Apprenticeships, short courses, tailor-made training - Learn2print offers the lot. Here’s how it’s attracting and training people for a career in print.
Daily phone calls, constant emails and late night text messages are a constant reminder to the staff at Learn2print that, thankfully, education in print still matters and is sought by those seeking a career path in the industry themselves, or by those wanting to improve the skill sets and credentials of those they employ and/or want to attract into their businesses.
According to Jon Bray, founder of the Nottinghamshire-based training provider, companies and individuals, contact him saying they are struggling to find a training provider, and in particular a local provider, that now offers internationally recognised formal qualifications within the industry. Ring a bell?
Bray says: “I established Learn2print four years ago, after redundancy from a Midlands-based college, that at the time was one of the last remaining, recognised colleges in this exciting manufacturing sector. Like the other 15 or so establishments across the British Isles and highly recognised for print education, it was another one which disappeared off the map for print training. It appeared to be down to one big thing…capital investment. Colleges simply found it too expensive to keep up technology development, especially digital technology which called for serious continued investment. It became compared with training provision investment in hairdressing, media, plastering, plumbing and many other trades. The result – training establishment closures nationally.”
Enter Learn2print. It conducted surveys and engaged with various parts of the print industry before embarking on a journey that would see it develop the hands on training it considered a requisite for the industry and the companies within it. I made the decision that qualifications needed to be offered nationally by an organisation that could provide proper guidance and support,” says Bray “In the past four years we have established eleven classes from Plymouth to Newcastle, with the SQA (Scottish Qualification Authority) now wanting us to offer the same business model north of the borders.”
Learn2print works with individuals, schools, careers advisers and with those from within the print industry to bring people into the
sector on various career paths. “Working with us you can gain internationally recognised certificates to help you build on a career in the industry,” says Bray, adding: “We have worked with both City and Guilds, and the GQA awarding bodies recognised in print, to establish current, up to date qualifications which include the digital technologies. We are one of the largest established training providers, recognised internationally for formal and bespoke qualifications to the industry and our team of vocationally qualified and teacher trained staff deliver education to Ofsted’s recognised teaching standards for people from 16 to 65 years of age.”
Bray continues: “The average age in the industry has been identified as 48. I am sure you will agree, that without your action and investment the skilled workforce here will soon become hard to get hold of. You could even start paying through the roof for staff who hold the skills and knowledge you require.”
If you are looking at developing your workforce - and who wouldn’t be? - you may be thinking about apprenticeships. According to Bray, the benefits are endless. “Apprenticeships are being pushed to help you as a company, affordably invest in a workforce tailored to suit you. A £1,500 age grant for up to ten apprentices per company, along with many other local council grants are available at present to make it easier on your pockets. These grants, despite what you may think, are easily accessible and Learn2print support you every step of the way.
Learn2print has set up a support team to help recruit new apprentices and has links directly with job centres, schools and the National Apprenticeship Service. The Learn2print website is now geared to take enquires from both those wishing to develop a career in the world of print and from potential employers. The process is very straightforward, with Learn2print providing support each step of the way.
Bray explains: “The learner journey begins with a detailed induction where we establish a person’s existing skills and identify exactly what a job role will entail. We then work with all the relevant parties to select the correct pathway. We offer apprenticeships starting at Intermediate apprenticeship level 2 and moving on to the Advanced level 3 for those wishing to further advance a career in the world of print. The apprentices cover digital artworking, digital printing, machine print (litho, gravure, screen, flexo, pad) and then a full suite of print finishing and mechanised binding units.
“You can start the apprenticeship as young as 16 years of age and, with current funding initiatives from the government, it may not cost the individual or the company involved a penny - subject to status!” stresses Bray.
A typcal apprenticeship will last three to four years if the individual achieves up to Level 3.
Learn2print also offers other types of training and qualifications. For those over the age of 19, there are standalone NVQs (Vocational Qualification) in various subject areas - the modular layout means you can tailor the training package to suit the company and the trainee. Or they can study toward the Printing and Graphic Communications technical certificate. This is a knowledge qualification where someone studies relevant units and then takes formal exams. These qualifications are internationally recognised and are a more flexible approach to formal study.
If you run a print business and none of the above seem to suit your company or individual needs, then Learn2print will work with you to develop tailor-made courses to meet specific needs in print and design. Put simply, this is a bespoke service whereby you choose the topics and the content, and then the programme of learning is designed, approved and delivered by experts in the field. It’s an ideal solution if you’re wanting to develop existing staff in a certain discipline or they want to expand their horizons and you want to retain them.
“The past 15 years have seen tremendous, exciting movement into the digital world,” says Bray. “The digital print future opens really exciting possibilities for those in it and those wishing to start a career in it. 60% of those currently studying on our courses are on a digital route of some sort. The range of digital equipment and the impact of digital on the more conventional print processes, has meant the qualifications have all had to be revisited to allow for additional skills.
“Oddly, the ICT qualification has been removed from the functional skills required and is not required as the ICT technology is naturally embedded in much of the main qualification strands. So many of the companies we deal with have had to move into the digital routes to remain competitive in the industry, and it is our job to ensure we create a workforce fit for today’s and tomorrow’s society.
“The move into digital has pushed the boundaries for new skills and knowledge. It has led to a surge of the younger generation moving into print and increased numbers of women wanting to partake, in what is now seen as an exciting and far cleaner working environment. It is exactly what the industry needs. But the industry also needs to keep investing in its people as a current and a future resource.”