Sat, Aug

BPIF requests your urgent input on apprenticeships

The BPIF is asking for the whole industry’s help to ensure single standard apprenticeships do not reduce levels of expertise in print. The federation has issued the following open letter in a bid to get PSPs involved.

In March 2015 a consortium of employers led by James Buffoni of Ryedale Group secured Trailblazer - a new employer-defined standard for apprenticeship programmes - for the print industry. The standards are employer owned, relate to specific occupations, and feature a graded end point assessment. The Trailblazer secured is to develop a Level 3 standard that covers pre-press, press and post-press (finishing). The government awarded the Trailblazer as a core with options, with print as the core and the options as pre-press, press and post press (finishing).

Through many focused meetings, the consortium has produced a standard which has been reviewed by the industry and, following feedback, adjusted and submitted to Government. This standard was approved by the Trailblazer panel but it was approved subject to certain conditions being met. These conditions are what the BPIF are seeking input on.

The condition applied by the government panel is that the options are combined so that there is a single standard and an apprentice would need to master all three areas i.e. pre-press, press and post-press before they would be able to pass their apprenticeship. Several drafts have been resubmitted in order to represent the views of the consortium as well as to the Trailblazer panel conditions.

The feedback has been that the position from the panel has not changed and they are still insisting that it is a single core standard. This essentially means that any new apprentice in the printing industry would need to master pre-press, printing and post-press before they would be able to complete.

The BPIF believe that this requirement is impractical because it is not realistic to expect an apprentice to reach the level of technical and practical knowledge and expertise across all of these areas, to a level that employers require from their staff. The concern is that this requirement may therefore reduce overall levels of expertise compared with those achieved under the existing apprenticeship training approach. It would have significant impact for some companies on pay rates as there would be no difference between the three roles.

The BPIF sees no value in going back to the panel again, however, the Institute for Apprenticeships (IfA) is well underway with the key appointments to the board announced last week. Print sits under the Engineering and Manufacturing Route Panel which will be made up of industry representatives and not civil servants. On that basis the BPIF believes that the current challenge on Trailblazer could be resolved if they could speak directly with the panel.

To make this happen the BPIF needs your support. If you believe that a single standard will be inappropriate to the print industry, or have a specific concern, get in contact with BPIF programme director Ursula Daly at ursula.daly@bpif.org.uk, or visit  www.britishprint.com/printtrailblazer. The closing date for input is 31 March 2017.