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Wed, Nov

Heaven sent opportunity

Heard of Brief Cases? It’s a model for co-operation between academia and industry, to ensure the right talent gets to the right jobs. Its founder Veronica Heaven wants large-format print companies to get involved, so should you?

The list of universities signed up to the Brief Cases education-into-industry scheme is pretty impressive. The list of partnering printers isn’t. According to initiative founder Veronica Heaven, getting PSPs on board could “absolutely solve the problem of getting the right talent in the right areas.” But, put bluntly, print companies are yet to put their hands in their pockets to buy into the scheme, which sees universities and companies from across industry working together to deliver degree modules for undergraduates. A post-grad pilot will also commence this coming September.

Developed by Heaven as an adjunct to The Heaven Company – a CSR strategy and communications business she formed in 2011 – Brief Cases has been running since 2012 and now has 1,000 student participants each year. A smattering of those of those from graphic communications courses spoke at Ipex 2017 with the hope that they would help ignite a fire under the print sector and spark involvement. None of those students had specifically been to a print company as part of their course, and as Heaven says quite candidly, “we need the industry’s engagement to help shape print modules, have work placements and business mentors for the students, and help us create a sustainable industry for the future.”

So how does Brief Cases work? Well, basically, partnered universities (full list here) run a Brief Cases module - formed with industry input – as a mandatory part of a degree course and taken by second-year undergraduates. The modules differ, depending on the partners involved, but the basic model has been designed to fit various courses. For instance, Iggesund works with Brief Cases on three separate modules, all within the packaging space. The bottom-line is that the programme needs companies to sponsor each course, so to get large-format sector specific modules underway, large-format PSPs need to fork out.

“We need PSPs to pay to take part, but perhaps they could work in networked groups,” says Heaven, who explains that involved companies would help shape the Brief Cases modules, providing them the opportunity to develop the skills required for their own future development. “The intention is to shape what students learn to have them business ready,” she enthuses. “Companies are good at recruiting from competitors, but what if your competitors don’t have the skills you require to diversify and develop?” It’s a good point, and one the large-format sector continually makes.

“We have universities in place that could work with a PSP to provide a Brief Cases module in whatever stream they require – so in software development for instance if IT is an area where they are finding it difficult to recruit people with the right skills and focus. This isn’t necessarily about providing training for straightforward print and design students.”

Heaven continues: “We also want companies to take on work placements, ideally for those in the third year of their degree courses. And we need mentors who will talk to small forums of students, doing so perhaps half a day a month.”

The intention is laudable and benefits of Brief Cases patently clear, so no doubt one of the key reasons printers are yet to join businesses from other sectors - like architecture, brewing - in getting with the plan, is that it costs. Heaven won’t be drawn on specifics, aware that putting “a price on it tends to frighten people.” But she does say that the level a company pays for Brief Cases sponsorship “depends on what the PSP involved wants to achieve - how many universities they want to work with etc.”

And, as Heaven points out, “it’s a social investment for a company’s own benefit and long term gain - and not that long term either - and not just in terms of the talent they help shape to their own requirement, but being part of the scheme gets them in front of institutions and councils and promotes them as forward thinking businesses.” Sounds like a message worth heeding.

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