140,000 work in UK print, so let's make ourselves heard

Kathy Woodward
Monday, April 16, 2012

A young career-seeker looking for an industry committed to developing their long-term skills could be forgiven for deciding print isn't for them

Proskills, the sector skill council for several sectors including printing, has had its funding cut, resulting in the departure of its chief executive Terry Watts and much of its workforce.

Colleges that traditionally offered full- and part-time courses specifically in print-related subjects are either withdrawing the courses altogether or, in keeping with the recent announcement from Leeds City College, changing the delivery route. Ofsted has also been questioning the quality of some company schemes. Even City and Guilds, the long-time accreditation partner of the industry, is reluctant to develop new qualifications and standards because of the small numbers of trainees involved.

A pretty dismal picture for an industry that employs 140,000 people in over 10,000 different companies across the UK.

What is tragic is it that it absolutely isn’t a true reflection of the training and development that is going on across the sector.

In the severe economic environment of the last few years, most of the really poorly run firms have gone and those who weathered the storm know they must keep evolving to survive.

For most firms, this means looking at future relationships with customers and supply chain dynamics and developing investment strategies that cover end-to-end production.

There is a huge energy for bringing people with different skill sets into the industry; for extending the supply chain knowledge base to include skills previously the domain of customers marketing departments; for grasping new technologies including new workflow models and systems; and for equipping managers at all levels with the personal management skills to grasp performance management in a positive way at local company level. 

 The BPIF is seeing SMEs, who haven’t got the economies of scale to run their own programmes, coming together into consortium to create training activities. These include everything from technical certificates that support craft and operator National Vocational Training activities to management programmes with qualifications up to Level 5/6 (degree level).

In March, the BPIF had over 600 different attendees on programmes ranging from mentoring to printed electronics.

However, the industry has not yet fully rewritten the professional framework for the sector that articulates the different shape of skills and content that fully embraces the relationships with the total supply chain.

Having completed the exercise we need to proactively market this to government funders, employers, employees and prospective employees and most importantly our customers.

This is high on the BPIF board’s agenda and hopefully the central focus of the newly shaped Proskills.

But it is critical that we don’t undersell ourselves in the meantime. We must market the really progressive work that is going on out there in the field whilst we are on the transition journey and the great career opportunities we already have on offer within the sector.

 – BPIF chief executive Kathy Woodward

– You can read
PrintWeek's Briefing on this subject here


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