Occupational profile - print

Information on apprenticeships in the print industry, including what’s involved, skills and knowledge needed and progression routes for apprentices.

Press technician

Printing is carried out using printing presses; typically the company’s most expensive and valuable machinery.

There are six different categories of printing:

  • lithography
  • screen
  • flexography
  • gravure
  • letterpress
  • digital

Each requires different techniques to operate successfully and companies may use one or more categories of press depending on the customer needs.

Job duties can vary according to machine type and technology, as well as by printing category.

Post-press technician

Finishing is a general term used in the print industry to describe any processes after printing, usually in the final stages of creating a printed product.

Through finishing, printed paper can be transformed into finished products such as:

  • books
  • booklets
  • catalogues
  • pop-ups
  • display units

Special techniques are applied as part of the finishing role by using pieces of individual equipment to carry out separate tasks such as cutting paper to the correct size on a guillotine (known as an ‘off-line’ process).

Larger machines can combine a series of actions, from cutting and folding the sheets into pages and gluing or stapling the sections together through to producing a fully bound book – this is known as an in-line process.

There are also highly-skilled ‘craft finishers’ who use special tools and work with different materials such as wood, leather, fabric and metals including gold leaf. Examples of craft work include special edition or historic books, or high value promotional campaigns.

Work may also be carried out in teams, with each performing different functions to hit the quality criteria and production schedule.

Pre-press technician

A pre-press technician is skilled in all the physical processes that occur before the printing and finishing stages.

Pre-press is the first stage of production and is the term used for the processes and procedures that occur between the creation of a print-ready design and the actual printing process.

The set of procedures used in any particular pre-press environment is known as a workflow. Workflows vary depending on:

  • the category of printing process
  • the final product (books, newspapers, product packaging)
  • the printing method and the print product

The elements of the pre-press of a graphic print production can differ from case-to-case.

Print administration technician

Print administrators covers areas such as:

  • making sure your own actions reduce risks to health and safety in the workplace
  • improving individual and organisational performance
  • sending and receiving digital files
  • spreadsheet software and print production processes

Packaging technician

Packaging technicians covers areas such as:

  • making sure your own actions reduce risks to health and safety in the workplace
  • improving the effectiveness of the print organisation through good communication with others
  • planning work to meet production requirements
  • maintaining printing equipment in working order
  • setting and operating carton manufacturing equipment

Occupational profile

Print technicians produce a range of printed goods. They can efficiently and safely operate print machinery and equipment to produce print products according to the order specification and make sure it is produced on time.

To do this they will need to know the different types of print materials and technologies, so they can make sure that standards including colour matching, print resolution, customer specification and individual company standards are met.

In carrying out their role they know how to and can produce risk assessments and safely handle hazardous materials to ensure a safe working environment that complies with health safety and environmental requirements at all times.

To manage the production process they are able to keep accurate records using both digital and manual processes as required, and can communicate and work effectively with others, including giving clear instructions to colleagues.

They can operate complex machinery in the part of the production process for their specific job role and use their technical judgement to optimise production, maintain machinery and to resolve production problems and improve performance.

Transversal skills

You will gain the following transversal skills:

Self-management

Accept responsibility for self.

Typical performance evidence at intermediate level will show you:

  • take action on what has to done without having to be told
  • work unsupervised
  • react appropriately to situations
  • be open to new processes and situations

Working with others

Work collaboratively both internally and with external customers and an awareness of independence.

Typical performance evidence at intermediate level will show you:

  • understand and provide customer service as it applies to role both internally and externally
  • empathise with others’ point of view

Citizenship/ taking part in society

Understand and be considerate of the differing needs of different individuals and groups.

Typical performance evidence at intermediate level will show you:

  • engage with individuals with different backgrounds and needs
  • show respect for the environment

Work professionalism

Behave appropriately and with a professional attitude.

Typical performance evidence at intermediate level will show you:

  • show professional loyalty
  • focus on maintaining quality

Problem solving and decision making

Weigh up the pros and cons of new situations and identify key issues.

Typical performance evidence at intermediate level will show you:

  • take action without being given step-by step guidance and supervision
  • use own mistakes and successes as a learning process

Numeracy

Use data and arithmetic to support evidence or demonstrate a point.

Typical performance evidence at intermediate level will show you:

  • apply numerical concepts

Digital literacy

Find, evaluate, use, share, and create content using information technologies and the Internet.

Typical performance evidence at intermediate level will show you:

  • format, organise and manage files and data

Communication and literacy

Use verbal, non-verbal and written communication and an awareness of the interpersonal skills of effective listening, negotiating, persuasion and presentation.

Typical performance evidence at intermediate level will show you:

  • give and receive feedback
  • justify ideas and opinions
  • evaluate other people’s ideas

Literacy and numeracy

At entry, you must have previously completed the below or GCSE equivalents:

  • application of number level 1
  • communication level 1
  • information and communication technology (ICT) level 1

At the end of the apprenticeship programme, you must achieve the above essential skills at level 2 or equivalent qualifications.

Progression

A qualified print technician can apply their core skills and knowledge to develop into careers in production, sales and management in UK and worldwide print.

Progression from the NI level 3 apprenticeship in print could be a higher level apprenticeship (HLA) in either:

  • business management
  • business technology
  • designing and leading customer experience
  • digital marketing, advertising and communication (DMAC)

Progression from the NI level 3 apprenticeship in print could also be into a foundation degree such as business management or degree such as BSc Hons business technology or BSc (Hons) managing the customer contact.

National occupational standards (NOS)

Every framework must be underpinned by national occupational standards (NOS) which will indicate the standards of performance individuals must achieve when carrying out functions in the workplace, together with specifications of the underpinning knowledge and understanding.

Behaviours may be detailed within or alongside the NOS.

Pathways can be displayed by splitting NOS into core and optional depending on the occupational profile.

Pathway one: press

Core NOS

Unique Registration Number (URN) Title of the Occupational Standards
PRO031

Ensure your own actions reduce risks to health and safety in the workplace

PROMP250

Maintain printing equipment in working order

PROMP997

Improve the effectiveness of the print organisation through good communication with others

PROMP267

Control sheet-fed multi-unit lithographic printing machines

PRODPP120 Plan work to meet production requirements

Available NOS

Unique Registration Number (URN) Title of the Occupational Standards

PRODPP129

Produce computer-generated image carriers

PROMP251

Make and maintain lithographic printing plates

PROMP252

Prepare inks and coatings for printing

PROMP253

Set up and monitor numbering, bar-coding or inline data printing equipment

PROMP254

Prepare and monitor the performance of ancillary printing machine equipment

PROMP255

Set and operate over-printing machinery

PROMP256

Use ink drying equipment

PROMP257

Prepare and maintain image carriers for printing

PROMP260

Set and operate die stamping printing machines

PROMP262

Set in-line converting or enhancing equipment

PROMP263

Set in-line folding equipment

PROMP357

Run and monitor guillotines

PROPF408

Set and operate slitting and re-reeling equipment (adhesive label production)

PROPF310

Operate automated stitch and trim equipment for newspaper and periodicals production

PRODPP219

Prepare stencils for printing

PRODPP105

Make photopolymer plates for flexographic printing

PROPF350

Set up and control foil blocking machinery

Pathway two: post press

Core NOS

Unique Reference Number (URN) Title of the occupational standard

PRO031

Ensure your own actions reduce risks to health and safety in the workplace

PROMP250

Maintain printing equipment in working order

PROMP997

Improve the effectiveness of the print organisation through good communication with others

PROMP267

Control sheet-fed multi-unit lithographic printing machines

PRODPP120

Plan work to meet production requirements

Available NOS

Unique Reference Number (URN) Title of the occupational standard

PROPF343

Set up and control adhesive binding machinery

PROPF344

Set up and control case making machinery

PROPF345

Set up and control casing-in machinery

PROMP363

Run and monitor folding machinery

PROPF351

Set up and control booklet making machinery

PROPF342

Set up and control auto-fed sewing machinery

PROCTN404

Control carton enhancing machinery

PROPF346

Set up and control multi-knife trimming machinery

PROPF341

Set up and control multiple hopper feeders

PROPF352

Set up and control in-line insetting-stitching-trimming machines

PROPF406

Control automatic stacking/palletising equipment

PROPF347

Set up and control guillotines

PROPF355

Set up and control twin loop wire binding machinery

PROPF309

Operate automated inserting equipment for newspapers and periodicals print finishing

PROPF329

Control automated stitch and trim processes

PROPF331

Control materials handling for newspapers and periodicals print finishing

PROPF343

Manage adhesive binding machinery

PROPF364

Set and operate multi-knife trimming machinery

Pathway three: pre-press

Core NOS

Unique Reference Number (URN) Title of the occupational standard

PRO031

Ensure your own actions reduce risks to health and safety in the workplace

PROMP997

Improve the effectiveness of the print organisation through good communication with others

PRODPP124

Send and receive digital files

PRODPP120

Plan work to meet production requirements

PRODPP126

Maintain and configure digital systems

Available NOS

Unique Reference Number (URN) Title of the occupational standard

PRODPP247

Control digital colour printing machines

PRODPP122

Manage colour reproduction in digital pre-press

PRODPP128

Produce approved proofs from digital artwork

PRODPP130

Preflight digital files

PRODPP711

Design and produce creative digital colour artwork for print

PROPF356

Set and operate booklet making machinery

PROMP357

Run and monitor guillotines

PROPF364

Set and operate multi-knife trimming machinery

PROMPR30

Control the use of variable data with digital printing machines

PRODPP711

Design and produce creative digital colour artwork for print

PRODPP128

Produce approved colour proofs from digital artwork

PRODPP122

Manage colour reproduction in digital pre-press

PRODPP130

Preflight digital files

PRODPP129

Produce computer-generated image carriers

PRODPP125

Plan and capture digital images

PRODPP127

Plan and produce edited images

PRODPP105

Make photopolymer plates for flexographic printing

PROMP251

Make and maintain lithographic printing plates

PRODPP106

Make gravure cylinders

PRODPP219

Prepare Stencils for Printing

Pathway four: print administration

Core NOS

Unique Reference Number (URN) Title of the occupational standard

PRO031

Ensure your own actions reduce risks to health and safety in the workplace

PROMP997

Improve the effectiveness of the print organisation through good communication with others

PROPA124

Send and receive digital files

PROPA523

Spreadsheet software

PROMPR72

Review production costs and prepare invoices

Available NOS

Uniqque Reference Number (URN) Title of the occupation standard

PROPAM515

Evaluate the capability of suppliers to meet supply specifications

PROPAM516

Place orders with suppliers

PROPAM522

Maintain organisational quality systems

PROPA12

Printed products: standard operating procedures

PROPA526

Produce print estimates from price lists

PROPAM521

Assess the environmental impact of your business

PROPAM510

Handle objections and close sales

PROMP529

Check and archive finished job print records

PROPAM512

Meet your customer’s after sales service

PROPAM514

Develop & deliver a professional sales presentation

PROMPR28

Preflight Digital Files

PROPA03

Produce print estimates and data for invoicing

PROPAM509

Plan, schedule and monitor production

Pathway five: packaging

Core NOS

Unique Reference Number (URN) Title of the occupational standard

PRO031

Ensure your own actions reduce risks to health and safety in the workplace

PROMP250

Maintain printing equipment in working order

PROMP997

Improve the effectiveness of the print organisation through good communication with others

PROCTN409

Comply with environmental policies in carton manufacturing production

Available NOS

Unique Reference Number (URN) Title of the occupational standard

PROCTN401

Control cutting and creasing machinery

PROCTN404

Control carton enhancing machinery

PROCTN402

Control gluing and finishing machinery

PROCTN403

Produce dies and stripping tools

PROCTN405

Produce CAD, carton design and sample making

PROCTN408

Contribute to the development needs of teams and individuals

PROCTN407

Develop your own skills and manage your time

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