02 June 2019 Business

Trailblazer apprenticeship clears final hurdle to approval

Trainees joining the printing industry can be a confident that they will receive consistent training towards a life long career in the industry.

The first trainees to sign up for the Print Technician Standard Level 3 could be beginning their apprenticeships in August.

It brings to an end a four year campaign and work to creating the Trailblazer standard by individuals and companies from across the industry. Now training courses will be created and assessment bodies will be trained to be able to hand qualifications to the trainees at the end of the training period,

“I still can’t really believe it,” says Ursula Daly, BPIF training manager. “I’m really pleased and hugely relieved.” All trainees need to undergo across the board learning before opting for prepress, press and post-press technician positions. The consortium had to argue the case for this level of specialisation, which is unique to print, to government. Approval was granted at the start of last year.”

The Trailblazer provides a clear standard for performance and progression as defined by a consortium of employers, and as part of the wider career path in the print industry.

James Buffoni, managing director of Rydedale and chairman of the consortium, says: “We’re all delighted to have got the Trailblazer approved. It’s been a longer process than anticipated but, as we went along, we continually checked and maintained with employers that the Standard was absolutely necessary for the good of the industry.

“This is because Level 3 forms a really important rung on the career ladder. It gives people perhaps their first opportunity to take on new responsibilities in the form of supervisory and team leader roles with confidence, both to better themselves and the Companies that they work for.

“I’ve met plenty of industry leaders who have benefited from apprenticeships in the early days, I’d hope that this Standard could help to launch the future leaders of the industry.

“Personally, that’s the main reason why I got involved and I met some more great Industry fellows along the way. I’d like to thank the members of the Consortium and the BPIF for their continued support throughout.”

Now the aim is to secure support for a Level 2 Trailblazer, something that is meeting government resistance. Daly argues that print needs this entry level training is essential to attract recruits that come from a troubled background and where such youngsters have flourished after joining the print industry.

“We have submitted proposals, but these have been rejected so far,” she says. It is a questions of ensuring that the wording of the presentation chimes with government expectations. The argument is being won she says.

“If you are a print finisher you can be expected to run a guillotine or a folder for example. At Level 3 you will be qualified to run five or six pieces of equipment without supervision. At Level 2 you will be expected to run just one or two pieces of equipment and then with supervision.

“And then when these youngster have found their feet, they can go on to Level 3 which may be a step too far when first joining the industry. Some of them need that sort of stepping stone.”

Immediately there will be a focus on getting assessment bodies ready to check that the training given meets the new standard. Training providers will need to create the courses that fit the requirements. GQA has indicated that it will step to offer assessments.

At the same time printers and those in the industry will need to explain the scheme to schools and their students. Some printers have been welcomed by schools; others have found that the door is closed. The Brexit issue is also creating a lack of confidence among potential employers

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James Buffoni

James Buffoni

It has taken longer to gain the approval, and it comes at a time when needed badly. Now the Trailblazer apprenticeship paves the way for print to take a modern approach to attracting talent.

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