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Australian Print Apprentice of the Year 2022

print apprentice of the year 2022

One of the highlights of the Australian National Print Awards is the Apprentice of the Year – celebrating emerging industry talent. The team at GSM donned our best threads and went along to catch up with the two finalists>

The Australian National Print Awards provide an opportunity to recognise the skill and craftsmanship of the Australian Print and Visual Communications industry. The Apprentice of the Year is an auspicious, highly regarded and coveted award bestowed only on those who display the highest level of skill in their field. Having achieved the top echelon of performance within their State before vying for honours on the national stage.

JACOB WILLIAMS > Visual Connections – LIA National Graduate Scholarship prize.
Multi Color Corporation – Adelaide, South Australia

print apprenticeGSM: Describe your journey of gaining employment in the print industry and how you became an apprentice.

Jacob: I began my employment with Multi Color Corporation in Adelaide, South Australia. This was back in 2015 following a discussion with my uncle and brother. I worked there as a rotoflex machine operator for 12 months before being offered a printing apprenticeship in the Barossa Valley. Having numerous family members in the industry, including my father, brother, aunty and uncles, it made accepting this offer a ‘no brainer’. I spent the next 4 years completing my apprenticeship on a TCS 250 offset printing press, producing high quality embellished wine and spirit labels.

GSM: Tell us about balancing work and study as an apprentice – and how you work with your trainer?

Jacob: I found the balance of work and study relatively easy throughout my apprenticeship. The constant support from my work colleagues and management, while getting hands-on experience running the printing press, made learning easy and enjoyable.

For the first three years, my trainer was Print Training Australia. However, for my final year, Spectra Training looked after me. Both training providers were great in helping me thoroughly understand the printing industry. I completed my training with ease which I put down to an experienced and supportive network. It certainly made life easier.

GSM: What was it like being nominated a finalist for the Apprentice of the Year award?

Jacob: After finding out about my nomination for Apprentice of the Year I was shocked. I, for one, didn’t even know there was such an award. It was humbling to even be considered.

Some of the criteria for winning the award was to put together a proposal on how the scholarship would help further my studies within the industry. While also giving the judges a better understanding on who you are and where you’d like to be in the years to come.

The judging at State level was much like that of the Nationals. A written submission, followed by a face to face interview with a judging panel. These interviews allowed me to express my love for the print industry while also making me think about what sort of future I’d like within print.

GSM:  What advice would you give to someone looking for an apprenticeship in the print industry?

Jacob: My time in the industry has easily been some of the most enjoyable and rewarding in my life. I would tell those looking to join the industry that although printing might not be the first trade that comes to people’s minds, there is no reason why it shouldn’t be.

Printing is a trade that allows for endless opportunities. It is applicable anywhere in the world while also having numerous job opportunities across Australia. A trade that is applicable anywhere in the world while also having numerous job opportunities all across Australia allows for endless possibilities. All of us in the print industry welcome those looking to join and share this passion for all things print and manufacturing.

GSM: Where to from here? What are your career aspirations?

Jacob: After being awarded the 2021 Visual Connections National Graduate of the Year, I have commenced further studies toward leadership and management. My career aspirations include moving my way up the corporate ladder. Ultimately, I’d like to become a General manager or CEO of a recognised print establishment within Australia or internationally.

I hope to use the wealth of knowledge I have gained along my journey to inspire future generations that a career in the printing industry can be as inspiring and as fulfilling as any other.

Fildes Manufacturing – Sandringham, Victoria.

print apprenticeGSM: Describe your journey of gaining employment in the print industry and how you became an apprentice.

Matilda: My career in graphic arts and printing satarted accidentally. I stumbled across a despatch role at Fildes Manufacturing, originally a family printing company in Sandringham, Victoria. Fildes manufactures self-adhesive labels and kraft paper bags, specialising in the pharmaceutical and food safety markets.

In my first year as Dispatch Co-ordinator, I picked up things quickly, even though I only had a basic knowledge of print. With my exceptional eye for detail, I had the ability to analyse and problem solve efficiently and creatively. I was always confident to ask questions. This led to lengthy educational discussions with my managers and co-workers. I believe by showing curiosity and interest in the whole print process led to me being offered the opportunity to join the prepress team as an apprentice. Now I couldn’t picture myself in any other industry.

GSM: Tell us about balancing work and study as an apprentice— and how you work with your trainer?

Matilda: At the beginning, my role was primarily focused around prepress and production support. I then worked alongside the prepress supervisor, production scheduler, print operators and plate maker, as back-up support. I had the ability and enthusiasm to adapt to different job roles quickly, and gained hands on experience in both operations and prepress.

Initially, Spectra Training supervised my apprenticeship before I moved on to a TAFE course with Holmesglen. In the last two years of my apprenticeship, with Covid, plus the new global economic crisis, my role at Fildes evolved rapidly. My primary focus shifted towards the commercial aspect of our business, where I became heavily involved in the purchasing of raw materials and supply chain.

Whilst still training at Holmesglen as an apprentice, I had to incorporate more one-on-one mentoring with my managers. I also commenced a Diploma of Business Management in the evenings, to refine my business skills and leadership qualities. Balancing this workload was often tiring, but I loved the challenge. I knew this was a great opportunity to assist my personal and career development.

Probably the hardest aspect of my training was when I was required to learn the quoting, costing and estimating of jobs. It was quite a challenge without an accounting background. However, with the help of my manager and the accounts team, I managed to wrap my head around it.

Now, with my broad skill set in prepress, operations, scheduling and raw materials, I can successfully analyse production variances and report the flow on effect of price increases from our suppliers.

GSM: What was it like being nominated a finalist for the Apprentice of the Year award?

Matilda: Being nominated and recognised as an outstanding graduate/apprentice is such a great achievement. I’m also grateful for the opportunity to reflect and illustrate how it all started. The criteria of having to write up business proposals really made me think about what I wanted to do with my career and the future of the print industry. I think it is a great way to get our young minds thinking of the future, as well as giving the judges insight into where we believe the industry is heading.

GSM: What advice would you give someone looking to get an apprenticeship in the print industry?

Matilda: Do it! There are so many opportunities and branches of this industry – all are so rewarding. The people I have met are so interesting. They have all travelled the world and seen so much while working in the print industry. There are so many forums and expos, it’s never ending (in a good way).

I hope to be able to increase awareness of the print industry. In particular, by educating High School students about the exciting career opportunities that exist in the print and graphic arts sector. Students like me, especially technical-minded females who are unsure of their career path. It’s all about showing the opportunities and benefits that come with an apprenticeship. I really would have benefited from someone doing this for me when I was 16.

GSM: Where to from here? What are your career aspirations?

Matilda: My first goal is to, one day, manage a business in our industry, while inspiring and mentoring others. However, my life goal is to be in a position to help minimise any negative environmental impact on a global scale. I believe it’s up to determined workers, like myself, to come up with viable alternatives to reduce waste and recycle. I’d like to be able to invest in more recycling projects in Australia.

This article was originally published in GSM19. To read this and other great articles purchase this issue here.