GSCE and A Level students are currently taking part in the eighth PrintIT! Print and Packaging competition.
The competition takes place from September to March and aims to bring together schools and the printing and packaging industry.
Last year 8,213 students from 152 schools took part. So far in 2012, 1,700 students have registered and schools have until February to register to be involved. Prizes last year included a digital printer, waterproof cameras and Xaar microscopes.
The competition is funded by print companies GVMC ltd, Antalis Mcnaughton and Heidelberg. Last year, TJ International and LTD limited were two of the print firms that were twinned with local schools.
Ami Lewis, marketing and skills programme executive for Proskills, said twinning companies with schools was important for students.
"It’s not always easy to get companies to take part in the twinning programme, but setting up either a visit to the company’s premises or a talk at the school is a really valuable part of the competition," she said.
Schools work on the competition over the course of six to eight weeks and concentrate on the Fairtrade brand. The teaching programme and materials are provided by Proskills.
There are two branches of the competition - one is aimed at Media Studies students and the other is aimed at Graphic Products and Product Design students.
Media Studies students carry out three assignments. The first is an analysis of publicity posters, the second is the planning and production of a Fairtrade poster campaign and the third is an evaluation of the campaign.
Graphic Products students, Product Design students or students studying for a diploma in Manufacturing and Product Design research and design two Fairtrade point-of-sale products.
They then identify the most cost-effective and sustainable materials, as well as investigating manufacturing processes and the different considerations and constraints of each product. Finally, they research and report on the product’s life-cycle.
The three finalists will be announced and invited to an award ceremony in July.