How apprentices serve the print and design industry

Why apprentices are the foundations of the industry.

I’ve worked in the printing industry since 2004 when I was 16 years old, and like many in the industry, I started as an apprentice. Now I have the privilege of working with apprentices every day.

Those in the industry know that most of the roles in printing and design are quite difficult and take a long time to learn. Furthermore, the skills in the print industry are becoming more and more niche, and increasingly difficult to come by as the current UK workforce ageing and retiring.

As a company grows and needs qualified people to keep it running, employers need to consider how they can recruit these skills.

Training someone new can be risky but an apprentice takes the edge off this risk; it isn’t a popular subject, but the reduced wage allows the company the breathing room for training. This is a particular advantage when the apprentice has to learn something complex like lithographic printing and they may not be adding any value by running the press by themselves for a number of months.

An apprentice can be seen as cheap labour to do all the menial labour, but in reality, a modern apprentice is required to spend time training and learning how to fulfil their role, something that can only be achieved by time served. On the odd times when apprentices are given the menial jobs, in my experience, this can be a valuable resource when the alternative is to take specialist staff out of their own role.

Although the industry is a small one, it is one that will always be with us, paraphrasing what Benny Landa said: “As long as human beings need to eat, food will come in brightly decorated printed packaging.” With this in mind, it is important to acknowledge that the industry in the UK is ageing, but the need for these valuable skills is still present and evolving.

This is why I and Total People’s Digital Sector have spent the last three years rebuilding our training courses for the print industry, so that we can support apprenticeships across the North West and Midlands, with a whole range of up to date online resources and training courses on top of our standard training provision for apprentices.

There are so many benefits to an apprentice in such a technical environment where it takes so long to learn the necessary skills. Imagine being able to cost effectively train someone to fit perfectly into your organisation, who can help you grow and expand, who can train future staff, who can help keep you at the forefront of the industry and who can work hard for years to come…

I would love to hear from others in the print and design industry and your thoughts on apprentices, please leave a contact me at: charles.booth@totalpeople.co.uk.