Print trailblazer development at the final hurdle

On 6 February 2019 the Print Trailblazer Consortium submitted the assessment plan for the print trailblazer to the Institute for Apprenticeships (IfA), part of the Department for Education. This is the final stage in securing approval from Government to start the delivery of the new programmes. This has been a long and sometimes challenging battle to get to this point.

The journey started in March 2015 when a consortium of employers led by James Buffoni of Ryedale Group Ltd secured the trailblazer (a new employer-defined standard for apprenticeship programmes) for the 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 produced a standard which was approved by the Government Trailblazer Panel but it was approved subject to certain conditions being met. The condition applied by the panel was that the options were combined, so that there would be 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. Thanks to support from across the industry we were successful in overturning the Government’s decision and approval for the full core with options standard was achieved in March 2018.

The consortium have worked hard over the last year to define the assessment plan, which will support the standard. This has now been given the stamp of approval from our relationship manager at the IfA, and feedback from Ofqual (External Quality Assurance Company) is that we have a good assessment plan, which is now being considered for approval. This has been a challenging process and has required considerable input from the consortium but especially from our Chair James Buffoni and our Vice Chair Ian Wilton. We appreciate the support of the consortium and would like to thank the companies involved, BCQ Group, BPIF, CDi, CDS, De La Rue, GQA, Learn2Print, Leeds City College, PageBros, Reach Plc, Ryedale Group, The Printing Charity, Unite the Union and Westrock – MPS.

The 2019 Print Futures Awards are open for entries

The 2019 Print Futures Awards are open for entries

The Printing Charity has launched its 2019 Print Futures Awards supporting workplace skills and routes into employment in the UK printing, paper, publishing, packaging, and graphic arts sector.


Applications for grants of up to £1,500 are invited from UK residents aged 18 to 30 years, who:

  • are apprentices or studying for NVQs in UK print-related organisations
  • are already working in UK print-related organisations and looking to develop their workplace skills
  • are completing a recognised UK qualification and intending to take their first print-related role in the sector in 2019


Applicants will need to show a clear plan, including costings, of how the financial support will help develop their workplace skills or enhance their employability if they are starting out in the sector.

The closing date for applications is midnight on 29 April 2019. For more information and to complete the application online, please see

Neil Lovell, The Printing Charity’s Chief Executive, says: “We will consider applications for things such as post education internships; relevant training courses; professional accreditation; and kit and equipment where applicants can demonstrate they are beneficial to their studies, training, and development.

“We know from the sector that attracting more young people to it is vitally important and these Awards respond to that call. We are asking businesses, particularly SMEs, to get behind this year’s Awards and encourage their eligible staff to apply. Awards, however, cannot be used to pay employers’ staff training costs.”

A panel of judges from across the sector will interview shortlisted applicants in London in early June and the winners will be presented with their Awards at a special event in London in July.

This year’s Print Futures Awards are sponsored by SAXOPRINT, The Book Trade Charity and Unite the Union GPM & IT Sector, and supported by the British Printing Industries Federation (BPIF), the Journalists’ Charity and St Bride Foundation.

Lionel Barber accepts second term as The Printing Charity’s President

Lionel Barber accepts second term as The Printing Charity’s President

The Printing Charity announced at its 191st Annual Luncheon on 22 November at Stationers’ Hall, London, that Lionel Barber, Editor of the Financial Times, has kindly accepted its invitation to serve a second term as the charity’s President.

As the event’s guest speaker and the charity’s 2018 President, Lionel Barber spoke engagingly about his four decades in the news business, starting as a cub reporter at The Scotsman where he valued the skills learnt as an apprentice, before moving to The Sunday Times, followed by his appointment as editor of the Financial Times in 2005.

He went on to talk about the evolution of the printed word in the digital world, saying: “Our world has been turned upside down by the digital revolution. It has led to an explosion of creativity and new forms of storytelling. Opportunities for pursuing our craft have never been greater. Working on multiple platforms, we code, compose, and collaborate in ways unimaginable a decade ago. The FT has navigated the transition from print to digital by being bold, not complacent; global, not parochial; evolutionary rather than revolutionary.

“In an age of information overload, there is still plenty of mileage in print. I believe the printed newspaper is a great marketing tool. It offers a deeper reading experience, a snapshot of a moment in time of the stories of the day.

“The press should have the freedom to get it right and to get it wrong. As editor, I am deeply aware of journalists’ responsibility to get it right and from time to time we will get it wrong. Long live print and long live the printed word.”

Jon Wright, the charity’s Chairman, paid tribute to the late Baroness Dean, who passed away earlier this year. She was the charity’s 2017 President and guest speaker at the 2017 Annual Luncheon. He described her as an inspiration to everyone in the industry and will be remembered for her tremendous support, great humour, and energy. Baroness Dean’s husband, Keith McDowall CBE, was guest of honour at this year’s event.

Updating industry guests on the charity’s work, Jon Wright said: “Last year we helped nearly 1,300 people and have already exceeded that number this year. We work on multiple levels, encompassing financial support, two excellent sheltered homes, signposting to specialist services, and being a friendly voice at the end of the phone. Our charity is nearly 200 years old but we are still very relevant and, with your support, will continue fulfilling a very real need.”

Demonstrating the value the charity’s places in young people gaining practical experience in the sector, the finalists’ work in its live brief to capture the meaning of print in today’s society run in collaboration with UAL/LCC for photojournalism degree students was exhibited at the event.

Congratulations to Saoirse Suvari, winner of the BBD&PA Best Student Book

Congratulations to Saoirse Suvari, winner of the BBD&PA Best Student Book

Saoirse Suvari’s Kurdish Freedom Fighter scooped the award for Best Student Book at the British Book Design and Production Awards held in London on 22 November. She also received a cheque for £500 and the opportunity to complete an internship in the industry.

This year’s awards’ theme was VIVID to reflect the powerful feelings and strong, clear images that books can emote in the mind.

The judges described Saoirse’s book as “an incredibly personal piece of work”, with the design and creation of the book working extremely well for the subject matter.

“I wanted people to know the very important situation concerning the Kurdish people,” explains Saoirse. “I was absolutely shocked and thrilled to win because my book is so personal.”

This is the second year we have been pleased to sponsor the Best Student Book category as part of our commitment to helping young people gain practical experience and take their first steps into the sector.

We remember

In the centenary year of the end of the First World War, we remember those who served and contributed to the war effort.

The British printing industry’s attitude to the war was patriotic with thousands volunteering and a number using their skills on the Front as ‘field printers’, printing military material on army presses set up on the back of lorries.

One of the most famous publications produced in the trenches was the Wipers Times, printed on a press found in the ruins of Ypres and repaired by a soldier, who was a printer in civilian life.

Going through our own archives, our 1914 Year Book records that ‘two lads’, whose education the charity had funded, ‘are at the present moment serving under the Colours’ and that ‘the good wishes of all subscribers go with these young men’.

Our archives also include leather-bound, gilt-embossed memorial books for the Process-Engraving Craft and the Caxton Convalescent Home.

In 1918 the charity set up a fund to help the children of printers killed in the war.








Illuminated pages from the ROLL OF HONOUR OF THE PROCESS-ENGRAVING CRAFT 1914-1918

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