The main focus of the all-day event, held at the St Bride Foundation, was the future sustainability and profitability of the sector, and the organisation unveiled a rebrand that is intended to solidify its position as a “modern, membership-based organisation”, according to chief executive Charles Jarrold.
Also at the meeting, finance director Peter Allen reported a slight increase in turnover at the BPIF to £2,248,000 for the financial year.
Jarrold said: “The issue of representation is at the heart of any trade association and it is one of our key roles to play a part in letting the government know what our sector needs.
"People are heartily fed up with Brexit – it is a mess and is not going to go away – and we have a clear responsibility to help you understand the issues affecting your businesses.
“Despite our sector being concerned about Brexit and already experiencing cost increases, there is still an overwhelming demand for print. For example, there is an 80% preference for physical books in the UK. There really is nothing quite like print.
“Our mission is to educate, equip and inspire the next generation by making sure there is a range of career opportunities available. There is no silver bullet to address our skills needs but we will spend the next year looking for every opportunity to spread the word.”
He concluded: “We can look forward with confidence, as strong as ever.”
Jarrold’s claims were backed up in the publication of the BPIF’s most recent facts and figures, which were made available to attendees. The leaflet indicated the UK print industry currently turns over £14bn with around 112,000 people working for 8,000 companies. It is the fifth-largest print sector in the world after the US, China, Japan and Germany.
The need to attract young people to the sector recurred throughout the opening keynote speech former Royal Mail HR director and motivational speaker Kevin Green, the AGM and the afternoon reception at the House of Commons, hosted by the All-Party Parliamentary Print Group (APPPG).
BPIF programme director Ursula Daly was commended for her successful efforts to attain government approval for Level 3 Trailblazer apprenticeships and Jarrold highlighted her ongoing efforts to attain approval for Level 2, which he said would be “vital” for the sector.
At the late afternoon APPPG event, Unite national officer Louisa Bull said: “Manufacturing is vital to the lifeblood of this country. In these uncertain times, we want to work with the industry to get the ship straightened. A lot has been said about skills and succession, yet employers continue to not use the apprenticeship levy and have not got succession plans in place.
“Many of us will be back here in a few weeks for the Print Futures awards and when you meet the youngsters there who will be looking for jobs, I urge you to pick them up because their talent is tremendous.”
Industry accolades were also awarded at the reception, including an award for outstanding contribution to the print industry, which was won by ProCo chief executive Jon Bailey.
He said: “For those who do not know me, I am just a printer from Sheffield, but I am very proud of my 160 people. We have to change our industry to keep it going and it is our responsibility to make sure the next generation is thriving.”
Graphic Packaging International print manager Andrew Pearson took the Kathy Woodward award and the Victor Watson award going to BAM Nuttall junior graphic designer Lewis Houghton with Communisis machine operator Chad Noble receiving the commendation.