The FIRST Operator Certification Program is a curriculum composed of multi-level courses designed to deliver and assess specific flexographic skill sets and knowledge via online course study and examinations. Currently, an individual can become FIRST Press Operator Certified, and soon a FIRST Prepress Operator Certification will be available. Regardless of which designation one chooses to pursue, trainees must complete coursework consisting of three levels before becoming officially FIRST Operator Certified.
“The FIRST Operator Certification Program is an industry asset, for both the individual becoming certified as well as his/her employer. It is the flexo industry’s standard of excellence and we expect the vast majority of CPC’s (Consumer Products Company) will be requiring that partnering printers/converters become FIRST Certified in the very near future,” says FTA Education Director Joe Tuccitto.
FTA President Mark Cisternino adds, “The benefits are numerous. By certifying their operators, printers and converters will learn exactly how to implement FIRST to achieve color-accurate, consistent and repeatable results, time and time again. As a result, they can expect to increase productivity, reduce waste and errors, and ultimately win new and repeat business.”
The program consists of three levels, each designed to improve technical expertise, enhance hands-on skills, and polish to perfection one’s flexographic vocabulary and communication skills. By the completion of Level III, the individual will have attained a high level of technical acumen of the flexographic printing process, with expert knowledge of the specifications outlined in FIRST.
In an effort to aid its members and help offset the cost of the program, FTA has found that substantial government grant money for employee training is currently available through many Workforce Investment Boards (WIBs) throughout the United States. To date, individual FTA member companies have been approved for more than $40,000 in grants to support workforce training. Every community in all 50 states and the District of Columbia is associated with a local WIB. Grant money is available through most of these agencies that can be used to subsidize up to 100 percent of employee training.