How do I ask for development opportunities at work?

How do I ask for development opportunities at work?

In your career, developing your skills and experience can help you stay up to date with the latest thinking, ensure you remain interested in your current job, and help you find new opportunities. So even if you’re in the dream job or organisation, it’s always a good idea to think about your personal development from time to time.

Applicants for our Rising Star Awards are encouraged to speak to their line manager or mentor about their aspirations, and to ask for help in developing a personal development plan. If you haven’t had these sorts of conversations before, sometimes it can be hard to know how to start. To help make things easier, we’ve listed some ideas here, so you’ll be on the right path in no time.

  • Ask your manager for a meeting to discuss your development. It doesn’t suggest you are going to quit, in fact, it shows that you are proactive and keen to learn. Increasing your skills keeps you employed there, and helps the company succeed.
  • Once you’ve got the meeting in the diary with your line manager, take time to prepare for it – what do you want to get out of it? Do you already know what training and development you can access through work? Have some ideas ready so you can get the conversation started.
  • Make a list of your accomplishments to date and some areas that you think you need help with. What skill gap are you trying to close, or what area do you want to build upon? Consider if these will not only benefit you in the position you are in now, but also your personal development for the future.
  • Draw up a personal development plan and establish milestones to assess and track your progress. Make sure there are no more than three actions to do at any one time, and use the SMART goal framework. This will help you meet your targets without feeling overwhelmed.
  • Try to check out if there’s a standard approach in your company – for example a Personal Development Plan template or an online learning portal – it’s a good idea to understand the norms in your organisation and work within them initially. Don’t be put off if this isn’t in place though – there are lots of useful templates online.
  • Don’t forget to review and evaluate your personal development plan. When you’ve achieved your first few goals, what’s next? Book the next meeting with your manager to review your plan and make sure you’re on track.
  • Doing it through work is not the only option. You can take matters into your own hands by signing up for online free courses, reading industry publications, attending events and conferences to build your network. A good place to start is Udemy, which has lots of courses that can inspire you.

Our Rising Star awards open again in 2022 for 18-30 year olds working in print, paper, packaging, publishing and graphics. Sign up to our newsletter to receive information when the awards open.

SYP mentorship programme is open for applications

SYP mentorship programme is open for applications

Are you in publishing and in need of some career advice and guidance? Apply now for a place on the SYP Mentorship Scheme. 

For the second year, the SYP mentorship programme is open to applicants from any region of the UK or Ireland, regardless of whether they are SYP members. The mentorship scheme is due to start in September 2021 and will be ongoing for the following six months.

Applications for all regions are now open, excluding Scotland, whose mentorship scheme will run later in the year. Registration closes on Monday, 26 July, at 11.59pm.

Aspiring publishers will be matched with experts in the industry to receive personalised, structured careers guidance.

To make sure mentees get the most appropriate mentor for their level of experience, the scheme is split into three strands:

● INTO: For aspiring publishers looking to land their first role in the industry
● AHEAD: For publishers in the first few years of their publishing career, looking for advice on how to progress to the next level or try a new role or specialism
● LAUNCH: For freelancers, entrepreneurs or anyone who wants to get started in publishing without following a traditional in-house route

You can apply now for a place on the SYP Mentorship Scheme here.

“We hope our scheme this year is as successful and rewarding for both mentors and mentees as it was last year.”

Iram Satti, UK mentorship lead, and the UK chairs, Tanu Shelar and Amalia Mihailescu, said: “The mentorship scheme is back for a second year across the UK, and we couldn’t be more excited. The scheme ran brilliantly last year and we want to continue to bring this great opportunity to aspiring and current publishers across the UK. Historically, location has been a barrier but if we learnt anything from the last 18 months, this is no longer the case for anyone aspiring to have a career in this dynamic and exciting industry.”

“The UK branch are proud to be hosting both INTO and AHEAD this year for those looking to enter the industry and for those already employed who may want advice on progression.”

Amy Potter and Natalie Dale, South West committee chairs, said:

“Following our successful first mentorship scheme last year, the South West committee is very excited to continue with their INTO and AHEAD strands. The mentors we have lined up this year are all professionals from across the industry, from freelance writers, commissioning editors, design specialists, and publishers, to a few. Many of our mentors from last year have come back to continue the scheme after a successful first year. We hope our scheme this year is as successful and rewarding for both mentors and mentees as it was last year.”

Caroline Guillet and Charlotte Parr SYP Oxford co-chairs, said: “We are thrilled to be launching the INTO strand as it perfectly resonates with our student-led audience who are working very hard to get their first job in the industry.”

Omara Elling-Hwang and Farzana Khan, SYP London co-chairs, said: “SYP London are so excited to be bringing back all three of our mentorship streams for 2021: INTO, AHEAD and unique to London, LAUNCH.”

“We’re excited to help connect people and stimulate the exchange of ideas, tips and insight.”

Elizabeth Beck and Rosie Hilton SYP North co-chairs, said: ‘After such a successful first year of the SYP mentorship scheme’s expansion into the northern branch in 2020, we are so excited to welcome a new cohort of mentors, to welcome back some wonderful mentors, and to bring on some brilliant new mentors as well.”

Elizabeth Goldrick, SYP Ireland chair, said: “This is the second year the Ireland committee are offering the mentorship programme and this year we are running both INTO and AHEAD streams. We’re excited to help connect people and stimulate the exchange of ideas, tips and insight.”

SYP Scotland co-chairs Sonali Misra and Grace Balfour-Harle, said: “After the success of our fully digital mentorship scheme last year, we’re thrilled to launch the eighth edition of our INTO scheme in October, with applications for mentees opening on 20 August. This year, we’re excited to also organise the AHEAD scheme, which will take place simultaneously.”

“Your help makes a huge difference to my family’s financial and emotional wellbeing”

“Your help makes a huge difference to my family’s financial and emotional wellbeing”

Daniel was one of the first to complete a printing degree at the London College of Printing. He then went on to gain an MSc in IT and worked in customer service, IT management, and software for a number of print organisations.

Over the course of his career, Daniel has experienced various setbacks, including restructurings, closures and digitalisation. During those challenging times, he contacted The Printing Charity who have provided support, such as help with training, which has opened new opportunities for him.

So when he was made redundant after the first lockdown in 2020, Daniel knew he could count on us again. The continued presence of the charity means a great deal to him, as he explains; “I didn’t expect anything so being given an emergency grant plus help with everyday living costs and to buy a laptop for online training and job interviews means I’m in a more stable place. Your help makes a huge difference to my family’s financial and emotional wellbeing.”

He went on to add; “The Printing Charity is an absolutely wonderful, non-judgemental organisation and you’ve been there for me from the very start of my career. Just the fact that you care about my wellbeing means so much.”

We are so pleased to be able to support Daniel and people like him. If you work or have worked in the wider print industry, and you need help, whether it’s financial or emotional – get in touch.

Men’s Health Week – 10 Practical steps men can take to look after their wellbeing

Men’s Health Week – 10 Practical steps men can take to look after their wellbeing

In England 1 in every 8 men has a mental health problem such as depression, anxiety, panic disorder or obsessive compulsive disorder. Men aged 45-49 also had the highest suicide rate in England and Wales in 2019.

Men’s Health Week (14-21st June) aims to raise awareness of the health issues that affect men disproportionately and focuses on getting men to become more aware of health problems they may have and gain the courage to do something about it.

Gender stereotypes mean men are often expected to be strong, dominant and in control. While these aren’t inherently bad things, they can make it harder for men to reach out for help.

If you’re concerned and you recognise you are developing an issue, do try to talk to your GP. It can be daunting, but most people find that speaking to their GP and getting help and support can make a big difference.

As well as speaking to your GP, we have listed some simple tips on looking after your own wellbeing that can be a great place to start.

10 practical steps men can take to improve their health and wellbeing

1. Get talking. Speaking about your feelings is a big first step and can help you find a solution, or at least release some of the pressure you are under. If you don’t think you can discuss the problem with anyone you know, you can call a confidential telephone counselling service. If you work or have worked in the wider print industry, you can register for our helpline for free, or anyone can call the Samaritans on 115 123.

2. Keep active. Regular physical activity can increase our self-esteem and can reduce stress and anxiety. It also plays a role in preventing the development of mental health problems and in improving the quality of life of people experiencing mental health problems.

3. Eat well. Our brain needs a mix of nutrients in order to stay healthy and function well, just like the other organs in your body. A diet that’s good for your physical health is also good for your mental wellbeing.

4. Drink sensibly. Regular, heavy drinking interferes with chemicals in the brain that are vital for good mental health. It’s very typical to reach for alcohol when you are feeling low, but in the long run alcohol can contribute to feelings of depression and anxiety, and make stress harder to deal with.

5. Connect with people. Keeping in touch with people, whether it’s face to face, telephone or video call can really boost your mood. You don’t have to wait for a reason to contact someone, just saying hello is enough.

6. Take a break. A change of scene or a change of pace is good for your health and wellbeing. It could be a five-minute pause from a half-hour lunch break at work, or a weekend exploring somewhere new. Allowing yourself some ‘me time’ is not being selfish, it’s prioritising your own health and mental wellbeing.

7. Do an activity. Finding something you enjoy can provide a great sense of purpose. It can be anything; from painting to football, joining a Men’s Shed or dancing the Tango. Try some new activities out and see where it takes you.

8. Improve your self esteem. How you feel about yourself has a huge effect on your health and wellbeing. Men’s Health Forum has supplied some brilliant tips that can help to boost your self esteem, because you need to be a good friend to yourself too.

9. Care for others. Caring for others is a great way to build relationships and make you feel needed. How can you help those around you? If you need some ideas, how about searching for volunteering opportunities near you.

10. Join the CAN DO Challenge. Get motivated to make positive changes by joining in with the CAN DO Challenge. Try a new wellbeing action every day during Men’s Health Week and see what other men are doing too. You can do it!

Your helpline myths busted

Your helpline myths busted

Our helpline is there for anyone in our industry and provides impartial advice and support. We’ve answered some of the most common questions about our helpline service here, and hope that you’ll register your organisation for this valuable service. 

Myth 1: Calls to the helpline are monitored

All calls are confidential. We don’t share any of our callers’ details. So, give us a ring and see how we can help. 

Myth 2: The helpline is not for individuals 

There are two ways to access the helpline. Via your employer, who will work with The Printing Charity to understand the service and share it with all employees, or as an individual. If you’re an individual, simply call us on 01293 542 820 or email, so we can help you access the service.

Myth 3: It costs to call the helpline

Calls are completely free to the helpline. We don’t charge anything, so give us a call and see how we can help.  

Myth 4: I can’t call the helpline in the evenings

You can call the service 24/7/365 for emotional support. Practical advice and guidance is available Monday – Friday 8am-8pm

P.S. Evenings and weekends are often the quietest time to call. 

Myth 5: Only I can call the helpline

Anyone over the age of 16 with an immediate family member who already has access to the helpline can also get in touch. So let your family know that this service is available to them too. 

Myth 6: My problem is not very important

No matter how big or small your issue, our advisers will do what they can to help you find a way forward. It’s better to talk to someone rather than let things become bigger, so give us a call.  

Myth 7: It is challenging to set up the helpline for my staff

We can have you set up in no time at all. We just need to understand a bit about your organisation to make sure you have the right materials to share with your team. Then we’re good to go.  

Myth 8: It costs to register my company for the helpline

Access to the helpline is completely free for individuals and companies. We don’t ask for donations. We just ask that companies register with us first so that we can keep in touch and ensure we are helping those in the print, paper, publishing and packaging industries.

Myth 9: We don’t need this sort of help right now 

Think of it as a safety net for when your team might need help. We know that the challenges people face are often hidden away, so although you may think everything is ok, it’s not always the case. There is no downside to putting support in place. 

Myth 10: The helpline is for people in crisis 

No problem is too small and you don’t need to feel that you are in crisis to get help. All problems start small so it’s worth giving us a call now to see how we can help. 

We offer advice and guidance from Citizen Advice Bureau trained specialists as well as emotional support from counsellors. It could be a practical issue, like a parking ticket dispute or boundary issue relating to your property that you need some help with. We’ll be here for you when you need us, practically or emotionally. 

Myth 11: We’re not big enough to need a helpline   

Life can bring all sorts of challenges at work and home. It doesn’t matter the size of the company or the challenges faced, we can help. Your company does not need an HR department to be eligible to use the helpline. Our relationship managers can help you implement the service for your team to use when they need it. 

Myth 12: I might not get through to anyone

Our service is equipped to handle all calls. There may be peak times with a short waiting time, but your call will always be answered.  

We hope that answered any questions you may have had about the helpline. There’s more information on our website and when ready, register as a business here. If you are an individual looking to register, please contact or call 01293 542 820.


The value of apprenticeships

The value of apprenticeships

In light of Paragon CC announcing a new apprenticeship levy fund, we spoke to Sophie Kirby, Head of Education and Partnerships, about routes into employment through apprenticeships and why they should be considered for those looking to join the print industry.  

At The Printing Charity, we believe in promoting development, encouraging people to create their career path in our sector and boosting their skills and experience along the way. It is for this reason that we invest in projects that meet these aims, most prominently our own Rising Star Awards which offer young people aged 18-30 the opportunity to gain up to £1500 to invest in training and development to propel them forwards.  

An alternative method of achieving training and development we are also keen to champion, is that of undertaking an apprenticeship. Apprenticeships are great for both employer and employee and benefits include: 

  • They are suitable for both new recruits and the development of existing staff 
  • There are few barriers to entry 
  • A broad variety of apprenticeships are offered, across many training providers, all over the country
  • The programmes offer a nice balance between learning and working, which provides on the job experience and an income, as well as a qualification  
  • Working with your employer to tailor your training can be really valuable, as you can work together to fulfil their future requirements and carve a career pathway  
  • Apprenticeships are offered at many levels, right up to degree level  
  • They also offer the opportunity to broaden horizons – with the experience of working with your training provider and meeting other apprentices outside of your workplace  

While non levy-paying employers can access a largely discounted price for apprenticeship training, there is still a cost associated, which can remain a barrier to access. As we emerge from the challenges that the pandemic has brought  our industry, it is easy to understand why funds cannot be diverted into additional training and development opportunities.  

It was therefore with great enthusiasm I heard of Paragon Customer Communications (PCC) new initiative. As part of the Paragon Ignite apprenticeship scheme, PCC will  transfer a proportion of their apprenticeship levy to enable more small businesses to offer apprenticeships. This will make them both affordable and attainable. 

If you are a small business in the printing sector and feel you could benefit from hiring a new apprentice, or offering this to your existing workforce, you can start the application process with Paragon today, to see if they can pay the apprenticeship training charge on your behalf.