The Duke spoke about key passions of his, education and skills, and the importance of SMEs to today’s economy. He entreated printers to recognise how crucial taking on apprenticeships could be to the strength of their businesses, and to consider export markets.
He said: “I have concentrated to some extent on skills and apprenticeships and trying to encourage young people to recognise that going to university at 18 isn’t necessarily the answer to the question.”
He said: “Many businesses look at apprenticeships as a financial risk. How many times have you written ‘three years experience required’? If I could rub that one sentence out we’d be in a much healthier place. You need to put at the bottom: ‘willing to learn.’ In many cases that’s all you need to say. People will look at that and think this is a business I want to be a part of.”
On trading overseas, he said: “I have been looking at what makes the UK prosperous and that is that we are able to export and conduct business a long way from here. Trade in Europe is quite small but outside it’s flourishing. I would say think broad, think further than just the UK or Europe.”
Welcoming over 181 guests to the event, chairman of The Printing Charity Jon Wright spoke of the organisation’s work in 2013 and its future aims. He highlighted a 14% growth in the number of people helped this year, a record number of applicants and winners in this year’s Print Futures Awards and the extension of the charity’s national reach, with 75% of those helped last year living outside of London and the South East.
Wright said: “Last year was a fantastic year for the charity. But we do know a lot of people out there need our help. This is about asking you to help us find those people. It’s important to broadcast that we help people of all ages whether individuals or families.”
He added that the charity’s aim is to have helped 2,000 people by 2017.
The luncheon also saw previous president Bill Offer added to the list of Presidents Emeritus. On receiving the recognition Offer said: “This is a great charity. I have been so fortunate to be associated with it for 14 years. Yes it was pretty difficult and very hard at times, but a lot of people in the industry supported the charity very well and that’s why you’re here today.”