Printing SA Introduces Youth To Career Prospects In The Printing And Packaging Industry


Printing SA organised a rural outreach programme for high school learners in the Pietermaritzburg region, with its KwaZulu Natal Chamber presenting a four-day programme on an Introduction to Print and Packaging for the pupils.

The programme was funded by the Fibre Processing and Manufacturing SETA. Twenty four Learners from three high schools, including Edendale Technical High School, Ikusaselihle High School and Zubukezulu Technical High School, were involved in the project.

Learners and their teachers were transported into the city each day where they were received by Chamber Director Geoff Warren and Fred Williamson, Facilitator/Trade Theory Lecturer at the Printing SA Training College in New Germany.

The objective of the programme was to introduce the youth to career prospects in the printing and packaging industry. To this end, learners were introduced to the History of Print both internationally as well as in South Africa. The fact that there is a vibrant Industry worth around R45 billion p.a. and employing some 45000 employees, was impressed upon the learners.

Various substrates, including the manufacture of paper and board, were also covered. Learners were then introduced to the role of light and photography, colour and the various attributes of the colour spectrum, the primary colours, colour filters as well as additive and subtractive colour. Pre-press was the next port of call and learners were able to appreciate the art of typography, tones, point size, tracking and kerning, to name a few.

It was then time to move on to the heart of the matter where learners were exposed to the major printing processes such as flexography, lithography, gravure, screen printing, letterpress and the more recent process: digital printing. Packaging and print finishing, including bookbinding, were also covered in some depth.

Prior to this intervention, many of the learners’ only significant exposure to print was their school text books and the photocopier. This was the view until the role of advertising, signs and billboards, and packaging in its many forms was brought to their attention. Learners began to understand that they were surrounded by print and packaging in their every-day lives.

After three days of theory, including the studying of numerous and varied samples of print and packaging and exposure to video material, learners were treated to a practical exposure of the industry. Learners were transported to Kendall and Strachan where owner Mike Coldbeck enthusiastically provided the opportunity to see the origination department, and the computer to plate system in operation. It was here that the importance of correct impositioning was brought to life. Learners watched a four colour printer running at full capacity. For the learners, the most awe inspiring moment of the plant tour was the folder unit. Learners could not believe the speed at which the folder was capable of working. Pupils were also exposed to both a die cutter and a guillotine in action.

Chamber Director Geoff Warren expressed his gratitude towards the FP&M SETA for their funding of the programme as well as to all who were involved. The final assessment by the learners was that the programme was a resounding success. This was clearly evident when learners indicated that before starting the programme, they had no idea of the various career opportunities that were available in the industry.

The project could not have achieved its goal were it not for the input and support of local Pietermaritzburg Printers, Kuben Pillay of Nu-Print and Mike Coldbeck of Kendall and Strachan. Printing SA’s Local Regional Committee member Kuben Pillay played a linking role with the schools, the Pietermaritzburg Royal Show Grounds and the Education, Culture and Welfare Foundation of Pietermaritzburg, to get the project going.

If you are in the region, you are welcome to attend the Printing SA Members Forum at 11am on the 18 March at the Africa Print expo hosted at the Durban ICC. Non-members are welcome too. There is no cost. You can email for more details and register online for the expo at

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