The new Paarl Media Academy of Print is set to raise the benchmark in print training, strengthening the skills level in the industry in the years to come. An official launch function was held on 30 March 2011 at the dynamic training facilities in Paarl, with guests invited including the Acting Director General of Higher Education and Training, Gwebinkundla Qonde, as well as staff, suppliers, clients, media and representatives from the London City & Guilds and MAPPP SETA.
In his address, the Acting Director General personally applauded Paarl Media for taking the initiative to establish a media academy to train students in the printing sector, and declared the Department’s support of the Group’s vision for shared learning, cross skilling and constant assessment based on specific set standards to ensure critical skills transfer and highly effective employees. “Paarl Media has heeded the government’s call for partnerships with industry to avail its capacity for developing the skills of our people,” he said. “Skills development is central to job creation and decent work as articulated by the President in his State of the Nation address,” he added. “It is also about empowerment for meaningful participation in society, for knowledge, for technological advancement and for innovation.
The Academy was initiated in 2008, when Paarl Media faced a challenge with the quality of training provided to their apprentices. The existing curriculum for apprentices in the printing industry dated back to the 90’s when PIFSA took a leading role to convert time-based apprenticeships into competency-based apprenticeships. However, with all the advancements in technology within the trade, training material used in the theoretical portion of the apprenticeship was outdated and often not applicable.
Following extensive research regarding methodology and curriculum followed in America and Europe in the training of printing apprentices, Paarl Media embarked on a process to develop a new training curriculum for seven printing related apprenticeships, namely Rotary Web Offset Heatset, Coldset, Rotogravure, Roll Label, Gravure Cylinder Preparation and Mechanised Bookbinding. Once the training curriculum was developed and aligned with the Qualification Curriculum registered with SAQA, the project team began developing trade training material for the mentioned trades; this training material was completed in January 2010.
During the course of 2010, Paarl Media further embarked on a capacity building intervention, identifying senior artisans employed within Paarl Media, to undergo accredited training as training facilitators, coaches, mentors, assessors and moderators. The training facilitators also assisted with the development of facilitator guides, with embedded video clips and other relevant lecturing aids which will be used in the lecturing of apprentices. These role players will be involved with the training of apprentices, once they have completed their foundational training modules at the Paarl Media Academy, when they are transferred to the various business units, where they will undergo their core and elective modules’, practical and experiential training. The first intake of 45 apprentices started with their formal training on 1 February 2011.
In addition to its newly developed apprenticeship programme, the Academy will facilitate the offering of technical, soft skills and leadership courses throughout the Group. It is a centre of excellence, driving the personal development and performance of each individual through a highly sophisticated learning management system, Cornerstone on Demand. This system will be used to manage, co-ordinate and report on the training of all employees and apprentices within the Paarl Media Group.
Furthermore, based on needs identified, additional training curricula are currently being developed including Estimating, Production Planning and print specific mechanical and electrical training. A Design for Print workshop has also been completed to empower clients’ designers and print production staff to fully understand the implications of their design selections in print so as to get optimal end results.
The Academy, which is an Institute of Sectoral and Occupational Excellence (ISOE), is an accredited training provider with MAPPP / FPM SETA, as well as having received formal accreditation by City & Guilds, the UK’s leading vocational awarding body.
Mr Qonde expressed his hope to be invited back to the Academy to recognize the success stories of the future graduates and wished all the students a very fulfilling future. He closed with the best wishes from the Minister of Higher Education and Training that the Paarl Media Academy of Print may go from strength to strength.