In the UK, apprenticeships are not just commonplace but are an essential part of the job market, providing young people an opportunity to further their career in their chosen field.

In Japan, however, apprenticeships as we know them are much more niche and don’t particularly fit well in a 21st Century economy. Indeed, internships are much easier to come by.

How do Japanese apprenticeships differ from British ones? Let’s take a look and see.

Traditional Crafts

When it comes to apprenticeships in Japan, the most significant kind in its history is the apprentices taken on by a master (a shisho) who works in the traditional crafts of ukiyoe.

These include crafters, printers, painters and papermakers who make beautiful piece of traditional art which are highly sought after not just in Japan but all over the world.

Unfortunately, due to the country’s aging population, ukiyoe is becoming a bit of a lost art. Fortunately, government reimbursement is seeking to restore these traditions and get more young people interested in becoming apprentices.

How They Differ

Traditionally, a shisho’s apprentice would only take room and board when they sign up for the job. They aren’t paid until they’re well into their apprenticeship and gained enough skill to earn off their own commissions. In short, they’re mostly a cost to the shisho until they learn enough to make their way in the field.

As you can imagine, such a system is hardly a viable way to live, especially in the 21st Century. Even if you are paid by the government in subsidies, you’re given a sum of about £300 a month and the selection process is very gruelling.

Can a Foreigner Work As an Apprentice in Japan?

Unfortunately, Japan has been known to rarely offer the same opportunities to foreigners as it does its own citizens.

However, this is changing, especially in more urbanised areas and non-Japanese people have been known to master some of the traditional arts of ukiyoe under an apprenticeship.

So, who knows? Perhaps you could become an apprentice in Japan.

If you’re more keen on staying in the UK, however, visit our apprenticeship page to see what apprenticeship courses we have on offer.