Printing charity to help plug skills gap

The Printing Charity wants to help plug a skills gap as workers head towards retirement age in an industry going through rapid change.

The charity is looking for applicants for Print Futures, a programme to fund training for 16-30 year-olds.

It is estimated that 80 per cent of the workforce are aged over 50.

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Stephen Gilbert, chief executive, said: “We have to train the next generation because we have a cohort of people who are going to retire.”

The print and associated creative and digital industries are a big contributor to the regional economy and employ more than 120,000 people in Yorkshire.

Mr Gilbert said: “We take printed material and all of its associated words and graphics for granted because it surrounds us.

“It is such an important part of our daily lives. We need youngsters to come in and keep an ecomomically important sector going.”

Print Futures provides grants of up to £1,500 for young people who want to learn new skills or develop existing ones in a fast-changing industry.

Mr Gilbert said the industry is large and thriving and evolving quickly with the advent and adoption of new technology.

He added: “There have been huge productivity gains at the cost of jobs. We have global competition. The quality of print coming out of China and India is very high.

“The UK can compete and does compete (because of) it’s ability to be flexible and react to short-term needs. Industry now works on just in time. If you get it printed in China, you have to ship it in.

“The other thing we are ahead in is sheer innovation. There is huge innovation going on up here in Yorkshire.”

The Ryedale Group is a good example, he said, of a business using print in an imaginative and innovative way.

The Kirkbymoorside company specialises in print on plastic technologies for a wide range of blue chip clients.

The charity administered 26 grants via the Print Futures programme last year and plans to increase this to 36 in 2015.

It wants to hear from applicants who must be able to attend an interview in London.

The organisation is the second oldest occupational charity in Britain after the clockmakers and was founded in 1827. Its first patron was Queen Victoria.

The charity is backed by £30m and spends around £2m a year; its investments generate an income of £750,000 to £800,000 a year, said Mr Gilbert.

The charity helped 660 people last year, plans to increase this to 700 in 2015 and aims to reach 2,000 by 2017.

Mr Gilbert is keen on partnership working to avoid duplicating efforts, for which he said charities are rightly criticised.

“You get more bang for your buck. We can help more people,” he said.

The Printing Charity works with the Prince’s Trust in Yorkshire and last November announced a new partnership with the Rory Peck Trust.

This provides safety training for freelance journalists and photographers to help keep them out of harm’s way while reporting from danger zones.

The charity has also teamed up with The Yorkshire Post to fund an internship for Ismail Mulla, an up-and-coming journalist from Dewsbury.

Support for training costs

The Print Futures awards were launched in 2003 to help help people fund costs associated with a relevant training course in printing, publishing or the graphic arts.

They are open to people who are aged between 16 and 30, are resident in the UK, are already working in printing, publishing or the graphic arts and would like to undertake short courses or training sessions to develop their skills or intend studying or are already studying for a job in printing, publishing or the graphic arts in the UK.

Grants of up to £1,500 each are available to help pay for any costs associated with a relevant training course.

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