Earn as You Learn Printing; CAREER MAIL ;THE PROOF IS ALL ON THE PAGE FOR AMBITIOUS SCHOOL LEAVERS

Article excerpt

Byline: LIZ PHILLIPS

THE printing industry has changed radically over the past couple of decades.

With the advent of new technology, it has shed its 'inky fingers' image and is just as suitable for women as men looking for a career in Britain's fifth largest industry.

It's one of few industries that offer apprenticeships, so you can be paid while you train.

And since it often involves shift work, it provides flexibility for those raising a family or looking for a good balance between work and other activities in their life.

Printing presses are expensive, so machinery is often kept working 24 hours a day, split between three shifts with extra pay for working Sundays or Bank Holidays.

Many traditional printers are in their 50s, so a career in printing offers a good opportunity for newcomers to the business to step into their shoes.

As a result, there is an annual competition run in schools for students aged 16 and above called PrintIT! to encourage them to take an interest in a job in printing once they leave school.

School leavers can join a printing firm offering apprenticeships which pay up to [pounds sterling]12,000 a year, rising to [pounds sterling]14,000 in the second year - though, pay depends on where you are based in the country. Training usually takes place onsite, resulting in a National Vocational Qualification (NVQ).

Foundation apprenticeships take a year to 18 months to complete, with an advanced apprenticeship taking another year or two.

There are a number of roles in printing. Work in the prepress department gives opportunities to use your imagination and creative flair. You will be desktop publishingtaking responsibility for the layout and look of the product, from brochures to magazines, packaging to business logos.

The finished artwork is passed on to the printers, who have to work to tight deadlines, ensuring millions of copies come off the machines in perfect condition.

The end of the process is the print finishers, who look after binding, stitching and trimming.

Jobs also range from sales to liaising with clients and managing the printing firm.

Loughborough University offers a professional certificate in print management. …