Apprenticeships: Take a Closer Look at The TT Model and How You Can Implement This at Your Print Shop

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This article appears in the Africa Print Journal.

Many print shops in the industry are often not aware of the formal process that needs to be followed when indenturing an apprentice. Many small to medium size printing plants are under the impression that if they enroll their apprentices for the Technical Theoretical Block with one of the training providers in the industry, their apprentice is on the pathway to obtaining his/her trade qualification. This is unfortunately not the case.

There is a tripartite agreement that needs to be in place. The apprentice has to be enrolled for the TT block with a Technical Training Provider. He/she also needs to be registered with the FP&M SETA and ideally employed with a printing company. The reason the apprentice must be registered with the FP&M SETA is to ensure the SETA records him/her on their database as being indentured in an apprenticeship, which is a three year qualification.

The SETA arranges for a trade test to be conducted at the end of the three years on successful completion of the qualification. A trade test cannot be conducted if the SETA does not have the apprentice details recorded on their database. The printing plant also needs to obtain accreditation from the FP&M SETA to operate as a Workplace Training Provider. The main reason for this is for the F&M SETA to ensure that the printing plant has the required machinery, qualified journeymen and internal assessor in the plant to assist and guide the apprentice through their journey to become qualified.

Trade tests in the printing and packaging industry are conducted at the printing plant and not at a college due to the cost of the machine and maintenance thereof. Colleges are not able to host these machines onsite.

The vital aspect to the success of an apprentice qualifying lies with the printing plant being accredited as the Workplace Provider. This step is often omitted from the process as many printing plants are not aware of this even though this has been standard practice in the industry for decades.

The reason for the lack of knowledge is due to the fact that printing plants are businesses that focus on making a profit and surviving. These processes are seen as 'red tape' and an administrative nightmare.

Printing SA assists its members with indenturing of apprentices, liaising with the FP&M SETA, compliance to become accredited as a Workplace Training Provider as well as assisting with understanding the administrative processes behind taking on an apprentice.

Printing SA has also assisted the industry in sourcing suitable candidates for printing plants, this is done through the TT skills pool which has been implemented in 2015 as a pilot project. Employers in the industry incur huge costs in recruiting and selecting suitable apprentices who often drop out or fail the TT block modules.

We, together with the FP&M SETA have come up with a solution to this problem. Printing SA will apply for funding from the FP&M SETA. The funding will be aimed at advertising, recruiting and selecting potential apprentices. We will conduct the necessary psychometric and colour perception tests, place the apprentice on the Introduction to Printing course as well as TT1.

Only successful apprentices will then be offered to the industry to take up and indenture in their print shop. They would not incur any costs for the learner and will be assured of a committed apprentice who has already advanced to TT2. Furthermore the print shop would not have to incur costs to see the apprentice through to TT2, TT3 and the trade test as the funding will be transferred to the print shop.