Bell & Bain expands apprenticeship scheme with new recruits

Richard Stuart-Turner
Friday, January 26, 2018

Scottish book printer Bell & Bain has recruited two new apprentices and plans to take on four more in the next few weeks.

Fiona Buchanan and Louise Docherty – daughter of managing director Stephen Docherty – have recently been taken on as modern apprentices.

23-year-old Buchanan has a degree in history from the University of Strathclyde but, after completing her degree, felt she wanted to try something she didn’t know anything about.

“When I graduated, I didn’t really know what I wanted to do. I didn’t have a degree like medicine, where the job is waiting for you,” she said.

“So I expressed an interest in learning about the print industry through a family connection, and was delighted to be asked by one of the managers at Bell & Bain to come in for a chat.

“At first, I was a bit daunted by the technical side of it, but I set about learning as much as I could, and before too long I was offered an apprenticeship. I’m loving the experience and want to understand, and maybe even master, as many aspects of the print trade as possible.”

25-year-old Louise Docherty studied cell biology, earning a degree at the University of Stirling, and had planned a career in genetic counselling before her father persuaded her to come and work in his business.

“I’ve got some big shoes to fill, because my brother was here last year, and he won the Apprentice of the Year award [at the Graphic Enterprise Scotland Apprentice Awards], so I’m eager to show I can learn,” she said.

“The opportunity has arisen for me to manage our estimating and costing department, as well as stock control of paper, which is a huge part of the business. I am hoping that, together with my small team, I can grow it into an outstandingly efficient function of the Bell & Bain operation.”

Managing director Stephen Docherty said: “We’ve gone up to having about 16 or 17 apprentices now, out of a workforce of 120 people. We’re in the process of taking another four on and we’ll probably have them in before March.

“Every single member of my management team, bar one, is a Bell & Bain apprentice. My bindery manager is 24 and my new case-binding manager is 20, and they’re seriously skilled guys.”

He added: “Seeing an apprentice start off as a young person that’s left school and then seeing a man or woman grow out of that is fantastic. The reward is seeing them get better and moving on in their life.

“And you get the chance to teach them your practices and show them your way of thinking – I’m of the belief that any worker for Bell & Bain could get a job at any company anywhere in the world.”

Last year Bell & Bain, which has a turnover of more than £13m, became the first European book printer to install a Ricoh Pro VC60000 in a £1m-plus investment. This followed a separate £1m investment in a finishing world first a few months earlier.


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