Fespa UK Association has launched a new survey to help it to identify and plug some of the training and skills gaps in the print sectors it represents.
Peter Kiddell, a director at the association, which represents printers and manufacturers within the wide-format, specialist and industrial printing sectors, said: “Our members are becoming increasingly concerned about the availability of suitable training for their staff.
“Over the years there has been a slow degradation in the availability of training for the printing industry, particularly in the wide-format and corrugated packaging sectors.
“We know of colleges and NVQs and the like that are available, but what people need is real, practical and industry-focused training. We felt that what we should do as an association is first of all identify what training is available, but more importantly look at how we could work together and offer training within the industry using our own facilities.”
Kiddell said responses to the survey will shape what happens next but that one outcome could see printers or suppliers holding tailored training sessions for both their own workforce and staff from other print companies to attend.
“The survey will give us an insight into what people want and the areas they think they need training in. Based on that we can then talk to our members, particularly our board members who are very keen to do this, and ask them what they can offer and see how we can tie that in with what the colleges have and so on,” said Kiddell.
“The qualifications, such as the NVQs, are a different thing but this is about delivering actual training on running the equipment and managing situations, which is what we feel is missing.”
He added: “We could complain about government and whatever else but let’s do something about it ourselves. As an association we’ve got a group of companies who are keen to work together and will involve other people as well.”
Kiddell said the association would likely be able to pump cash into the training via bids for funding.
“If it’s a well thought out project then we will generally get funding [from Fespa] and we will use that to co-ordinate the training and provide whatever is necessary. It’s about getting it moving.
He added: “The current training providers are great on health and safety and communication but are struggling when it comes down to things like running printing machinery or operating software.
“A friend of mine said it’s a nuisance when you’ve got a person running a digital printing machine and all they’re doing is pushing buttons. They don’t actually know what’s happening, how important the condition of the substrate is or how temperature or humidity will affect it. And do they understand colour?
“Our aim is to facilitate this training because print companies don’t just want button pushers but people that understand what’s happening.”
The survey will be sent out to all of Fespa UK Association’s members and Kiddell hopes to see a healthy level of response by the association’s next board meeting at the end of February.
“Once we decide what we’re actually going to do we’ll put in a bid for funding from Fespa. Even if we didn’t get funding we would still move this forward but we will be able to do more if we’ve got financial support.”
To complete the survey, visit: www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/WSW6DHX