The assessment plan for the print Trailblazer, drawn up by a group of print figureheads, was submitted to the Institute for Apprenticeships (IFA) on 6 February and the government review started yesterday (20 February). The response is expected at the beginning of April.
The scheme is an employer-defined standard for apprenticeship programmes. It was first picked up by the print sector in 2015 by a consortium of employers chaired by Ryedale Group managing director James Buffoni alongside vice-chair Ian Wilton, operations director at CDS.
Four years of campaigning was backed up by the BPIF, with the aim of developing a Level 3 standard that covers pre-press, press and post-press, built out of a core course with further options.
BPIF chief executive Charles Jarrold said: “The requirement for skills is as strong as ever, however the process has taken a lot longer than expected, and Brexit does create at least short-term uncertainty about business conditions and following the introduction of the apprenticeship levy there’s been a lot for organisations to get to grips with.
“For this reason, nobody wants to prejudge what will happen, however we believe that once it is approved the interest will be there.
“It’s vitally important that as an industry we complete this hard work, to ensure that we can continue to train apprentices for the future. This has been a substantial investment of time and resource by the BPIF, with huge support from the consortium, so we want to thank everyone for their commitment.”
Employers and organisations that contributed to the consortium included BCQ Group, De La Rue, Learn2Print, Leeds City College, Reach, the Printing Charity, Unite the Union and Westrock MPS.
Once the assessment plan has government approval, it must finally attain approval from the Education and Skills Funding Agency (EFSA) and, according to Jarrold, could be launching pilots under the new programme by August or September. Following this, the consortium would look to extend the modern standard to Level 2 – “another really important apprenticeship training route for the sector”, according to Jarrold.
Print companies interested in contributing to or taking part in the Trailblazer scheme have been asked to contact BPIF programme director Ursula Daly for more information.