Robert Black is stepping down from his role as programme manager, Printing, at Holmesglen Tafe, Vic, and is set to be replaced by industry veteran Paul Ross.
Ross started as a letterpress printer in 1977, working for Cook & Heathcote, eventual bought out by John Sands, the greeting card company. From there he left to David Syme, which was Fairfax at the time, working in commercial printing.
Self-taught in lithographic printing, after a period of time he took on a teaching role at what was then the Melbourne College of Printing and Graphic Arts in 1998, teaching there for 23 years. The was absorbed into RMIT, which eventually opted out of print training, sold all of their IT to a private RTO, where Ross was taken on as business operations manager for the printing department.
Ross says, “It is early days for me, but have 40 plus years of industry experience. I have seen it evolve, change, and adapt to where it is now, but I think what employers are faced with is finding the right talent. We have an aging workforce. If printing companies are going to survive, they need to think how they can attract young people into the industry. You can’t have people working till 65 with no new blood coming in.”
On retiring, Black says, “It is a good job done, so it is time to go. I have been there for two years, and a part of the project for four years.
“We have set it up really well, it is all going well, we will have 100 apprentices in the next month, and more next year.”
Holmesglen Tafe takes students not only from Victoria, but also provides off-campus training to Tasmanian students, and has plans to take on South Australian, and Queensland students. It currently has 90 apprentices, up from 50 at this same time last year.
It has recently completed its digital print centre, with the help of Konica Minolta, who supplied three of its presses, Ball & Doggett, who supply the paper for free, and DIC Inks, who supply the inks for free, for students to use in the lab to test and mix.
[Related: Holmesglen takes on Tassie apprentices]
Holmesglen is now approved to teach Cert II in Printing to high school students, which was recently placed on a list of free courses. Students complete the qualification one day a week along with their other studies.
Ross says, “From here we are continuing on expanding in Victoria and Tasmania. We have just put up our third course, Cert III in print communications, as well as Cert II, which is done in school. That is on the free list of courses next year.
“We are continuing with our push for more online delivery for regional Victoria, and putting on another trainer taking care of digital and prepress units. He has 30+ years in VET, plus working in the digital space in the industry. So he comes with a lot of credentials, and is a good catch for us.
“We have the issue with Tafe SA who are not taking any more involvement in print training. There will be a void, currently there is a private RTO with a presence there, but the Government has been advised they should be going to a Tafe instead.
“There will be something on the horizon in the near future, and plans further down the track for delivery in Qld. NSW already has an established Tafe.
“We are currently delivering to Orora Fibre, and have one site we are engaged with in Victoria, about to start a second site, looking at a national program being delivered, where we would take on all of their apprentices.
“We have had initial discussions with Visy, who have just finished an upskilling program in the past couple of years. So that wouldn’t be for the whole workforce, but just for new workers.
“We are delivering fully-on-the-job, off-campus training, which we do with Orora. That is negotiable for companies which are interested, for some employers their apprentices are too key to the business to be released for a week.
Black says, “I wish Holmesglen all the best, and I’m sure apprenticeship training in Victoria is in a good position, and needs the support of all to keep it going, particularly in the public Tafe space, which is where it needs to be.
“I hope I can continue to support them anyway I possibly can in the future.”
Comment below to have your say on this story.
If you have a news story or tip-off, get in touch at [email protected]
Sign up to the Sprinter newsletter