Top 5 New Zealand apprentices named

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The five sector winners in the PrintNZ Apprentice of the Year competition have been named, with the winner set to be announced at the Pride in Print Gala Dinner in June.

Apprentice of Year Top 12: Travis Jordan
Apprentice of Year Top 5: Travis Jordan, Soar Print

The top five include Alexander Cameron-Brown, Peacock Brothers (Auckland) – Packaging, Craig Murray, Global Culture (Christchurch) – Screen, Todd Nicholls, Webstar (Masterton) – Offset Print, Travis Jordan, Soar Print (Auckland) – Digital, and Karl Pearson, Printcraft 81 (Masterton) – also Digital.

The top five were selected from a shortlist of 12, who according to Ruth Cobb, CEO of PrintNZ, demonstrated, “Admirable levels of skill, adaptability and fundamental hard work in trying circumstances.”

PrintNZ chief executive Ruth Cobb says the calibre of these apprentices came to the fore in the uniquely difficult circumstances of completing their studies during last year’s onset of the global pandemic.

She said, “Some had to continue to go to work under extreme pressure and others weren’t able to go to work at all. These apprentices also lost the face-to-face visits from their Competenz training advisors through this time, and only had virtual support from that side.

“Furthermore, the businesses they worked for also had to endure intense pressures – working far under from ‘business as usual’ circumstances. But, they also worked around it and enabled their apprentices to complete the requirements of their learning.

“Despite all of these challenges, these apprentices continued on to complete their studies – and not just to pass – but to do so at the exceptional level they had demonstrated right throughout their apprenticeships.

“PrintNZ is impressed by the contribution and performance of all parties, and it speaks volumes to the mettle and talent in abundance within our industry.”

She said, “While 2020 threw us a curve ball, the likes of which we have never seen before – and sent many of us off course with our plans last year – it did not stop this group of apprentices from completing their studies, and gaining their qualifications to the highest of standards.

“These apprentices have all excelled in their specific disciplines.”

Alongside the apprentices’ own diligence, Cobb says the crucial support roles played by their employers, managers and training advisors in recognising and encouraging their talent deserve significant acknowledgement.

“We are hopeful that this year we are able to suitably recognise those achievements and contributions at our Industry Graduations and, of course, moving through to the naming of the overall Apprentice of the Year at the Pride In Print Awards on 25 June in Auckland.”

A production manager with Auckland firm Peacock Brothers, Alexander Cameron-Brown, says he particularly enjoys the problem-solving aspect of his role. “What I enjoyed most about my apprenticeship was building my skillset within a growing organisation, and finding new ways to build my role and be a part of an excellent team.

“I am excited and grateful to be a part of the Top 5. It is an incredible honour to represent Peacock Brothers and our wonderful team, showcasing not only the work that I put in, but the work that our team put in helping me to achieve this goal.”

A digital team member of Auckland’s Soar Print, Travis Jordan says he has been “blown away” to be named in the Top 5.

“I’m still trying to process that I’ve been nominated for such an incredible accolade and I truly believe my passion, which continues to grow, reflects what I’ve been able to achieve thus far,” he said.

“To be able to share the future of the print industry with the other Top 5 candidates, who are all experts in their fields, is a pleasure to be a part of. The future of print is in good hands – watch this space.

“I’m very glad and am forever grateful Soar has given me the opportunity to pursue an apprenticeship. I was apprehensive at first and quite honestly scared of the commitment and the homework.

“But I could not pass up the opportunity and have had nothing but continued support, and have been fortunate enough to have been mentored by some truly incredible and talented people within my time.”

Currently on a pandemic-enforced sabbatical from Christchurch firm Global Culture, Craig Murray says he most enjoys the “constant challenge” posed by printing. “There are so many variables to screen printing,” says the assistant head printer.

“You can print the same job 10 times and every time there is a new problem to solve. It never gets old, there are always new skills and techniques to learn.” Murray adds that he is “incredibly proud and honoured” to be named in the Top 5.

“It is humbling to say the least. But I wouldn’t have been here without the support of my amazing wife Simone. I know that all of the nominees have had to make sacrifices and overcome many challenges to get our achievements. Covid has not helped matters in any shape or form.

“I wish all my fellow nominees all the best for their future and am proud and honored to be standing next to them as we all start the next exciting chapter in our lives.”

A printer and assistant with Masterton-based Webstar, Todd Nicholls says being named in the Top 5 is “great for me and also great for Webstar. It shows hard work pays off".

In regard to the apprenticeship experience itself, Nicholls says he enjoyed “every part” of being able to run a 64-page heatset web press. “I also enjoy leading a crew of five on the press to achieve the best quality product on a daily basis, while learning from skilled individuals.”

A prepress/digital printer with Masterton firm Printcraft 81, Karl Pearson says he has valued the apprenticeship programme and is “flattered” by the nomination. “I enjoyed the research of different systems/techniques that I would not normally get the chance to come across and the freedom of putting forward my units in a way that wasn’t restricted by client design briefs,” he says.

“This allowed me to try and experiment with layout and colour/image choices. I feel that I have a lot more to learn, but it has given me the foundation and the confidence to push on and look at things from a different perspective.”

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