Nick attends Highbury College in Portsmouth once a week on a Business Administration HNC – this is the learning part of his course. Highbury College run the course continuously so students can enrol throughout the year. They start when the next module starts and keep attending until they have completed them all.
He is also doing an NVQ level 4. This he does in his own time and uses evidence and learning from the workplace. His tutor from Highbury comes out to assess him and so far it is really working well.
As an employer, we are learning so much through Nick. All the modern software systems, lots of new policy implementation at the moment as well as re-evaluating things we have done for years. He is already suggesting new niches we might adopt and we have adopted a few new working practices too.
For Nick, it means he has no educational debt but he will have an educational qualification valid in any type of business (not just limited to the sign industry) as well as proven hands on experience in the sign industry. Business Administration can be taken to degree level standard.
So how do you go about becoming a sign writer?
Dependent on where you live in the UK, you might be lucky. Sign writing courses tend to be aimed at those wanting more of a caligraphy skill, so art or craft colleges may offer some insight. If you want to learn vehicle wrapping then many of the larger vinyl suppliers will run courses, or even do 1-2-1 sessions. But far and away the best way to get into the business is to join a company and learn as you go. You can still do the courses but many of them take hours of practice so without regular hands-on use, the skills you learn in a one week course will be lost. As an employer, I would say that a good knowledge of maths and english language are pretty essential, but the most important thing is a can-do attitude and patience. Some customers really do not know what they want and it is our job, as a sign maker to work out what they are trying to achieve before we can work our magic.