Education in the name of progress

4 March 2004 (Last Updated March 4th, 2004 18:30)

WPO education officer Keith Pearson stresses the importance of continuous education and training in the packaging sector, and looks at the crucial role that WPO plays here.

One of WPO's main missions is to 'stimulate education and training in packaging'. This is a very high calling and requires unity of purpose from the 35 member countries. WPO members are at varying degrees of advancement, which means that there are opportunities for the implementation of a mentoring process where knowledge transfer becomes a reality.

WPO places its main emphasis on the WorldStar packaging awards programme, which has been running very successfully for many years. A WorldStar award is highly regarded and there are normally around 350 entries. The actual awards event is held on an annual basis, and the awards are presented at the gala evening, which is hosted by a different WPO member each year.

In an endeavour to further promote the 'art and science of packaging' amongst students, the organisation will be commencing a student WorldStar awards event during 2004. This will be a process of 'adding value' for WPO members and strengthening participating countries' national student events.

WPO is becoming increasingly conscious of the need to support packaging education, particularly amongst developing countries. The organisation offers a one-day seminar product that can be run on a stand-alone basis or alongside a packaging event such as a packaging exhibition.

This type of packaging education event has proved popular and is used by some of the organisation's members in their own countries. It is recommended that WPO take responsibility for, or assist in, arranging one-day seminars in countries that would find this type of support advantageous.

Ghana moves forward

A tried and tested conduit for the transfer of packaging knowledge is the packaging workshop; typically, such an event is run over four days and incorporates syndicate work.

This type of approach was recently used to good effect in Ghana, where WPO took responsibility for a packaging event by supplying lecturers from their members in South Africa and by financing the event. Thanks to the respect that the organisation commands in the world, access to senior government officials, the media and business as a whole was made easier.

Apart from organising a workshop with useful lectures, an institute of packaging was inaugurated. Thus, Ghana is now one of the countries that will benefit from a strong, vibrant and focused packaging industry. This will contribute to the reduction of food waste and support the country's export initiatives. WPO is privileged to have fulfilled its education and training mission in Ghana.

Stimulating activities

Historically, WPO has sponsored education programmes at various locations around the world, where workshops have been arranged and run by the organisation's members. A natural follow-on is a one-year diploma course that students can participate in. Many WPO members run this type of course on a part-time basis or by correspondence. There is also provision for the development of a 'train the trainer' course.

In the future, WPO will focus more on identifying countries that could make use of its assistance.

By developing training and educational capabilities, the organisation will play an important role in supporting the growth potential of developing countries and, at the same time, provide members with opportunities to develop their packaging education capabilities and give meaning to its stated purpose of 'stimulating education and training in packaging'.