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.

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