The print industry’s preference for the new trailblazer apprenticeship to offer options to specialise in pre-press, printing or finishing has been granted following “unprecedented” feedback from companies in the sector regarding the plans.
Progress had stalled after the government demanded that the apprenticeship covered all three processes within a single qualification, without any option to specialise, which the employer-led body developing the new scheme thought was impractical.
“When the government came back and said it wanted all three to be covered rather than a core with options, the unanimous feeling of the consortium was that it was inappropriate,” said Ryedale Group managing director James Buffoni, who chairs the consortium. “It is unlikely that you would cover all three areas in your career, never mind during an apprenticeship.”
The BPIF solicited the industry’s opinion earlier this year to help build a stronger case for the consortium’s view.
“The response has been unprecedented, unanimous and shown major vim and vigour,” said Buffoni. “The support of PrintWeek has been key in getting the feedback from the market and enabling us to make a strong case.”
Last week Buffoni met with the newly-formed Institute for Apprenticeships (IFA) to present the consortium's case again, including the feedback from the 50 entities that responded to the consortium's call to arms.
As a result, on 1 June, the print trailblazer consortium got approval to continue development of a core standard with three options.
“Prior to that we were concerned that we’d reached an impasse; now we feel like we’re back on track after a long time when we couldn’t progress,” he said.
BPIF programme director Ursula Daly said: “One of the reasons we chose the deadline we did (at end of March) for the industry’s responses was that we knew the IFA was being set up. We had a feeling that it would better understand the situation.”
Daly added that the next step for the trailblazer consortium was to secure approval on this standard from the IfA and then put together the assessment plan, all of which is expected to be completed in 2018.
The print consortium includes the BPIF, Unite the Union, Ryedale Group, Oxuniprint, BCQ Group, CDi Yorkshire, Multi Packaging Solutions, Westferry Printers, Page Bros, De La Rue and The Printing Charity.