Scottish Apprentice Awards revivied

Sarah Cosgrove
Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Graphic Enterprise Scotland (GES) has revived the tradition of apprentice awards in Scotland after they disappeared along with the last printing college course, and declared them a success.

Scottish Apprentice Award winners
Scottish Apprentice Award winners

The trade association held its first Apprentice Awards at the end of April and gave seven out of 30 current Scottish apprentices awards, with the overall apprentice of the year named as screen printer Robert Hughes of Bar One Clothing.

GES director Donald Cooper said Hughes won the top gong for “his overall performance, the quality of his portfolio and his attitude and application”.

Sponsoring the event were HP, which provided tablets as prizes, and Muller Martini. Channel business manager, HP large-format production products Jane Rixon and Muller Martin sales manager for northern Europe David McGinlay both attended and presented prizes. Maclay Murray and Spens offered sponsorship to the overall event. GES also gave the winners £100 book tokens.

Cooper said: “There was a really positive response. All the employers whose lads were on the shortlist were there. 19 apprentices turned up so we were pleased. You hope the other 12 went away inspired. The employers were delighted that their apprentices were recognised.

“It will be an annual event now we’ve got the ball rolling.”

McGinlay praised the awards and explained why he and his company became sponsors.

“I was an apprentice that came through the Glasgow College of Building and Printing, I thought it was time to put something back," he said.

"The apprentices were all young and enthusiastic, smart and presentable. It was quite encouraging to see that. The industry as a whole has a problem attracting young people but there’s a future in this industry if you just keep your head down and get on with it.”

Rixon, who is also a GES non-exececutive director representing printing technology manufacturing, said: "It was great to see so many young people supported by their friends and family take pride in their achievements. 

"Printing is a real skill and one that we need to support and encourage so I was proud to be associated with the apprenticeship scheme and the awards themselves on behalf of HP." 

The awards were once held by the City of Glasgow College, which the former Glasgow College of Building and Printing merged into, but were stopped along with print college courses. Now all Scottish print apprenticeships are administered by GES and fully provided in the workplace.

Cooper said: “We thought there was an increasing need to draw attention to apprenticeships. We’re trying to encourage apprenticeships to achieve more and employers to invest more.

“I think there’s still a general feeling through the system that children would be encouraged to take on further education and generally speaking that means university. We’re trying to get employers, parents and schools to see the benefit of apprenticeships.”

He said sometimes apprenticeships can be a tough sell at events like parents’ evenings, when up against the perceived high-status institutions like Edinburgh and Glasgow Universities but GES tried to get young people to understand that there are many routes to success.

“It doesn’t have to be through a degree. You get paid for learning. The reality of our industry is that wherever you start in our industry you can end up anywhere you like, you’re only limited by your ambition. There is no glass ceiling.”

As if to prove the point, GES's next president, due to formally take over at the next AGM in June, Stephen Docherty started as an apprentice. Now he is the co-owner and managing director of Bell & Bain.

Indeed, according to Cooper, doing a print apprenticeship can even get you further than a university degree.

“If you want to work abroad and you’re looking for a job in Australia or anywhere, if you say you’re on a Heidelberg four-colour Speedmaster they know that, a lot of the time, it’s exactly the same machinery. The skills and experience is all transferrable. It’s all recognised in other countries,” he said.

The other winners were:

Digital print production apprentice of the year - Aaron Curley, J Thomson Colour

Level 2 machine printing apprentice of the year- Lachlan Johnston, Meigle Colour Printers

Level 2 mechanised print finishing and binding apprentice of the year - Callum Brash, Tradeprint

Level 3 digital print production apprentice of the year- Lewis Maitland, Service Graphics.

Level 3 machine printing apprentice of the year - Ross Veitch, CV Labels

Level 3 mechanised print finishing and binding apprentice of the year - Daryl Naismith, Bell & Bain

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