In the latest of our interviews as a part of our ‘20 years of GQA’ feature we spoke with Jon Bray, Managing Director of Learn2Print. We asked Jon to tell us all about his association with GQA Qualifications, when it began, what it means to him, and what he is involved with now. His comments make great reading….
Name of Organisation
When did you first engage with GQA?
I have been engaged with GQA since 2012. As a print centre all the qualifications for our industry were offered by City and Guilds, but a strategic review on their part had led them to a decision to disengage from the sector. Proskills, as the Sector Skills Council for the Print Industry approached GQA Qualifications to ask if Print was a sector they would be willing to get involved in, and the rest, as they say, is history.
Tell us how you are involved with GQA in your day-to-day work and how the relationship has developed since the initial engagement.
The early discussions were based around helping us to continue as a regulated sector in terms of qualifications; little did I know the relationship would develop to the degree and mutually beneficial level it has.
We knew that the qualifications we had as a sector needed reviewing and in many cases re-writing, not least because of the growing influence of ‘digital’, which even at that time we could see was going to have a major impact and bring significant change to our industry.
GQA were proactive from day one, engaging with us and many of the other print sector training providers, as well as industry employers; quickly becoming a trusted partner and great supporters for what we wanted to achieve.
Learn2print were part of a group of Print Industry Training Providers who with GQA’s guidance, jointly reviewed and renewed the relevant qualifications we had and laid out a plan to develop new ones to support the changes our industry was starting to go through.
Tell us a little bit about the print industry then…
When people think about print, understandably their first thought is newspapers and magazines, brochures and flyers, and rightly they assume that the requirement for this media is diminishing.
But I run a training course where the starting point is to ask students to imagine going into a supermarket in a world where the print industry no longer existed. What would you see? Simply shelf after shelf of white packaging and no way of identifying what any of the products were. It’s immediately enlightening to them. That’s the influence of print. Of course, even with the usual branding, without print you wouldn’t be able to buy any goods – money is printed, your credit cards are printed, and so the list goes on. In fact, print is the fifth largest industry in the world incredible as that might sound and has so many career opportunities for youngsters.
Tell us more about your relationship with GQA…
My first experience of GQA was to form a relationship with Sean Hayes, who, right from the outset has been a great supporter of ours and the whole print industry. To have someone with his enthusiasm for what we are doing is worth its weight in gold, and everybody we deal with at GQA has the same approach – our EQA Andy, and all the team in the office as well. Their approach rubs off on our staff, and that in turn helps us to share the same enthusiasm with our learners.
“The whole team at GQA have a passion and enthusiasm for their work that rubs off on our staff as well, enabling us to motivate and inspire the students we teach”.
You mentioned careers in the industry…
Given the scale of the industry globally, and how intrinsically it is interwoven with technology, we think more than ever print as a career option is appealing to youngsters, and getting this message out to schools is something we as a sector want to do more and more. There are lots of career paths, and it is a good paying industry as well.
GQA has been a great help to us in this regard, standing with us at education fayres to help us spread the word about how youngsters can achieve qualifications that will support them throughout their careers and CPD programmes to support life-long learning. They also support the industry by sponsoring the ‘student of the year award’ and this is greatly appreciated not only by ourselves but also all the other print training centres throughout the UK.
“Perhaps unlike in some other industries, people coming into print really want to learn and achieve the qualifications that will help them progress their careers and be the best they can”.
Tell us how the association with GQA has impacted on you personally.
Obviously, the main thing is that it has helped us as an organisation to progress and develop over the last decade; but I am convinced that working with GQA has also made that a significantly more enjoyable journey than it might have been, not just for me, but for all our staff and our students.
On a very personal level I was delighted recently to be able to see my own son achieve his level 2 and level 3 qualifications in the industry. I wasn’t involved directly in his learning and achievement of course, but as with any father, being able to see and celebrate his achievements, and his commitment to the industry that I am so passionate about was a great moment.
In one sentence tell us why you think GQA is important?
It’s been said by others who have done these interviews that GQA is a trusted and respected awarding body with a great team of people who support you in everything you want to do, and who work to the highest standards possible. They want to do everything right. There is little I can say to add to that, and I fully endorse every word.
What do you think the future holds for Learn2Print and GQA?
Much more of the same hopefully, a constant programme of evolution, and the continuation of our journey. It’s a journey that might also take us to other countries which would be very interesting. We are already in discussions with potential partners in Australia and Dubai, so it will be good to see how that develops!
Qualifications in the print sector are in really great hands with GQA, and I see only more good things in the future.