Print Trailblazer – a new type of apprenticeship scheme devised by employers – has now received government approval after more than three years of talks.
First submitted unsuccessfully to the government in July 2014, the scheme is intended to allow employers to design apprenticeships to their own standards and expectations.
A Trailblazer Consortium including the BPIF, union Unite, Ryedale Group, De La Rue and the Printing Charity has been working on getting government approval for the scheme, which was ultimately confirmed yesterday (5 March).
BPIF programme director Ursula Daly said: “After three years of battling, we have now finally passed the first stage. The next stage is for the consortium to come up with an assessment plan for apprentices.
“This is a positive step in a process that is really important to us as an industry. Delays were a result of some major roadblocks, such as the government’s insistence on a single pathway – combining pre-press, press and post-press.
“It took a lot of support from the industry and organisations such as PrintWeek, to convince them that the three pathways must remain separate. Now we can finally move forward.”
The Print Trailblazer initiative will aim to provide a clearer and more attractive definition of the industry and its opportunities for young people, clarifying the journey apprentices and employees go on together, and identifying what skills, knowledge and behaviours are needed to succeed.
“Where potential apprentices would once have to leaf through 70 or more pages to find the few details they need, this information will now be distilled into a document around five pages that will contain everything they require,” said Daly.
“I hope that will have the impact of attracting more people into apprenticeships, coupled with our efforts to work in schools, at recruitment fairs and with employers to get the word out there and fight for the next generation of print.”
Consortium chair James Buffoni, managing director at Ryedale Group and non-executive director for the BPIF, thanked all involved in the negotiation process.
He said: “We can now move towards the creation of durable and practical delivery and assessment criteria which will help future apprentices and employers forge a meaningful career path.”
Through its own efforts, the government aims to generate three million new apprenticeship positions, across a range of industries, by 2020 and has introduced a levy on the largest 2% of UK companies with the aim of raising £2.8bn this year to fund their creation.
In August-October 2017, 114,400 people began new apprenticeships in England, which represented a 49,800 (30%) drop on the year before.