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Carrickfergus teenager wins Print Media Apprentice of the Year Award

A teenager from Carrickfergus has been named ‘Print Media Apprentice of the Year’ at the recent 43rd Irish Print Awards in Dublin – attended by over 500 professionals from across the print and press sector.

Nineteen-year-old Lee Bradley has since been nominated for a second award, at the Belfast Met Skills & Apprenticeships Awards.

Lee was the first apprentice to be recruited to the Northside Graphics Training Academy. Established in 1988, Northside Graphics is understood to be NI’s oldest and largest digital printing company and employs over 70 staff. The firm launched its specialist Training Academy in June 2021 following a period of sustained growth, despite challenges posed by the pandemic, with full-time apprenticeships offered to candidates aged 16-24 in conjunction with Belfast Met, who deliver the training on Northside’s premises.

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Lee was crowned winner in recognition of outstanding personal growth and his demonstration of aptitude for working within the print media industry.

Lee Bradley, Northside Graphics, who has been named ‘Print Media Apprentice of the Year’ at the recent 43rd Irish Print Awards in Dublin. pictured with Ian Cairns, Belfast Met

“I was so shocked to win the award,” Lee said, “but I was proud to pick it up on behalf of Northside, which is an incredible place to work. To be nominated for a second award now as well is amazing.”

Lee was encouraged to apply for the Training Academy by his father.

“My dad saw the apprenticeship advertised on a billboard in Belfast and encouraged me to go for it, since I had been studying Graphic Design at Northern Regional College and was interested in the printing industry,” he explained.

“Over the past nine months I have gained a fantastic insight into the industry and developed wide-ranging skills that I know will enable me to pursue a lifelong career in digital printing. I have particularly enjoyed gaining more knowledge and practical experience in the HP Indigo Digital Printing Process and hope this continues.”

The ‘Print Media Apprentice NI of the Year’ category at the Irish Print Awards was open to students undertaking any form of print-related qualification, from an in-house apprenticeship or degree.

Lee said: “I am grateful to the Northside team who, along with my tutor from Belfast Met, Ian Cairns, have done so much for me over the past few months to help me develop my softer skills and confidence alongside the more technical skills required.”

Northside Graphics Operations Director Richard Campbell said: “Lee exemplifies all that is good about our Training Academy – quickly demonstrating a flare and natural ability to develop the skills required to succeed in our industry, underpinned by his tremendous enthusiasm, ambition and hunger to learn.”