Printweek reported in December that just months after the Print Trailblazer Level 3 apprenticeship scheme finally won government approval via the Institute for Apprenticeships and Technical Education (IfATE) after four years of BPIF and industry input to get it across the line, it’s future was now uncertain.
Print Technician (Level 3) has been included in a review of 30 standards, which aims to reduce the number of “process” occupations, defined as something being manufactured.
The standard encompasses pre-press technician; press technician; and post-press technician.
Programme director Ursula Daly was dismayed by news of the review and said at the time: “We do not believe there is sufficient overlap in the standards for consolidation and we believe that there is a risk that standards will be devalued for the industry if they are not sufficiently specific.”
She was concerned that IfATE could take the view that operating a machine to print something was “no different to operating a machine to make furniture, or textiles”.
Speaking to Printweek today, Daly stressed the importance of industry input to back up its case to retain the Print Technician (Level 3) standard, with the deadline for responses set for midnight on Friday (31 January 2020).
“Without the industry support, there’s a higher risk that we will actually lose specific print apprenticeships; they become general machine operators.
“We’re at a time where we’re really trying to attract new young people into the industry and looking to attract a higher calibre of young people. Print is an industry that’s gone through an awful lot of change and therefore new blood is exactly what it needs.”
She added: “Many company owners and business leaders started in the industry in apprenticeships so they can lead to great things. We have great stories to tell, but if we lose this standard I have concerns about how we will bring these people in.”
Noting the deadline for responses to the survey falling an hour after the UK officially leaves the European Union at 11pm on Friday, Daly added: “There is a connection with Brexit too, because as opposed to working with Europe, to a certain extent we will be working against them.
“So we need our people to be able to stand up and deliver at all levels of all businesses, and apprenticeships are a great way to prepare people to do that.”