Government approves print apprenticeship plan

Richard Stuart-Turner
Monday, March 16, 2015

The BPIF’s employer-led submission to develop new apprenticeship standards for the print industry has been successful.

The bid to lead the way in carrying out changes to apprenticeships was submitted to the government in February 2015 and news of the successful bid to secure Trailblazer status was received by the BPIF last week.

This came after a merged consortium, comprising the BPIF and a range of print companies, with support from Proskills, The Printing Charity and Unite, was formed after feedback on an initial round of applications, including an unsuccessful application last July.

The consortium will adopt an inclusive approach to the task and the BPIF said it would welcome input from other organisations with closely aligned occupations and interests.

BPIF Training programme director Ursula Daly said: "This consortium will now define the standard for the industry going forwards, so it's about having that control over the content and how it is actually shaped. The consortium has a good balance of small companies along with some larger companies, so it's not dominated by the larger companies.

"It's also an endorsement of the industry and that the industry is important. At each round of the scheme there's a limited number of groups that get through because the government has a limited amount of resource to support the groups going forward."

Daly added: "While there was a lot of work to get it to here, in reality the work starts now. There's a meeting that will take place next week and we will meet with a government relationship manager who will give us support going through this.

"Essentially, what this will mean is getting groups of companies together to actually define the standards for the roles of printer, print finisher and pre-press operative. These standards will have to be criteria which takes up no more than two sides of A4 and is written in plain English.

"I'm expecting the process to take 12 months. Any longer than 12 months and I think people will lose interest. But it can't be a lot shorter than that because you really need lots of consultation.

"Although there's a core group that will define this, we intend to put it out for consultation to not just BPIF members but anyone we've got contact details for in the industry and actually take that input in on it.

"If you're going to go through that type of exercise you have to take into account the peaks and troughs of the different sectors of the industry and consider when people are likely to be less busy and will have time to look at it."

Ryedale Group, which will chair the consortium, is supported by De La Rue as deputy chair and will head up a group of print employers in designing the new apprenticeship print standards.

Ryedale Group managing director James Buffoni said: “We are excited by the challenge of developing comprehensible industry relevant standards with clear end-point qualifications that are recognised as both relevant and rigorous.

“I am confident the consortium team has the range of expertise and the communication infrastructure to deliver on this important project.”

Skills minister Nick Boles added: “I am delighted that Ryedale and members of the Printing Trailblazer are to join more than 1000 of the country’s leading employers in designing new top quality apprenticeships.

“Giving employers like Ryedale the power to design apprenticeships means that apprentices graduate with the skills they need for the job they want and businesses get the talent they need to grow.”

According to the BPIF's Daly, there are currently an estimated 1,000 apprentices working in the printing industry and 650-700 of those are on the BPIF Training's books.

The BPIF recently gathered together 11 print apprentices from member companies at its London offices to produce a piece of collateral to promote apprenticeships in the print industry to schools.

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