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Young print talent not to be ignored

Tuesday, 09 December 2008
By Print 21 Online Article

Print companies looking to reduce costs should think twice before cutting back apprentices, according to graphic arts teachers throughout Australia.

As the cut-off for enrollments in printing courses in 2009 creeps closer, Allan Wetherell, educational program manager at Ultimo TAFE, NSW expects that the final numbers “will be reduced a little” on previous years.

When times get tough, companies begin looking to cut corners on costs any way they can. Too often, Wetherell has seen apprentices used as a convenient scapegoat.

“Companies are very cautious about training because apprentices are such a commitment – especially in areas like prepress and hardware,” he said.

Wetherell noted that small-to medium-sized print companies are often the first to eliminate apprenticeships, while larger organisations have a tendency to maintain their number of apprentices.

These fears may not have reached Queensland. Craig Sherrin, (pictured) director of Southbank Institute of Technology said that the school had 190 apprentices enrolled in printing and graphic arts courses this year. Already, 180 have currently signed up for 2009 and with weeks still left, Sherrin expects this figure to increase further.

“We can see no discernable difference between now and last year,” he said. “We’re still looking at almost exactly the same numbers.”

Robert Black, director at the RMIT International Centre of Graphic Technology is likewise optimistic of the enrollment figures for 2009.

“I don’t see any real down-turn at the moment,” he said. “We had reasonable numbers for 2007 and 2008.”

Like Wetherell, Black is also familiar with the mentality that a business can survive without apprentices.

“There are some who may look at it as a cost-saving method which is a negative approach to take. We’ve been through tough times before and came out on top,” he said.

Black warned of the dangers this could have on the future of the printing industry.

“It’s a short-sighted response that the whole industry pays for in the long term,” he said.

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