Retired printers and apprentices share printing industry experiences

The Printing Charity’s sheltered home for people who have retired from the printing industry, Beaverbrook House in Bletchley, recently hosted a very successful joint event with the British Printing Industries Federation (BPIF) for residents and apprentices.

The interactive session presented by Howie Blanks, the BPIF’s South-East Training Co-ordinator and BPIF Training Co-ordinator, John Campey, centred on the transformation of the printing industry over 50 years.

Residents shared their experiences of changes in the printing industry during their own working lives with apprentices in today’s print sector: Gareth McCorkell from Snap Products Ltd in Aldershot, James Burton from Optichrome in Woking, and Aaron Toombs and Jack Carter from BCQ Group Ltd in Buckingham.

The apprentices were shown how an Adana letterpress worked by a resident and items were printed on a 3D printer during the event, which intrigued residents and apprentices alike. A quiz on printing techniques such as gravure, screen-printing, and flexography used on a range of printed samples rounded off the event.

While some terminology has changed, for example, today’s digital pre-press incorporates what used to be a separate photographic department, residents and apprentices agreed printing still requires specialised skills. Some things have changed for the better, too, such as heath and safety, and apprentices’ terms of employment.

Neil Lovell, The Printing Charity’s Chief Executive, says: “Our residents have a wealth of knowledge and experience and it was great to see them share this with the new apprentices, as well as gain insight into what’s happening in the sector today. The event was a terrific success and showed the power of different generations learning from each other.”

Ursula Daly, BPIF Programme Director, says: “It was fantastic to see our apprentices interacting with the residents and bonding over a mutual love of print. They have come away with even more enthusiasm for the industry after hearing about its rich history from the residents.”

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