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Print and printed packaging

The UK printing serves all areas of business and leisure by producing a vast range of products. It covers the: printing of newspapers; printing not elsewhere classified; bookbinding; pre-press activities; and ancillary activities related to printing. In business, print is used to help communicate information, demonstrate commercial advantage, create impact and make headlines. The sub-sector also produces materials for education, entertainment and other sectors. Print companies tend to become specialists within their field, as different types of end product each require slightly different machinery. Demand for printed products has continued to grow.

There has been a decline in the number of employees in the print and print packaging sub-sector in recent years.

Key statistics:

  • There are an estimated 206,000 people employed in the sub-sector, across 27,000 workplaces.
  • Workers in the sub-sector tend to be full-time and directly employed, rather than on a contract basis.
  • Work is often shift-based, especially in lower levels jobs.
  • 71% of the workforce is employed full-time.
  • 71% of the workforce is male.
  • 97% of the workforce is white.
  • 9% of workforce is 16-24 years, 22% 25-34 years, 26% 35-44 years, 26% 45-54 years, 15% 55-64 years and 2% are 65 years and over.
  • 29% of the workforce considers themselves to have a disability.
  • 19% of the workforce has a Level 1 or entry level qualification, 23% a Level 2, 25% a Level 3, 8% a Level 4 and 11% a Level 5 qualification.
  • Annual turnover for the sub-sector is currently around £12.6 billion.
  • There are 9,089 sole traders in the sub-sector.

Jobs in the sub-sector range from: machine assistant, bookbinder, packaging technologist, web publication designer, desktop publishing editor, pre-press operator, graphic designer, reprographic assistant

Generally, the skill needs for the future will be in higher level management and technical operations. There will be a continuing need for health and safety skills in the sub-sector. It will become more important for people to be multi-skilled and able to work across several areas of the business.

Skill shortages in the sub-sector include:

  • Employability skills, such as team-working, having a good attitude, and using initiative
  • Craft and Technical skills, such as pre-press, digital design, litho printing and book-binding
  • Management and Leadership skills

Around 14% of employers report skill gaps.

The largest occupational groups in the sub-sector are:

  • Skilled Trade Occupations
  • Managers and Senior Officials
  • Elementary Occupations

The majority of companies in the sub-sector (90%) are located in England, with 7% of the total in Scotland, 2% in Wales and 1% in Northern Ireland. 85% of employers in the sub-sector employ between 2 -9 people, and less than 1% of all companies employ more than 200 people.

Vacancies are down to 5% compared to 16% in 2006, with the recession likely to be a major cause. Vacancies are most likely to be experienced amongst skilled trade occupations and process, plant and machine operatives, and in general large companies have more difficulty with recruitment than smaller companies.

Source: Proskills AACS LMI report 2010 and The 2009 Employer Survey – Print