BPIF lauds Level 2 apprenticeship approval

Jo Francis
Tuesday, May 11, 2021

A BPIF-led consortium is celebrating after gaining approval for the much-needed Level 2 Print Operative apprenticeship standard.

Level 2 Standard: recognition for "the engine-room of the industry"
Level 2 Standard: recognition for "the engine-room of the industry"

The BPIF called for input at the beginning of the year. It was able to bring the experience gleaned in successfully agreeing the Level 3 standard – which had been under threat – to the process, with Level 2 fast-tracked as a result. 

The consortium of printing industry firms that supported the process included representatives from CDS, De La Rue, Graphic Packaging International, Page Bros Group, Reach, Ryedale Group and Westrock Multi Packaging Solutions. 

CDi, Unite the Union and The Printing Charity were also involved, and the consortium was chaired by James Buffoni, managing director of the Ryedale Group with vice chair Ian Wilton, operations director at CDS and the current president of the BPIF. 

BPIF programme director Ursula Daly described it as “a fantastic result for the industry and a great example of the tenacity of people in print”.

“The industry has stepped up with feedback and statements of support, and it has made the difference and changed the government’s mind,” she said. 

“The final panel it goes through come from manufacturing, and at the proposal review stage when it was approved James and Ian got  to speak to the panel and answered any questions they had. It was remarked that it was great to see a Level 2 programme that recognised the skillset of that lower level.”

Buffoni commented on the importance of workers at this level: “Approval of the Level 2 Standard brings recognition, structure and opportunity to the engine-room of the industry. This signifies that print operatives have key skills to offer the UK economy and ensures that print apprenticeships in the UK rival the best in the world.”

Wilton, who was a print apprentice himself and is now an employer of apprentices in his role at CDS, said the print operative role played a key part in helping entice young people into the industry, and in business success. 

“With this approval and the existing Level 3 Print Technician which the BPIF has worked tirelessly to gain approval for, we now have a solid training programme in place and an industry that young people will join and have a long successful career in,” he noted. 

The Level 2 Print Operative Standard was submitted for approval in March and gained the green light from the Institute for Apprenticeships and Technical Education (IFATE) on 6 May. 

Daly said it now needed to be signed off by the Department for Education and relevant minister, which could take a few weeks. 

“Talking to providers, I know they will be ready to deliver pretty much at the point it gets loaded,” she added. 

“The industry is a force to be reckoned with when they do pull together,” Daly said. 

Separately, in today's Queen’s Speech today (11 May), Her Majesty said the government would bring in legislation that would “support a lifetime skills guarantee to enable flexible access to high quality education and training throughout people’s lives”, via the Skills and Post-16 Education Bill to be introduced next week. 

This will include a new student finance system, “which will give every adult access to a flexible loan for higher-level education and training at university or college, useable at any point in their lives”, while employers will have a statutory role in planning publicly-funded training programmes with education providers, through a “Skills Accelerator” programme.

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