Print Scotland’s Apprentice of the Year Awards 2024

Print Apprentice of the year 2024
Apprentice of the Year 2024

From the left: Susan Graham – President, Garry Richmond – Director, Jack Campbell, Adam Dobbie, Gordon Sally, Jack Clark, Liam Thomson and Jim McKenzie – Training Officer.

Print Scotland’s President congratulates high achievers at ninth annual Apprentice of the Year Awards and urges aspiring young people to consider it a great career choice.

Print Scotland’s President congratulates high achievers at ninth annual Apprentice of the Year Awards and urges aspiring young people to consider it a great career choice

Print Scotland’s President congratulates high achievers at ninth annual Apprentice of the Year Awards and urges aspiring young people to consider it a great career choice

The ninth annual Scottish Print Apprentice of the Year awards which recognises the achievements of print apprentices and their potential to secure the future health and prosperity of the printing industry in Scotland, heard a spirited appeal from its President for more young people to consider the attractions of an apprenticeship in the print industry.

At a ceremony held in Glasgow last week (Friday 7 June) Susan Graham, President of Print Scotland, the trade association and voice of Scotland’s graphic communication industry, said: “today we celebrate the success of our young print industry colleagues, all of whom, I am certain, have an outstanding future ahead of them, because the print industry, the sixth largest sector in the economy, has never gone away and continues to thrive.

Print is still here, present in all our lives. It is a renewable resource, it is tactile and people, across the globe, continue to use it every day, not just to inform and entertain themselves, but also to organise their lives. We need to grow our own to control our own success.

So as well as congratulating today’s award-winners, my message to the young people of Scotland is that a career in the print industry continues to be rewarding, satisfying and important to the health and strength of our economy and one that I urge them to consider.

I also want to thank all the employers who take on our modern apprentices and the production teams and managers who take them under their wing to teach while hitting their own targets.

A big thank you also to Training Officer Jim McKenzie. He has modernised the whole process. With enormous passion and commitment, and has overseen a flexible training model which works for everyone. His industry knowledge is second to none.

Finally, and far from least we would like to thank our sponsors: Antalis, Muller Martini, CCL Design and EBB who have made this Award ceremony the success it has been.

Four awards were made to outstanding apprentices, in addition to an innovative new category, “Mentor of The Year” which recognises the vital role experienced print industry professionals can play in bringing apprentices to fulfil their potential.

As well as raising the profile of future leaders of the print sector, the awards ceremony highlighted the way in which it is increasingly being seen as a rewarding and socially worthwhile career option among younger people.

Garry Richmond, Director of Print Scotland, said:

Refreshing and enhancing our talent bank of printing expertise is vital as an increasing cohort of highly experienced print professionals reach retirement age.

With this new stream of print apprentices present today, whose ability, aptitude and potential we recognise in the distribution of these awards, we can be cautiously optimistic about the future of our industry.

The print sector has significantly enhanced its support for apprentices in recent years and is definitely seeing the benefit of this forward-looking approach for employers and individuals.

We urge the Scottish Government and its agencies to reinforce our success by continuing to invest significantly to allow us to create more opportunities for our young people.

The winners of the 2023 Apprentice of the Year Awards were:

  • Pre-Press Apprentice of the Year – Jack Campbell, Deacon Brothers, Kirkintilloch
  • Press Apprentice of the Year – Adam Dobbie, Newsprinters UK, Eurocentral
  • Post-Press Apprentice of the Year – Jack Clark, Bell and Bain, Glasgow
  • Mentor of the Year – Gordon Sally, Bell & Bain, Glasgow
  • Overall Apprentice of the Year – Liam Thomson, FLB, Dalkeith, Midlothian

Dalkeith born and bred Liam Thomson, who attended the town’s High School, has worked at FLB for two years, and greatly enjoys his job. He has just two modules to complete before he becomes a fully qualified printer. He said: “I was lucky enough to have a neighbour who worked at FLB and recommended I apply for an apprenticeship.” Training officer, Jim McKenzie, said: “Liam started out quietly but has gone on to do really well. What makes Liam stand out is that he’s taken all his learnings on board very quickly and his manager, Tony McGuire, says he is an integral member of the production team and one of the strongest apprentices FLB has had.

Jack Campbell, who now lives in Cumbernauld, attended Kirkintilloch High School, and when he left worked in a couple of jobs, in a care home and in a home lettings business before his school career adviser suggested he might apply to be an apprentice at Deacon Brother in Kirkintilloch. He said, “I’ve really enjoyed my apprenticeship where I have two years to go before I’m fully qualified. I’m grateful to my careers adviser for pointing me in the direction of a job I find interesting and satisfying.

Adam Dobbie, who lives in Hamilton, attended Calderside Academy in Blantyre. As a second-year apprentice his role, with colleagues, is to operate a huge printing press that produces thousands of newspapers every day. He said: “I expect to be a fully qualified printer in September 2025. I work four night shifts, then have four days off, followed by four day shifts. I enjoy looking after our enormous printing press and making sure everything works as it’s supposed to. I definitely plan to develop my career in the print sector.

Jack Clark, 22, from Darnley on Glasgow’s southside, attended Woodfarm High School in Thornliebank. He found his way into the print sector when a neighbour, who worked at Bell & Bain, suggested that Jack might enjoy working there. Jack said: “I love my job and want to increase my skills as I progress in the print industry”. Training officer, Jim McKenzie, said: “Jack started his apprenticeship when the process was pre-computerised and struggled a bit because he is mildly dyslexic. He is flourishing now that his work has been computerised. After last year’s Award ceremony Jack told me that he would be among the winners this year, and he’s proved to be right! This shows both talent and determination.

After thirty years working as a print industry professional, latterly at the Daily Record’s printing plant in Cardonald in southwest Glasgow, Gordon Sally joined Bell & Bain two years ago and is relishing his role as a mentor to the firm’s apprentices. He said: “My role has been to mentor our apprentices and I’ve developed this process by getting them a room in the factory with computers and whiteboards to allow them to do coursework and allocate the necessary time each week. I also encourage their line managers to do their jobs to make sure the apprentices get the coursework done. Everyone in business has had a mentor to some degree in their career but for apprentices it makes a huge difference.

Print Scotland provides training for Modern Apprentices through the Scottish Training Scheme, which provides a grant from the Scottish Government to cover the cost of the training. It also provides a range of Scottish Vocational Qualifications (SVQs) as well as Modern Apprenticeship (MA) certification.