Trailblazer scheme gains final government approval


The Print Trailblazer Level 3 scheme has now won full government approval, with first uptake expected at the start of the next academic year.

Approval came through to the BPIF from the Institute for Apprenticeship and Technical Education (IFATE) on Friday (24 May), confirming the decision from the final stage of the proposal that began in February.

The BPIF worked with a consortium of industry figures including chair James Buffoni, managing director of Ryedale Group, vice-chair Ian Wilton, operations director of CDS, and representatives from BCQ Group, De La Rue, Reach, the Printing Charity, Unite the Union and more to develop the scheme.

It gives print companies a new framework and standard from which to train Level 3 apprentices, with new end-point assessments based around knowledge, skills and behaviours (KSBs) which are design to contain cross-discipline transferable aspects.

Employers can now begin to develop new training courses for their apprentices based off the fully approved Trailblazer scheme.

BPIF programme director Ursula Daly said: “I think the biggest benefit of Trailblazer is the introduction of behaviours to the assessment and it will be interesting to see how this turns out and changes how trainees are developed within print companies.

“All [pre-existing] apprenticeship frameworks are set to be withdrawn by the government in 2021 so it is good to get this approval and avoid the risks and impacts to our sector.

“Some feedback from people so far has been that it is unclear what has changed with the introduction of Trailblazer and so you can expect to hear more communications from us, in plain English, to make sure people understand what is on offer to apprentices.”

The Trailblazer standard is built out of a core print technician course which includes specialist options for pre-press, press and post-press. With the standard initially approved in 2018, the past year saw the development of the assessment plan to gain full and final approval from the IfATE.

A key next step will be for assessment organisations to sign on to the government’s register of approved end assessment organisations in line with the Trailblazer’s new end assessment-based structure.

Daly is working now on the development of the Level 2 Trailblazer application, which she hopes to submit to the government in July to move the process forward ahead of the 2021 withdrawal of all frameworks.

She asked for any print sector members interested in helping to get in touch so they could join the consortium and assist with the proposal’s development.

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