Senior officials from the Institute of Printing have hit out at poor training standards in the industry, claiming companies are buying technology but not investing in people. The UK Government has also come under attack from the IOP’s digital interest group representatives, who spoke out during a visit to Océ’s open house in Germany.

Malcolm McReath, a member of IOP’s technical committee, told guests at the show: “The printing industry is moving away from its traditional litho base towards digital faster than most printers realise, and many are refusing to recognize what is happening. Printers need to look at the additional business opportunities opened by digital technology, which offers the potential for new revenue streams, apart from the printed product itself.

“Having said that, it’s all very well training people in IT skills. We need that as well, but there aren’t many people left who understand ink and paper and plate making – and you need to appreciate how quality is affected by the different elements in printing. What really needs to happen is for the whole structure of training to change, so that IT and printing skills are taught as an integrated course.”

He added: “Of course, the Government is largely to blame. Their policy is for everyone to go to university, rather than giving equal encouragement for learning a skilled trade. Old style apprenticeships, supported with government funding, have gone.”

Peter Wade, chairman of the IOP’s technical committee, said: “Printing companies are buying technology instead of investing in comprehensive training, but rely on the supplier to provide training specific to the equipment only.” And IOP deputy treasurer David Reid added: “In fact, no printing companies have invested in training for the past 20 years, because there’s no incentive to do so.”


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