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‘Worst year’ for apprentices, Old Friends find

Friday, 02 March 2018
By Jake Nelson

(L-R) Peter Hook, Warwick Roden and Peter Munro keep ‘in the loupe’ at Sydney TAFE.

The Society of Old Friends visited Sydney TAFE’s Ultimo campus on Thursday to see the facilities for its print training course, including digital, offset and bindery, in a year that’s being called the ‘worst in memory’ for student numbers.

Craig Rollins, head teacher of printing at Sydney TAFE, showed nine members of the Society, including Peter Munro, vice-president of the NSW LIA, and James Cryer of JDA Print Recruit, around the training centre. The digital section included two Konica Minolta presses and a Glunz and Jensen CTP, while Heidelberg presses supplied by Printmac dominated the offset room. “We have a full gamut of print training facilities, from pre-press to print to finishing,” said Rollins.

Craig Rollins, TAFE NSW.

Despite the high-quality equipment and facilities, Rollins told Print21 that course numbers had slumped over the last year. “Printing apprentices in NSW are a bit lower than we’d like. Graphic arts, print communications, pre-press and print finishing are also low. This is just about the worst year we’ve had in my memory in terms of numbers,” he said. “That’s probably a sign of the times.”

James Cryer of JDA Print Recruit said technical and vocational schools like TAFE are needed to cater for students who want to learn new skills after high school, but don’t want to go to university. He added that, as Australia’s largest manufacturing sector, print is a good choice for school leavers. “Print offers the perfect ‘middle ground’ where you typically do learn a trade or skill – but you’ll be working in a small-to-medium sized company where if you show initiative, you’ll be given the chance to learn more about the business and possibly move up the ladder into other technical, production management or client-facing roles,” he said.

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