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Free money… come and get it

Are you, and your employees, missing out on financial grants to help with training? As Print Futures Awards secretary Dr Mark Johnson explains, you can apply now for monetary assistance.

As an employer in the large-format printing space are you always saying there is a shortage of skills in the sector, but that finding the funding for training is a challenge? Did you know that funding for training is available through the Print Futures Awards?

Launched in 2003, these annual awards provide grants of up to £1,500 each to help young people pay for costs associated with a relevant training course for a career in print. Where an employer is already paying for training, the grant is £750 on the understanding that the employer will match that sum.

The Printing Charity, a national charity for people who work or have worked for at least three years in printing, publishing, packaging or print-related trades, is the lead sponsor. The other sponsors are the British Printing Industries Federation (BPIF), Unite the Union GMP and IT Sector, Saxoprint, St Bride Foundation, John Crosfield Foundation, the Journalists’ Charity, and The Book Trade Charity.

The awards are open to people aged 16 to 30 years, who are resident in the UK and who:
z intend or are studying for a career in print
z are working in the print industry and would like to develop their workplace skills
z are apprentices or studying for NVQs in print-related organisations and need financial help while working and studying.

Applicants do not have to be in formal education or complete a course that results in a certificate. You might have staff, for example, who realise that they need to retrain or upskill, and would like to undertake short courses and training sessions that would benefit their career in the industry.

The UK might be the fifth largest producer of printed products, but as the average age of people working in print is 48 years, a significant number of staff will retire in the coming years. So, need to encourage more young people into the industry and ensure they have access to training. This year we would like to see more applications from apprentices and young people studying for NVQs in print-related organisations.

Past winners have used their awards to help pay for pay things as diverse as colour management courses, course fees and materials, a forklift and HGV driving course, childcare while studying, travel and living costs, computers and design software, work placements, marketing courses, professional accreditation, and courses for speaking and presentation skills for work. Winners have ranged from machine minders to a PhD student in ink dye stability, as well as those working in customer care in the print industry.

Over the past four years there has been a 54% increase in the number of awards given, and in the past three years alone, the sponsors have given a total of £117,000 in financial grants. Last year’s awards attracted the highest number of applications, with 37 awards given, and this year the sponsors plan to give 50 awards.

The 2016 Print Futures Awards are now open for entries. The application form can be downloaded at www.printfuturesawards.com and completed applications should be sent by 27 May 2016 - either by email to awards@theprintingcharity.org.uk or by post to Print Futures Awards, First Floor, Underwood House, 235 Three Bridges Road, Crawley, West Sussex RH10 1LS.

If people have queries about their eligibility, they can email The Printing Charity at awards@theprintingcharity.org.uk

Shortlisted applicants will be interviewed in London on 13 and 14 June and winners will receive their Awards at The Printing Charity’s industry event at the House of Lords on 19 July.

Here is an opportunity to help young people train in your sector. Tell your staff about the Print Futures Awards and please encourage all those who are eligible to apply for this year’s awards.


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