Matthew (Matt) Stockford from Gravure Packaging in Wellington has been named the 2022 Print Diploma Student of the Year.
After leaving school early, the now-36-year-old says completing the diploma and winning the award is a personal achievement and something he will look back on with pride.
“I wanted to challenge myself academically which is why I signed up for the diploma. Leaving school when I did, it became important to me to test and prove I can apply myself to study. It’s a good feeling to have achieved this and to win the Diploma Student of the Year is a great way to wrap up my studies”.
Ruth Cobb, Print NZ Chief Executive, says Matt was chosen as this year’s Diploma Student of the Year recipient because he demonstrated a practical understanding of his study.
“Matt was committed to not just completing the Diploma, but to using what he was learning and applying it to the business. As a result, the company has benefited from the research he has undertaken and the projects he has implemented during the course of his study.
“His ability to transfer his learnings so quickly into practical applications that resulted in improved outcomes for the business, all while continuing to work and manage a young family, is well worthy of the title he has been awarded,” she said.
Matt was 26 when he started his career at Gravure Packaging, a manufacturer of award-winning packaging specialising in shrink sleeves, Cut-and-Stack, film and paper flexibles for the food, beverage and healthcare markets. Providing packaging for major Australasian brands, the Petone-based manufacturer is one of only a few companies in the country with rotogravure printing technology.
Starting in a finisher’s role, Matt worked hard to master a number of the machines, quickly establishing himself as a prospect for future development. His hard work was rewarded in 2015 and Matt accepted the company’s offer to start in his printing apprenticeship under the tutelage of Malcolm Pearce of industry training organisation, Competenz.
His success during the apprenticeship, and a passion for self-development, prompted Matt in 2020 to enrol in the Diploma in Print Industry Management. While completing his Level 5 studies, Matt overcame a number of personal challenges, to stoically balance study, work and life.
“Having the support from Gravure and Competenz was valuable throughout my training. They were able to grant extensions which definitely helped to balance aspects of my life when I most needed it.”
It was during this period he discovered an opportunity to develop a new recycling initiative for Gravure.
“Sustainability is important to me and the Diploma’s environmental unit standards got me thinking about how the business could improve its environmental footprint and contribute to a greener future.
“Consequently, I implemented two initiatives that are now enshrined in the business. One is a new recycling initiative that every year saves seven tonnes of waste going to the landfill. The other is a beach clean-up on the Petone Esplanade which happens every month. I’m in charge of setting up team meetings on the beach and recording the information gathered from the clean-ups. It’s rewarding to see my co-workers adopting these greener initiatives,” he said.
Matt’s on-the-job training and study has paid off in his personal life.
“I apply a quality mindset to everything I do, including how I approach my home life.”
Andrew Young, Gravure Packaging Managing Director says, “I have seen immense growth in Matt over the course of his studies, both personally and professionally. He’s undoubtedly benefited from the learnings, tools, ways of thinking and the personal confidence the Diploma has given him.
“Matt was recently appointed to a Shift Leader 2IC position, a leadership role he is thriving in. He is firmly in the spotlight for future leadership roles within the company, and has passed the baton onto a new apprentice who is enjoying being trained by him.”
The award winner says he hopes his own training has a positive impact on the new apprentice.
“I hope my own experience from my studies is showing through, and I’m able to make an impact on the print industry by adding a positive mindset to my training and by encouraging future apprentices of the print industry to adapt and become more environmentally driven.”
To address our skills shortage NZ’s employers must broaden thinking about who is targeted for vocational education and training and how we train them.
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