It is the Cambridge-based inkjet manufacturer’s sixth year supporting the scheme, which promotes print to students.

Xaar director of marketing, Mark Alexander, said: “For the industry to thrive it is vital to attract fresh talent to sustain the relevance of print as a powerful, cost-effective communication medium and industrial manufacturing process.”

Richard Moore, programme director for Proskills, the standards-setting body behind PrintIT!, said the initiative was the largest schools-into-industry programme in the UK, but could not rest on its laurels.

“The most important thing is for PrintIT! to remain self-funding as there is no government money. Without input from the industry in cash, time and prizes there won’t be a programme.

“I don’t think there is another vehicle for doing what this does. Despite being the fifth or sixth largest industry in the country print does not feature heavily with schools and is not at the top of lists in job centres,” added Moore.

Yet, he said, more than 140,000 students from nearly 2,000 schools had taken part in PrintIT! since its launch in 2005. This year’s programme prompted 4,000 students from 100 schools to register.

He added: “I would like to develop the initiative so it links all the way through to apprenticeships, work placements and university graphic design courses, and where we could follow them on social media like Facebook.

“It would be fantastic if we could form partnerships with local printers, who would take on these young people in a mentoring way and stay in touch and help guide them into training and careers.”