Esko (www.esko.com) recently organized for the first time a Masterclass for graduating students of the Artevelde University College Ghent who wanted to further expand their knowledge in the world of packaging. Over a ten-day period, participants underwent both theoretical and practical education that included real-life situations, allowing them to experience the complete packaging development process from design concept to ready-to-print flexo plates.
Immediately after their exams, ten students were selected to participate in the Masterclass Flexible Packaging Prepress. The purpose of this unique class was to provide a more in-depth course complementing the education program. Jan De Roeck, Director Solutions Management at Esko, explains: “Esko has a long history of supporting schools and students, whether through providing software and hardware solutions or through hands-on trainings. The educational institutes provide a broad and basic training, which we, as an industry expert, believe we can complement with insights into the latest innovations and practical field experience. As one of the leading companies in the packaging market, it is our duty not only to invest in technology development, but also to ensure that our knowledge is transferred, guaranteeing an inflow of new talent into the industry. This Masterclass fitted these objectives perfectly.”
Packaging: a growth market growing in importance
Packaging remains a strong growth segment, being augmented by a growing volume of online purchases and home delivery, which expands the range of required packaging. It is also clear that to market a product successfully, creative designs and innovative printing techniques are vital. These were reasons enough for the educational advisory board at the Artevelde University College to recommend the Masterclass. “We put the proposal forward to our students in the final year of the Department of Graphical and Digital Media, and they were unanimously positive,” says Luk Bouters, Director of Education at Artevelde University College. “We are eager to collaborate with the business community, and this Masterclass offered great opportunities to do that. We worked intensively with the Esko experts and the course also included three on-site visits to packaging companies. These were, very exceptionally, organized by the managers themselves and covered not only the technical aspects but also business and people management matters. This gave our students an excellent well-rounded view of the realities of the packaging supply chain. “
In preparation for the Masterclass, students could download a design of an existing flexible packaging from Esko’s packaging management website and personalize it with the Esko software. The designs linked the theoretical and practical lessons. Luc Berth, lecturer in prepress and workflow techniques at Artevelde University College, explains: “Our students performed a number of hands-on experiments with a diversity of Esko software applications, including prepress, 3D, workflow and collaboration tools. This enabled them to exercise their creativity, broaden their knowledge and take complete ownership of the workflow – all in a very practical and realistic manner. After going through the entire process, the results were color-accurately printed on a proofing device.”
And the students? Simon Top, Graphic Technology student, was very enthusiastic, saying: “Topics such as packaging and flexo were addressed in some of our classes, but rather basically. This program allowed us to benefit from two weeks of delving further into the topic and using the latest Esko software. Added to that were the very interesting visits which rounded out a particularly instructive Masterclass. It truly made me very interested, and a job in packaging is what really appeals to me. “
Tom Maertens, Cross Media Design student, is also convinced: “I found the practical approach really instructive. The courses at school provide the theoretical basis. Now with this unique program, we were able to experience what is going on in a real working environment. I discovered how fascinating the packaging industry is. I still have a year to do at the college, but if I then apply for a job in packaging, I will certainly have an edge over other applicants thanks to this Masterclass. “
Teachers, students, Esko staff and the Artevelde University College all rated the Masterclass initiative as a big success and one worth repeating. “We achieved our goals,” concludes De Roeck. “The students enjoyed a unique experience and succeeded in their task with flying colors. The Esko instructors were amazed about the speed at which they picked up everything. This strengthens our belief that offering complementary knowledge, supplemental to the academic curriculum, really helps young talented students to be ready for an interesting and promising career in the packaging industry.”