Building the skills gap

Every employer and employee recognise the need for building knowledge, service and expertise; after all it’s what makes our businesses distinctive and stand out from the crowd. The situation during 2021 meant a significant movement and loss of workforce across every economic sector in the UK and affected the majority of businesses. As the order books start to fill, the pressure to get skills back up to the standards of excellence expected and train newcomers in the industry has taken on a new urgency.

After pressing pause on their education platform during 2020 and taking the opportunity to reset, rewrite and refresh, the BPMA relaunched their education platform with their TPM ‘Trained in Promotional Merchandise’ and CPM ‘Certified in Promotional Merchandise’ courses to great acclaim from members. Training over 100 promotional merchandise learners on the TPM course in the first few months of 2021 alone showed the commitment from employers to get skills back on the agenda. With a massive shortage of experienced staff across the UK and job boards rammed with companies searching for talent, the fast track to knowledge lies in a mixture of courses like TPM and CPM plus on the job training.

‘It’s important we have the knowhow as customers rely on us to be the experts. We’re like their secret agents they can turn to at a moment’s notice; we have all the latest products and knowledge to help them buy better for their needs’ comments Carey Trevill at the BPMA. ‘These courses have been the go-to for many years and to give them a complete refresh and re-structure last year was not only important but will help form the basis of expert promotional merchandise knowledge needed for the industry in the critical 18 months ahead as we regain losses from 2020-21. It was important to us following feedback on the reason employers use the course that TPM provided the groundwork and CPM built commercial skills. The courses are designed to not only qualify promotional merchandise professionals but also to ensure those professionals were able to understand why they are critical to contributing to the bottom line.’

Recognition of professional training

With no shortage of training available, building the recognition of industry specific training across employers and end users is also part of the BPMA’s plan. Providing the much-needed reassurance for inexperienced buyers, the BPMA is encouraging all distributors and suppliers to consider training a minimum 10% of customer facing staff for three core reasons:

  • demonstrate commitment to training and progression as employer
  • build skills and expertise from the ground up
  • tell customers your staff are experts in their field

Urging distributors to reveal the expert training their teams have undertaken, Trevill said ‘In every other situation, companies help differentiate themselves through awards and other accolades. Tell end users you’re not only trained but your staff are experts in their field. There is an opportunity to demonstrate your levels of professionalism to end users who don’t have the skills you do. That extra reassurance to your clients will underpin your strength as a business.’


Who should be taking courses?

A wide spread of distributor and growing numbers of suppliers take part in the courses; account management, sales, creative – the job titles vary but the desire to build understanding and knowledge is clear across. Choice of mandatory topics and elective topics means every learner has the chance to learn essential and new skills. Once qualified as TPM, learners can move onto CPM courses and with access to TPM content as well, a wealth of up to date course material awaits.

Employer backed

With employers such as Marke Creative, Allwag Promotions, Fluid Branding, Keylogo, BX Merchandise using the TPM course as a fundamental part of first year or refresher training; WildThang have also just signed up a raft of new trainees for 2022 across the course intakes in 2022. Intakes across the year for TPM and CPM courses start in January 2022 followed by April, July and October.

The courses are only accessible to BPMA members and there is still time to sign up in January so if training is on your agenda for 2022, get in touch with the BPMA Education team today on Courses start from £200+VAT per learner.

The BPMA would like to congratulate all those who qualified during October and November 2021


Harry Hamilton, KeyLogo

Nine Marston, Allwag Promotions

Fleur Beck, Fluid Branding

Jenine McKreith, Marke Creative

Lizzie Murphy, Allwag Promotions

Paul Howe, Allwag Promotions

Rhea Venegas, BX Merchandise


Christopher Smith, Vibrant Colour

© Copyright 2022 The BPMA | All rights reserved.