Training is a bugbear to many a large-format print provider - many companies citing issues such as irrelevant apprenticeship schemes as problematic for the sector. So, with the BPIF the largest supplier of apprenticeships to the UK printing industry, I went to talk with Karly Lattimore, the federation’s managing director of training, on how this sector can be better served.
By Lesley Simpson
First up, can you just clarify where the BPIF stands on training? What exactly is its role?
The BPIF is proud to be a grade 2 Ofsted provider - the biggest provider of print and print related apprenticeships in England. Currently it offers apprenticeships across two sectors. Of course we offer the print apprenticeships, and these are at level 2 and level 3. At level 2 we currently offer the apprenticeship frameworks in machine print, pre-press, print finishing and print administration, and at level 3 we have the newly approved print technician standard with the option of three pathways - pre-press, press and post press.
We also offer apprenticeships to support other areas of print businesses, including customer service and business administration at level 2 and 3, and our highly valued management programmes at level 3 and 5.
We have almost 600 apprentices who are currently undertaking one of our apprenticeship programmes. Since 2015 we have enrolled over 1,200 individuals to one of our schemes and we have over 700 apprentices who have successfully completed their programme. We are proud that of the learners who have achieved their apprenticeship, 95% of them have sustained their employment and a further 2% using the apprenticeship as a springboard into further and higher education.
As well as apprenticeship provision the BPIF also offers short training courses to meet the needs of the industry, including health and safety training, HR training and team leading workshops. Whilst these are currently not fully funded we are exploring opportunities to support the industry in subsidising this training.
Does the BPIF work with other print industry/training bodies to define training course requirements and course content? I’m wondering what happened with the GPMA for instance?
The priority of the BPIF at the moment is ensuring that we can have continuance of apprenticeships designed specifically for the print industry.
The BPIF, in conjunction with a consortium of industry including The Print Charity, BCQ Group, Unite the Union, De La Rue, Leeds College, Learn to Print, Reach PLC and the Rydale group amongst others defined the level 3 employee owned print standard which is current for the industry. Despite the recent approval of this, this is now under review so the BPIF and the consortium are again working to ensure that we protect the industry standard.
Alongside this we are working with industry to develop a level 2, entry-level standard into the industry to replace the discontinuation of the current apprenticeship framework in July 2020.
We are always looking to progress relationships with the sector to ensure that we are able to offer appropriate and high quality courses.
My readers are owners/directors of large-format digital inkjet print companies. Now I understand that the BPIF wants to get closer to companies in this sector so how involved are you in talking to them about sector specific training needs - and do you think you should be the body to deliver?
Currently we offer apprenticeships across the two sectors, technical print and the business skills sectors however our aim is to be able to support any training need in the industry. We recognise the way the industry is changing and in responding to feedback from the industry we are close to introducing the digital skills technician standard which will help organisations to maximise the use of digital technologies and adapt to and exploit changes in technology to meet organisational objectives.
As well as this we are looking at further training opportunities to support both long and short-term training needs of our industry.
The BPIF offers a number of bursaries. Do you have many from within the large-format sector applying for them - and should they?
We can help employers of any size access funding for apprenticeship provision. If you are a small business either hire an apprentice or choose to upskill an existing member of your workforce the Education and Skills Funding Agency will fund 95% of the apprenticeship with the employer paying the remaining 5% contribution. For example, for a printer with an apprentice on the print technician apprenticeship, which is costed at £12,000, the employer will contribute £600 with the ESFA funding the remaining 95%.
If you are a large employer and contribute to the apprenticeship levy the funding for the apprenticeship will come directly from your levy pot. If the levy pot cannot fund the full cost of the apprenticeship then the difference will be paid using the methodology above. The BPIF can support both apprenticeship levy paying organisations and the smaller printers in accessing funding.
Other bursaries are available to support individuals to upskill toward their career aspirations. Individuals looking to undertake the BPIF MSc in Management can apply to have a significant amount of their fees paid, thanks to a £6000 bursary from The Stationers Foundation funded by The Printing Charity.
The Printing Charity also fund the Print Futures Award which has supported more than 400 people across the print, paper and packaging industries. Those ages 18-30 years are eligible to apply to us for a grant of up to £1,500 to support their personal and workplace skills development. Applications for both grants are now open and further information can be found on the BPIF website.
What does the BPIF do to get print industry career/training options in front of ‘new blood’ – and does the message represent all areas?
The BPIF School Engagement Programme is actively being created to help bridge the much publicised skills and age gap, along with addressing diversity and social inclusion in the industry.
The programme will ensure the future generations are informed of the print, media, digital and graphics industry as an exciting career path. We are starting the conversation with the industry to raise awareness of what their federation is doing to help them educate future generations. The BPIF is starting the conversation with members to make them aware of what their federation is doing to help them educate future generations about print and career opportunities in print.
We also have a fantastic new area on our website detailing information for employers, schools and individuals about the benefits of being in the industry.
How does the BPIF ensure its training offer is current and relevant to all within the print industry?
We value feedback we receive and we are responsive in reviewing our provision in line with employer and industry needs.
Whilst we offer apprenticeships and work within a clear curriculum, employers benefit from the flexibility we allow in apprenticeships to enhance any aspects to meet their specific needs, and also the opportunity to extend the curriculum by adding bespoke industry and organisation training. In fact, in our most recent employer survey commissioned by the DFE, 95% of our employers with an apprentice commented that our training reflects up to date practices in their industry, and 97% are feeding back that the BPIF understand the training needs of their industry well.