The industry’s national training package has undergone an enhancement process, which is set to be taken up by training providers throughout the country later this year. Neal McLary, national training policy manager at Printing Industries says while the move is a positive response to a changing industry the challenge remains in attracting young people to print and retaining the ones we do have, reports Carlos Martinez
Last year Innovation and Business Skills Australia (IBSA) commissioned research for the enhancement review of the industry’s training package (ICP05). Stage one of the process involved a state by state data collection, which was analysed and shaped into potential ICP05 outcomes. Stage two required that industry advice and direction go through a process of translation into enhanced package infrastructure and outcomes, including addressing the nature of content required, qualifications, units of competency and assessment guidelines.
Neil McLary, national training policy manager at Printing Industries explains that the main reason for the review was to address the uptake of digital within the industry and develop competencies and qualifications for digital-based training. He says, “We needed competencies that were able to help employees make the transition into digital no matter their age or creed. This is one of the first occasions our qualifications have reflected the direction the industry is heading.”
Following a second round of state and territory consultation for the proposed changes and refinements of the training package, the enhancement process has now been completed with the new package (ICP10) now available for states to access. It is likely the new package will be taken up by all states by mid-year and will be available to registered training providers for the second half of 2010.
According to Printing Industries, the new package – which includes a Certificate One and Certificate Two in digital printing as well as a Diploma in digital production – will be revised and continuously improved in response to the ever changing needs of the industry. The IBSA has developed an electronic publication on its website which ensures that training providers will always have access to the most up-to-date version of the training package.
McLary continues, “By including the new digital qualifications in the training package we have added another building block to our industry’s training offerings and hopefully school leavers will see it’s an attractive package.” He says, “The qualifications are not limited to apprenticeships so it will hopefully initiate a good uptake through Australia as any digital print shop can now encourage its staff to access a qualification.”
Keeping up appearances
The National Centre for Vocational Education Research (NCVER) has released a paper examining low completion rates for apprenticeships and traineeships, looking at whether the reasons given for not completing vary by how far the individual is into their contract of training. The approach taken was to calculate the probability of apprentices and trainees giving a particular reason as their main reason for not completing, at each point in the training contract. The results were then disaggregated into three groups: trades, non-trades (male) and non-trade (female).
The paper outlined that the desire to do something different – such as study at university or get a better paid job – was the only reason remaining constant throughout the duration of the training contract. It appears that apprentices and trainees are always looking out for a better alternative.
McLary says, “It’s important for employers to understand the concerns of the generation they are working with. The younger people in the industry tend to be more flighty and are looking for more in their jobs than perhaps others did in the past.” McLary outlines that the low number of apprentices in the industry is an issue, which needs addressing.
He adds that while there has been an upturn of apprentice contracts in the last 12 months in order to hang onto these young people entering into print, the industry has to portray itself as a technologically advanced industry.
He says, “The industry has to lift its image from pure manufacturing to communications, new-comers need to understand it’s not just about putting ink on substrate and it’s not an old, smelly and dirty industry. It’s an advanced and sustainable industry with many options available, this is the message we need to get out to mums, dads and kids.”
McLary also outlines that in the past, many Aussie printers have been willing to employ apprentices, which is essential to ensuring highly qualified individuals are present in the industry’s younger generations. However more print shops need to get involved in order to sure-up the future of the industry. He encourages printers looking to recruit to speak with their local high school, Tafe or their state’s Printing Industries Association.
Outside of apprenticeships there are a large number of training programmes offered by equipment vendors in Australia such as Heidelberg’s Print Media Academy, which the company says provides training and consulting to address current and emerging technologies and business needs for the graphic communications industry.
The Melbourne-based facility at Heidelberg’s Australian headquarters hosts courses focused on improving the skills and productive competences of all participants including the well-known Next Generation course aimed at emerging talent looking to learn skills to help them reach the next level in their career development, according to Heidelberg.
The company outlines, “This intensive three day course is aimed at candidates who aspire to supervisory and management roles. The course supports participants in preparing for the next step in their career. Designed to develop the leadership and management skills necessary to step to the next level, the Next Generation course also covers topical issues facing the print media sector.”
However McLary points out that the difficulty with vendor-based trading is the often machine-based focus and excludes underlying contextual knowledge. He says, “Are participants training for a particular enterprise or the industry? Because you need to do both. They should find out if the vendor training matches registered training provider’s competencies, which will help them on their way to formal qualifications.”
The recent federal budget included an extension of the apprentice kick-start bonus, which McLary hailed as a major win to the trades of ‘printing machining’ and binding and finishing’. The Apprentice Kickstart Extension triples the first-year incentive payment to small and medium-sized employers who put on a new young apprentice in a skills shortage trade between May 12, 2010 and November 12, 2010 (inclusive).
When the programme was first introduced in December last year McLary said the decision would help make apprenticeship recruitment possible for many printing industry companies, adding that programmes like these help minimise the risk of skill shortages arising from the downfall in apprenticeship enrolments. Commenting on the latest extension, McLary says, “The introduction and continuation of this programme has certainly helped to increase the apprentice numbers in the industry, which had been declining prior to its introduction, and it’s good to see the government also sees it that way.”
Printing Industries says that during the initial Apprentice Kickstart programme Australian employers in traditional trades took on about 24 400 young apprentices. The measure was important in lifting the youth apprenticeship commencement rate to above pre-GFC levels.
Eligible recipients for the Apprentice Kickstart programme include small and medium-sized employers (less than 200 employees) and registered group training organisations, who employ an Australian apprentice who is aged 19 years and under and undertaking a Certificate III or IV level qualification that leads to a skills shortage trade occupation.
Trade occupations in national skills shortage are those listed on the National Skills Needs List (which includes the trades of printing machining and binding and finishing. The employer must also meet all other eligibility requirements under the Australian Apprenticeships Incentives Programme.
By accessing the Apprentice Kickstart Extension, employers will receive $3350 in bonus payments in addition to the existing $1500 commencement incentive if they engage and retain young traditional trade apprentices in a skills shortage area (which includes the trades of printing and binding and finishing). The existing $1500 commencement incentive payable at the three month point will be boosted by a bonus of $850 plus $2500 paid after nine months.