February saw 13th annual National Apprenticeship Week across the UK, an initiative designed to celebrate apprenticeships and the positive impact they have on individuals, businesses and the wider economy.

As the spotlight shines upon this particular vocational career path, Hardy Signs is proud to celebrate four years since the launch of its Sign and Print Academy in partnership with Burton and South Derbyshire College (BSDC).

In March 2016, when the Academy was launched in BSDC’s Town Centre Campus, its key objective was to train and develop students in all areas of the sign and print industry. With the support of Hardy Signs, the College set about enhancing its creative curriculum to fill the skills gap within the creative industries.

Signs and Print Academy Launch in 2016

Today, the Academy forms an integral part of a successful collaboration between Hardy Signs and the College. Building on the exciting career path opportunities available, the Academy highlights the value that industry partnerships have to offer across the curriculum.

With support from the Hardy Signs’ design, manufacture and installation team, BSDC learners have delivered their own signage and print projects across the campus, utilising the latest in print technology.  

Last year, students were given further insight into the sign industry when they assisted Hardy Signs with the installation of large-scale vinyl signs across the Town Centre Campus. This involved the company’s installation team sharing its knowledge and demonstrating the best techniques for installing various printed substrates. Students were taken through the process of producing graphics, from material selection to ink usage and colour matching.

More recently, the Hardy Signs fitting team has joined students to deliver a project for the College’s forthcoming LEGO Education Innovation Studio. This project has seen Hardy Signs working alongside the learners in the production and installation of large format digitally printed wallpaper and graphics for the Innovation Studio that will be launched officially in April.

This is an extremely momentous year for Burton and South Derbyshire College as students and staff also celebrate 70 years of furthering education in Burton, South Derbyshire and the surrounding areas.

Dawn Ward CBE, Chief Executive and Principal of Burton and South Derbyshire College this week joined Nik Hardy, Managing Director of Hardy Signs, to visit students in the Academy, reflecting on the success of the past three years and the Academy’s impact on the future of the industry.

Dawn commented: “Giving students the opportunity to work with employers on live projects and gain industry skills is something we are passionate about, and it is a vital element of the College’s Skills Promise. We are delighted to continue to work with Hardy Signs to share expertise and to develop the creative skills of our learners. The success of the Academy is testament to the collective efforts of Nik Hardy and his team, the teaching staff here at the College and the learners themselves.”

In his role as President of the Burton and District Chamber of Commerce, Nik Hardy recently spoke about the value of further education, vocational training programmes and apprenticeships and how they are vital to the future success of business in our region.

Nik concluded: “The Academy has proved to be a hugely successful partnership for Hardy Signs and for developing the sign makers of the future. We have long been an advocate of apprenticeships and I’m pleased to say we have several former Burton and South Derbyshire College students in full-time positions, one of which came through the Academy itself.”

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