Sky's the Limit for Print Training!

15 June, 2017

Standards of achievement and numbers in enrolment continue to rise significantly in New Zealand’s print training programmes, as clearly evidenced by the richly competitive contest for the 2017 PrintNZ Apprentice of the Year Award.

Such is the unabashed observation of PrintNZ general manager Ruth Cobb, given the extremely high calibre of candidates who vied for this year’s top award making the judges’ decision “one the most challenging to date”.

“It is fantastic to see our employers backing their employees in good number and for that potential to be fully realised, as per this year’s very deserving Apprentice of the Year Award winner Myra Anderson of,” says Ms Cobb.

“PrintNZ is totally committed to training -- it is the lifeblood of our industry and the skills required now are more complex than ever. As technology continues to evolve, those working in the industry have to embrace and adapt to those changes.

“Employers who recognise the need to both train new staff and retrain existing employees as appropriate, provide significant benefit to those individuals as well as their businesses and customers alike.”

Ms Cobb says it is very satisfying to see trainees, their employers and families fully embracing the annual Training Graduation Ceremonies, at which every successful trainee “has the chance to have their hard work recognised”.

“Our commitment to this process begins with the graduation ceremonies and culminates in the naming of the Apprentice of the Year each year. Due recognition is also provided to the businesses and individuals in those businesses that support training programmes via the Training Company of the Year Award and Trainer of the Year Award.

“This year those two awards were won by Soar Print Group and PMP Auckland print manager Tony Reid, respectively -- without those people, we wouldn’t have such successful industry trainees.”

Vital to PrintNZ’s role in encouraging businesses to both bring new employees into the industry and to further develop their employees’ skills, is its partnership with industry training organisation (ITO), Competenz, adds Ms Cobb.

“PrintNZ works closely with Competenz to ensure that the appropriate training is available and remains relevant, that changes to technology are embraced in the training material that is available and that new programmes are developed where necessary.

“And these are not just the base trade skills. Working with Competenz has allowed us to offer the industry a much broader choice of training options including sales, first-line management, health and safety, lean manufacturing and business administration. Every person in a business has an opportunity to learn.”

Competenz general manager industry training Jim MacBride-Stewart describes successful industry training as a “true collaboration” between employers, industry, the ITO and those “dedicated to learning their craft”.

“All have a part to play in the success of apprentices and trainees, as well as the outcomes for industry and in turn, a productive New Zealand,” he says.

“As one of the primary influencers in the New Zealand print industry, PrintNZ has supported the sector for more than 100 years. And print, packaging and signwriting are industries Competenz, as ITO, has gazetted coverage for.

“Competenz works closely with PrintNZ to ensure qualification training outcomes are fit for purpose and continually updated.”

Competenz draws on the expertise from PrintNZ’s members for their trade insights and understanding to develop the qualifications, says Mr MacBride-Stewart.

“We support industry apprentices as they receive on-the-job training with their employers through dedicated training advisors regularly making site visits to monitor progress. As well as assessing and moderating training delivery as necessary, Competenz will also arrange any off-job, or classroom-based, learning if required.

“Competenz links to the New Zealand Qualifications Authority to ensure all print industry graduates receive certification recognised on the New Zealand Qualifications Framework.

“The print industry takes an active role in the promotion of print, packaging and signwriting careers to young people. Competenz participates in the annual ‘Got a Trade? Got it Made!’ national trades and services careers promotion -- a collaboration of nine industry training organisations.

“The industry is very supportive of this initiative and participates in employer activities like the Big Bus Tours and the Future Business Leader’s Awards and Forum. Competenz appoints a print ambassador -- an apprentice from the industry -- to support our careers activity and national promotion.”

Mr MacBride-Stewart emphasises the fundamental importance of training to maintain skills and standards in the print industry. But moreover, from a young person’s perspective, he emphasises that an apprenticeship presents excellent appeal when compared to other tertiary study.

“An apprenticeship will often take the same amount of time as a degree. However, the apprentice is earning and learning and this can mean they are on a fast track to success. They are often the first to achieve significant life milestones like buying a car or a house and will graduate without a hefty student loan.

“Many employers in the print industry invest in apprentices and other forms of on-the-job learning as a way of giving back to their industries and ensuring their trade keeps pace with change and continues to thrive. And, as our population ages, the importance of this form of youth development resonates.

“While apprenticeships have always been available as a next step for school-leavers, recent changes in legislation mean that anyone, at any age, can enter into an apprenticeship. There is also increased focus on apprenticeships in New Zealand with a Government-led goal of having 50,000 people in apprenticeships by 2020 (the current number of apprentices in the country is 40,000).”

Looking ahead, Mr MacBride-Stewart says Competenz is continually reviewing how learning is delivered to ensure it continues to provide the best training opportunities.

“The world of training and training delivery is rapidly changing and at the same time the digital landscape is influencing the way the print industry operates. Through ongoing collaboration between employers and the industry, Competenz remains close to changes and any subsequent impact on training delivery and qualification outcomes.

“Online learning is already widely in use and emerging technologies, like virtual reality (VR), are likely to influence training delivery in the future. While opportunities like VR are ‘future tech’, as they become more accessible it is likely that print graduates will be able to experience all aspects of the print industry -- sometimes beyond the workshop they are currently engaged within.”

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