be needed. 

On the other 'hand, without an improvement and exten- 
sion of Demand, the restoration of a good system of training, 
though not impossible, is likely to be long and difficult. 
This it must almost necessarily be so long as haphazard 


methods involve less trouble to the employers and yet 
provide them with sufficient labour of an adequate quality. 
For a rapid improvement, therefore, an increasing Demand 
for Labour is essential. For this alone can create conditions, 
under which Waste of Labour is likely to produce a short- 
age, and better Training to prove not only profitable but 
necessary. For the latter involves thought, trouble and 
expense ; but where labour is not more than sufficient, still 
more where it is scarce, these are found to be well worth 



I. EXISTING AGENCIES. Three Propositions to be laid down respect- 
ing existing Agencies for placing and supervision Classes of 
them Head Teachers Value of Their Work Its Limitations 
Work of Day Trade Schools Work of Evening Classes 
Work of Clergy and Parish Workers. 

Apprenticeship Charities Their Nature and Work Appren- 
ticeship Associations Illustration from work of Skilled Employ- 
ment Associations Their Organization in London Their 
Aims Policy regarding Indentures and Premiums Bargaining 
for Higher Wages Control of Boys during Service Educa- 
tional Work among Parents and Employers Limitations 
of their Work Its Defects Other Similar Institutions 
Statistics of Work of Skilled Employment Associations 
The Plumbers' Company and Apprenticeship Boys' Homes 
Clubs and Brigades Latter mainly engaged in Control and 

General Organization of Exchanges and Care Committees 
Work of the Latter in Detail And of the Former Indi- 
vidual Supervision Mainly in the hands of the Care Committees 
Similar Schemes Elsewhere The Edinburgh System, estab- 
lished under the Scotch Education Act of 1908 The Bir- 
mingham System Question of whether the Organization 
shall be controlled by the Education or the Exchange Autho- 
rity Three Main Elements in all systems: the Exchange, 
the Advisory Committee, the Care Committee Different 
Forms of Supervision. 

The Trade Unions Regulation of Conditions of Teaching 
The Number of Apprentices A Fixed Proportion of Boys to 
Men A Varying Proportion No Limitation of Numbers 
Fixing of Period of Service and Starting Age Various Regula- 
tions Little Regulation of Wages paid to Apprentices 
Hours and Overtime the Same as with Men Attitude towards 
Trade School Waning Hostility and Growing Approval 
Little Means of Active Support Generally Position does not 
usually permit of their taking a very strong line in any direction. 

II. CURRENT PROPOSALS. The Majority Report of the 
Poor Law Commission More Comprehensive Proposals by 



Mr. Cyril Jackson in his Report to the Commission on Boy 
Labour Criticisms of both these Policies and suggestions 
for Improvement Scheme of the Consultative Committee 
of the Board of Education Mr. Seebohm Rowntree's general 
suggestions His Scheme for Unemployed Juveniles Detailed 
Criticism of it Proposals of the Home Office Report on the 
Labour of Van and Warehouse Boys. 

Scheme of the Minority Report of the Poor Law Commis- 
sion : Industrial Half-Time Advantage of the Scheme 
Objections and Difficulties Summary of them Conclusion. 

FULLER reference is now required to those existing agencies 
whose purpose it is to place boys in employment and control 
them at their work. Strictly speaking, these should include 
Trade and Technical Schools, but they have already been 
fully dealt with, and will only be mentioned further in so 
far as they assist in starting and in supervising them. 
In the first half of this chapter, therefore, I propose to 
describe briefly the chief of these agenices, their aims and 
their methods, and in the second to comment upon some 
of the more important proposals for dealing with the prob- 
lems of Boy Labour. 


As regards the former, three propositions may be laid 
down. The reorganization of the system of Care Com- 
mittees in 1908, and the establishment of Juvenile Advisory 
Committees of the Labour Exchanges, beginning in the 
autumn of 1910, marked the first serious attempt to deal 
with the juvenile population of London as a whole. Secondly, 
there existed previously various institutions and individuals 
concerned each with some part, but not with the whole, of 
the problem, who were more or less organized each for some 
particular purpose. Hence boys and girls were either left 
to the uncoordinated control of a number of societies, or 
were under no control at all. Thirdly, with some few excep- 
tions, these agencies have usually dealt with one or other 
of the twin problems of placing and supervision, but not 
with both together ; and neither of them is likely to be 
fully solved, so long as it is dealt with independently of the 
other. For complete success, therefore, all the bodies 


concerned must at least be under a common, central 
authority, and this is what the new system is attempting to 

Existing agencies include first those individuals, such as 
school teachers, who possess definite positions in connexion 
with boys and, as a result, interest themselves in starting 
them in life ; secondly, societies whose primary object is 
to place them in skilled trades by Apprenticeship or other- 
wise ; thirdly, those Lads' Homes which seek as part of 
their duties to find suitable work for their boys ; fourthly, 
Lads' Clubs, Brigades, Boy Scouts' Troops, and similar 
bodies, which are chiefly occupied with supervision ; and 
lastly, the Trade Unions, so far as they attempt to regulate 
the conditions of juvenile employment. 

Among individuals more is perhaps done by the head- 
masters and teachers in the Elementary Schools than by 
any others. They know the boys well, sometimes inti- 
mately. The work done in school and at manual training 
gives a rough and ready test of capacity, though trie lad 
who does well at school is not always so successful outside 
it, and those with push and smartness may do better than 
the quiet, industrious boy of more real ability. With all 
their limitations, indeed, the head teachers are better 
situated for dealing with the matter than almost any other 
individuals. Those of them who are well known often have 
quite a connexion among firms of good standing, who send 
to them when .they want a lad, and in this way positions of 
a permanent character are often at their disposal. 

The value of their work, however, is limited in many 
ways, and as a rule they can only provide for some and not 
all of their boys. Too much, again, depends on the per- 
sonality of each man. Some, a minority it is true, are by 
no means willing to undertake all the extra work that is 
involved, whilst a teacher's connexion with employers is a 
purely personal one, and apt to be lost on his retirement. 
And there are even more serious difficulties. He cannot in 
many cases know, or test, the quality of the work that is 
offered, and has to risk its turning out badly. Further, 


he cannot do more than place the boys. To supervise 
them after they are placed is quite beyond his power, and 
this duty is now being undertaken by the Care Committees. 
Again, having only those who are leaving or about to leave 
his own school to select from, he has not always a suitable 
one for a particular job. Nor is he in a position to wait, 
since the firm must usually fill the place at once, and if a 
boy is not forthcoming will go elsewhere and perhaps offer 
no more vacancies in the future. Hence he has to send 
the best available, whether he is really fitted for it or not. 
On the other hand, a Labour Exchange with a number of 
schools to draw on will be much better able to give employers 
a wide selection. Moreover, if both the Exchanges and 
the teachers are doing the same work, confusion and over- 
lapping may result. Until, however, the former are more 
fully developed, the latter should be encouraged to continue 
their work, but they should notify to the Exchanges the 
positions that they fill, and where possible send to them 
those which they cannot provide for satisfactorily. 

In this connexion mention may be made of the Day 
Trade Schools, since they possess special facilities for placing 
their boys. In their trade teaching they are confined to a 
particular industry and its allied branches and are usually 
situated in districts where these are extensively carried 
on. The Principals and Instructors, therefore, have as a 
rule a considerable knowledge of them. The pupils are a 
picked lot and consequently above the average in ability, 
they have usually shown special aptitudes for this industry 
and select carefully the branch of it to which they will go. 
The chief difficulty lies in the doubts and, in some cases, 
prejudices of employers and in the legacy of past mistakes, 
but these are being overcome. Thus in one case all who 
had passed through a certain School were doing well with 
one exception, due entirely to the lad's own fault ; in another" 
the support of employers was difficult to get, but once 
obtained was usually continued and extended. A third 
had a clientele of some twenty businesses of good standing, 
who always sent to it when in need of a learner. 


These Schools, moreover, assist indirectly in the super- 
vision of the earlier years of employment, since most of 
their boys continue to attend Evening Classes after they 
leave. Similarly, the ordinary Trade Schools do much to 
help their students in this way, especially in guiding those 
who are migrating from job to job. But here again, both 
in placing and control, their work, and more particularly 
that of the former, is limited to a comparatively few picked 
boys. The Evening Trade Classes, indeed, get into touch 
with thousands, but even these include but a small propor- 
tion of the whole, and an even smaller one of those who 
need them most. Nevertheless, within these limitations 
they do most valuable work. 

Finally, the Clergy and parish workers also help to find 
situations, but do so under circumstances .that are less 
favourable than those of the school teachers. They have 
not the same knowledge of a boy's attainments, nor as a 
rule so many boys to select from, and sometimes get only 
the unsuccessful and the unruly ones to deal with. In 
individual cases, however, they often give great assistance, 
and usually continue to exercise supervision for far longer 
than the master can, since their connexion with a boy does 
not terminate when he leaves school. 

The second kind of agency consists of Apprenticeship 
Societies and Apprenticeship Charities. The latter are still 
very numerous and possess a large total income, the objects 
in which it may be spent including often the provision of 
tools and outfit as well as the payment of premiums. Many 
of the individual Charities are very small, and quite unable 
to provide properly either for the selection or the oversight 
of their boys, and the decrease in the use of the indenture, 
and still more in the payment of premiums, has caused a 
large number of them to divert their funds to the other 
purposes, for which provision is made in their trust deeds. 
Moreover, advantage is apt to be taken of them by firms 
who employ apprentices for the sake of the premium, or 
who do not normally demand or accept one. Where, how- 
ever, they seriously carry out their work of placing and 


supervision, they can achieve similar results to those 
accomplished by the Apprenticeship Societies. 

The latter vary considerably in their objects and methods. 
For instance, the Skilled Employment Associations and 
similar bodies deal with all classes of boys and all skilled 
trades. The Jewish Board of Guardians, on the other 
hand, confines itself to members of its own religion and, 
in practice, mainly to certain occupations. All, however, 
endeavour with more or less success to select suitable ones, 
and to supervise their boys during their period of service. 
Their work, however, may best be illustrated, and illustrated 
at its best, by a description of the Skilled Employment 

In 1909-10 l there were in London Local Committees in 
fifteen different districts. These were separately adminis- 
tered, and to a great extent separately financed, but were 
under the control of the Central Association, which carried 
out much of the more general work, such as the canvassing 
of employers and the conducting of inquiries into the 
methods obtaining in various trades. Similar Associations 
in other parts of the country are affiliated to it. Since that 
date, however, many of the Local Associations have been 
absorbed in the Juvenile Advisory Committees of the Ex- 
changes, where such have been established, and their workers 
to a great extent continue their work as part of the new 

As their name implies, they aim at organizing generally 
various methods of training for skilled employments, and 
do not confine themselves to Apprenticeship. Occasionally 
they fill some situations outside the ranks of skilled labour. 
Where possible, a binding agreement is entered into, usually 
for five years, the Associations being a party to it and reserv- 
ing the right to break the indenture on due cause being 
shown. By this means they have succeeded in overcoming 
one of the great difficulties of formal Apprenticeship that, 
namely, of getting rid of an unsatisfactory boy or of removing 

1 This year is taken as being the last completed year before the 
coming into operation of the Labour Exchange Act (1909). 


one from an unsatisfactory firm. Where possible, a clause 
is inserted to allow time off for attendance at Technical 
Classes on one or two afternoons a week, and where a pre- 
mium is paid, this is usually insisted upon. The Associa- 
tions will also accept a verbal agreement, and the proportion 
of learners to apprentices is about one to two. Such agree- 
ments, not being legally enforceable, are more often broken 
than are the indentures, employers and boys being about 
equally to blame. Often small difficulties and troubles 
are magnified until one of the parties throws the thing up 
in disgust. Here, however, thanks to their power of super- 
vision, the Associations can step in and set matters right, 
before they have gone too far. On the other hand, their 
work has not extended to those who are learning by 

Payment of a premium is avoided as far as possible, and 
many firms are found who neither insist upon, nor even 
desire, one. Where it is paid, return in the way of 
" time-off " or of higher wages is usually provided for, and 
in this way trades where the work is specially fine or deli- 
cate, or boys whose home circumstances necessitate a high 
initial wage, can be satisfactorily dealt with. Usually 
such payment is not necessary to secure a reasonable rate. 
Finally, the premium is, as a rule, paid in two parts, at the 
beginning, and half way through, the period of service, and 
the amount is repaid by the boy, nearly always punctually, 
in small weekly instalments. 

The Associations are further able to do something in 
bargaining for adequate wages, and the results of their 
efforts have, on the whole, been most gratifying. Some 
of them have been able to obtain starting rates of 55. a 
week in most trades without a premium, and have saved 
their boys from having to accept for the first two years 
such as are little more than nominal. At the same time 
their powers in this direction are limited to some extent, 
since employers can, if necessary, get apprentices elsewhere. 
Still they are increasingly recognizing the value of the 
Associations to them, and as a result are offering more 


favourable terms. Shorter periods of service are also 
arranged for in certain cases. Five years, and less frequently 
seven, are still sometimes necessary, but at others a boy 
cannot spend more than three or four years profitably in 
the same place. Here, under proper safeguards, a Short 
Apprenticeship followed by Migration seems to be the best 
policy, and some employers already adopt it. So, too, 
some at least of the Associations accept and even prefer it, 
arid use their powers of supervision to minimize the dangers 
of its abuse. 

The other side of their work consists of general assistance 
to, and control over, the boys. To begin with, their capa- 
cities are carefully tested, and efforts are made, often 
successfully, to induce them to enter trades that are suited 
both to their health and ability. Thus those who wish to 
enter an unsuitable one, are offered a more likely post with 
the alternative of placing themselves, and those who 
possess the ambition but not the capacity for skilled work, 
can sometimes be dissuaded from taking it up, and a few 
of them are put into good positions of a low-skilled character. 
Further, in addition to those whom they place, boys resort 
to the Associations simply to obtain advice. 

After being started, a boy is kept under regular super- 
vision., The home is visited at more or less fixed intervals, 
often with the result of improving home conditions. The 
employer is also periodically visited and, where necessary, 
is kept up to his side of the agreement. Reports of progress 
at Trade Classes are obtained, and throughout his time the 
learner is well looked after and when it has come to an 
end, may even be further assisted to complete his training. 

Finally, these Associations do most useful educational 
work. They bring home to the parents the character of 
different jobs and the dangers attending them, and enable 
them to provide better for their boys than they could do 
for themselves, supplying that knowledge and information 
which so many cannot otherwise obtain. Further, they 
interest employers in the matter and even create a greater 
demand for learners. In connexion with this, the value 


of what they do in filling jobs with more suitable boys is 
admitted ; but it is sometimes denied that they can increase 
the demand for them. That more could be taken in London, 
is proved by the extent of the provincial influx, and in 
trades where there is a shortage of competent men the 
teaching of more learners would be likely to promote their 
development. And to some extent the Associations have 
actually increased the number of openings, either by inducing 
employers to take them, and those, who only take a few, 
to take more, or by persuading others to reconsider a 
decision to give them up. Frequently, too, they interest 
them in a particular boy, and not seldom a man, who has 
had one in this way, will afterwards have others. This 
work, however, is only in its infancy, and should in time be 
much extended by the Juvenile branches of the Exchanges. 
Apart from this, its value in interesting employers in matters 
of training has been very considerable. 

The Skilled Employment Associations have been chosen 
for detailed description because with them the work of this 
class of agencies has reached its highest development. 
Among such Societies they have adopted the best methods 
and achieved the best results, and realizing the need for 
variety in their methods to suit different conditions, they 
have avoided the rigid insistence on particular forms that 
has been apt to mar the policy of others. Indeed, on a 
small scale they have pioneered the work that is now being 
taken over by Juvenile Labour Exchanges. 1 

Nevertheless, their work has had many necessary limita- 
tions. They have only been able to deal with a few hundred 
boys and girls annually, and the same thing is true of other 
similar institutions. They have confined themselves almost 
entirely to skilled labour. They have found great difficulty 
in many cases in getting the support of employers, and 
especially in getting a grant of " time-off " to attend classes. 

1 This expression is used for the sake of brevity. Technically 
Juvenile Advisory Committees are attached to the branches of the 
Exchanges that are dealing with workers under seventeen years 
of age. 


Moreover, their methods and personnel have come in for 
considerable criticism, some of it legitimate, some of it 
unfounded. Their most important positions are, as a rule, 
filled by experienced social workers, but many of the details 
have to be carried out by young and inexperienced persons, 
with the result that mistakes are inevitable, and complaint 
is sometimes made that they do not utilize fully the means 
of information that are available. 

Even more serious is the criticism that too great atten- 
tion is paid to obtaining an indenture accompanied by 
payment of a premium, and not enough to ensuring the 
quality of the teaching, and in one case it was stated that, 
" provided they could place a boy out with a premium, they 
are satisfied." This, together with the indenture, is thus 
treated in some cases as a sort of talisman, and chances to 
learn under less formal, but otherwise equally good, conditions 
are neglected. Where this attitude is adopted, therefore, 
they play into the hands of those firms who take boys as 
apprentices for the sake of the premium, or use the oppor- 
tunity to get a premium for which in other circumstances 
they would not ask. Or, again, it may be paid to induce 
an employer to take an unsatisfactory boy to the possible 
exclusion of a better one. Such complaints have been and 
are still raised against Skilled Employment Committees 
and in the past there was some considerable justification 
for them. They have, however, learnt by their mistakes, 
and in this and other cases have largely, if not entirely, 
removed legitimate causes of criticism, and such criticisms 
are, as a rule, far less applicable to them than to other 
similar agencies. 

Again, complaint is raised concerning the failure of some 
other Institutions to adapt themselves to modern con- 
ditions, but this fault cannot now be debited to the Skilled 
Employment Associations. For so far as their resources 
permit, they do adapt themselves to the requirements of 
different firms and trades, even placing boys in temporary 
unskilled work to await better openings. Other bodies, 
however, praqtically refuse to adopt any method but that of 


indenture, premium and sometimes seven years' service. 
Now, owing to the varied conditions of modern industry, 
one form of engagement cannot suit all circumstances, and 
to insist invariably upon it, is to neglect good openings of 
other kinds, and put some boys in less good positions than 
might be obtained for them. 

The work of the City Companies in connection with 
Industrial Training may next be considered. The great 
majority of them have confined themselves to giving support 
and assistance to Technical Education, sometimes generally 
and sometimes for the purposes of the particular trade to 
which they belong. The work varies from one Company 
to another, and some do a very great deal in this way, 
but with one important exception they appear to limit 
themselves to it. That exception is the Worshipful 
Company of Plumbers, which perhaps does as much as 
any other to provide for Technical Education, but has also 
established and supported a scheme for securing a uniform 
and well-considered system of Industrial Training. 

The movement for the Registration of Plumbers was 
first started in 1886. On fulfilling certain conditions, 
plumbers, whether masters or workmen, are entitled to 
be registered, and arrangements are made for the marking 
of all work done by them, so that it receives the guarantee 
that it has been done by qualified and responsible men. 
To obtain registration a plumber has to have passed certain 
specified examinations and to have received such a training 
as is recognized by the Company. This may take several 
forms : 

(i) He may serve with a qualified firm a minimum of 
five years' Apprenticeship under an indenture, one 
of the conditions of which is that he shall have made 
adequate attendance at Technical Classes. 1 

1 The Indenture form adopted by the Company states that " the 
apprentice shall attend and diligently study at the Evening Classes 
of any Technical Institution or Trade School now or hereafter to 
be established in London as his master shall direct and as shall be 
approved by the Plumbers' Apprenticeship Board." The master 
undertakes to cause the apprentice to mak6 such attendance, 


(2) He may under certain conditions serve his time under 

the supervision of different firms. 

(3) In the case of those who enter the trade in other 

ways than by Apprenticeship, Registration may 
also be obtained, but the tests to be satisfied are 
more severe than in the case of Apprenticeship. 

Thus the last alternative leaves open other avenues into 
the trade, and at the same time gives a preference to the 
more regular and formal system. It is claimed on behalf 
of the Company that since 1886 there has been a consider- 
able increase in the proportion of plumbers who have 
entered the trade by Apprenticeship, and that a great 
improvement has taken place in the training given to them. 
Unhappily, the