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Apprenticeship is a system of training a new generation of skilled crafts practitioners, which is still popular in some countries. Apprentices (or in early modern usage "prentices") build their careers from apprenticeships. Most of their training is done on the job while working for an employer who helps the apprentices learn their trade. Often some informal, theoretical education is also involved.
The system of apprenticeship first developed in the later Middle Ages and came to be supervised by craft guilds and town governments. A master craftsman was entitled to employ young people as an inexpensive form of labour in exchange for providing formal training in the craft. Most apprentices were males, but female apprentices can be found in a number of crafts associated with embroidery, silk-weaving etc. Apprentices were young (usually about fourteen to twenty-one years of age), unmarried and would live in the master craftsman's household. Most apprentices aspired to becoming master craftsmen themselves on completion of their contract (usually a term of seven years), but some would spend time as a journeyman and a significant proportion would never acquire their own workshop.
The modern concept of an internship is similar to an apprenticeship. Universities still use apprenticeship schemes in their production of scholars: bachelors are promoted to masters and then produce a thesis under the oversight of a supervisor before the corporate body of the university recognises the achievement of the standard of a doctorate. Another view of this system is of graduate students in the role of apprentices, post-docs as journeymen, and professors as masters.
Also similar to apprenticeships are the professional development arrangements for new graduates in the professions of accountancy and the law a British example was training contracts known as 'articles of clerkship'.