The Stationers’ Company collaborated with Ravensbourne University London to launch a new apprenticeship initiative that will work to solidify the future of the industry.
On Wednesday (27 June), 30 companies from a wide range of sectors, including print, came together in Greenwich for Apprentice 18 – a showcase of the possibilities available to school pupils who choose to go into apprenticeships after finishing their studies.
Around 400 students from schools across Greater London were in attendance. Set out on stands across two levels at Ravensbourne, companies engaged in short ‘speed dating’-style talks with pupils to lay out what schemes and opportunities the sector could offer.
The one-day event was the brainchild of Stationers’ past master Helen Esmonde.
“Our main interest for today lay in the fact that our industries and their histories originate from the training and support of apprentices,” she said. “We wanted to raise the profile of apprenticeships among both companies and students and then bring both of those communities together.
“To that end, we can foster long-term links for the future of the industries. I have seen an excellent level of engagement among students in attendance. Apprentice 19 is definite and will certainly be even bigger and better than this year.”
Companies from across the print sector were also in attendance. Papermaker GF Smith and merchant Premier Paper showcased alternative routes into creative industries, while Heidelberg and Ricoh were on hand to talk about opportunities in the manufacturing sector.
FE Burman showed off its wares to prospective apprentices
FE Burman managing director Michael Burman and creative and technical lead Roger White, a one-time apprentice himself, attended with a plethora of printed matter from a number of creative and dynamic jobs the London-based printer had worked on in the past.
“What we are trying to show the kids today is that there is more to print than simply ink on paper,” said White. “I started working for FE Burman at the age of 16 by knocking on Michael’s door and pestering him for a job.
“It’s a testament to our company and the industry at large that I have progressed into the position I now enjoy. Seeing the curiosity of the students over the tech involved in print has been very encouraging.”
While print companies such as Paragon and Hobs attended of their own volition, the BPIF invited Pureprint, DG3, Boss Print, Precision and Romax to collaborate in a space dedicated to the print industry – advertised as “the biggest industry you’ve never thought of”.
BPIF chief executive Charles Jarrold said: “Engaging with schools is a very big deal for us and it is crucial that we show students the scope and variety of the print industry. It has been six months in the making with Helen at Stationers’ as the driving force behind it.
“I have been very encouraged to see so many students interested in the possible apprenticeships offered by our selection of printers – we have a real variety.”
The manufacturing, media, services and tech sectors were further represented across the afternoon with appearances by the BBC, ITV, the London Evening Standard, Google, Barclays, BT and more talking about modern apprenticeships.
Exhibitors speaking to PrintWeek alluded that the event was notably London-centric, an issue that Esmonde, Jarrold and Neil Lovell, chief executive of the Printing Charity, one of the sponsors, indicated they would be keen to address as they develop from the pilot event.
Lovell said: “We want to encourage the industry to see the value in this event, so we can bring it out of London in future years. We hope the afternoon has shown printers how easy it is to just come along and talk to young people and register their interest.
“I spoke to one student who said they were going to go away and apply for a print apprenticeship tonight, so it is critical that we encourage that enthusiasm in areas of the country outside of the capital.”