PRINTERS who faced redundancy because their skills had become outdated have received a new lease of life thanks to training financed through individual learning accounts.
So far 47 printers working for small firms in Dorset have attended a six-day graphics course at Bournemouth Institute of Art where they learn to use QuarkXpress publishing software. "They have gone from facing redundancy to being the most employable people in their industry," said Chris Quarrie, their project manager at Dorset training and enterprise council.
Dorset, one of 14 training councils which has been piloting the accounts since last July, wanted to target people facing particular barriers to learning. In each case, it demanded that employers match at least part of the funding being put in by individuals and the Government.
Under a scheme developed with the Graphical Paper and Media Union, print workers who put in pound;25 of their own money received pound;25 from the union and pound;100 from their employer as well as pound;150 from the training council. To date, 21 firms have encouraged one or more workers to take part.
The course, which is held over three consecutive weekends so firms do not lose production time, costs pound;650. The remainder is paid for by the TEC from budgets set aside for retraining.
Steve Attwill, a regional GPMU official, said that individual learning accounts "came along at the right time" and allowed the TEC and union to develop a fruitful partnership with print firms.
"We have listened to the concerns of employers and used our purchasing power in a collective way," he added.