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COMPARED WITH U.S. – BPMA head of education and best practice, Daniela Arena, had an opportunity to measure up the American attitude to education

On a recent visit to the ASI (Advertising Speciality Institute) education day and trade show in Chicago I was lucky enough to meet some truly amazing industry folk. They are just as passionate and committed to raising standards, sharing knowledge with others and supporting and inspiring businesses to grow as we are here within the BPMA community.

The ASI education day offered 10 streams of seminars that were delivered by a wide range of professional speakers on the circuit and some highly regarded, established industry professionals. There is a real enthusiasm to learn and to be better at what they do each working day amongst our American cousins. I spoke with ASI members who attended the education day and the general feeling was “why wouldn’t I be here today? I can learn and be inspired from a wide range of topics delivered by specialist speakers, it’s always good to learn and take a few pieces of information away with you to apply to the business the following day.”

A woman who runs her business singlehanded told me she felt the education day gave her more confidence and reassurance in what she was doing as a start-up business. I left the education day thinking about our own members and how some truly embrace learning and professional development for themselves as well as their staff and how others simply do not feel anyone can teach them anything they don’t already know.

Attitudes to training and development are so different in the US compared to here in the UK and of course I would want far more within the industry engaged and tuned into training and development. How can we engage and get more industry peers switched on to continuous learning? It’s certainly not subsidised or free training and it’s not always the time factor either. I began to compare the education day with the established BPMA education day that we run in January the day before Merchandise World.

One observation is that there was perhaps a bit too much choice for ASI delegates, so some of the seminars ended up being a little basic for more experienced industry professionals. Another take out from Chicago is that there was less opportunity to network and socialise with industry peers than we are used to at our events in the UK. Overall though, there was plenty of food for thought on how we do things over here.

Education remains at the forefront of what we do and deliver as a trade body. We have stepped it up a gear and now offer even more in the way of regional gatherings and factory tours, webinars, a BPMA education day and our established online education platform, not to mention our Brexit Summit on 11th September the day before Merchandise World in Farnborough, all of which we would like you to be involved in.

Do these events meet your expectations and do you learn and get inspired by them? That is what is important to us most of all. We value all the comments and feedback we get from members and the industry at large. We put these events on for you, for your benefit and your development. I’d love to hear from anyone reading this who wants to share their views, thoughts and ideas on the training and development offered by the trade association, and if you have seen a speaker that you think we’d all love then please do let me know.

September sees us all returning to work and jumping back into the hamster wheel after a quiet August and if you were lucky a vacation. September has traditionally always been a busy time for those wishing to train and develop skills which is why we will be offering a Fast Track programme on the BPMA Education Programme. Our Fast Track programme saves managers time and offers learners the opportunity to be part of a ‘fast track’ group that has a beginning, middle and end.

It offers a free introductory seminar, factory visits and an exam deadline that they are all working towards together. They are still expected to use self-discipline to study but by having these milestones and deadlines it really helps them focus and stay motivated. I’m sure that’s something that our American cousins would appreciate.


The TPM (Trained in Promotional Merchandise) course is a purposebuilt entry-level course that delivers key trends, basic fundamentals and the latest industry topics through a mix of online video and study material. Enrolling on the TPM course as a part of the BPMA’s September Fast Track includes:

  • A free introductory seminar in, London on 27 September
  • Supplier factory visits with dates throughout October and November
  • 12 months of access to the online study platform
  • Mandatory content includes; an introduction to the industry, screen printing, artwork, origination and proofing, and customer service
  • Elective study – access to more than 75 videos and PDF content across 14 subject categories. Categories include: product categories, decoration techniques, customer service, sales, product compliance, marketing and many more
  • An online invigilated, timed multiple choice question exam
  • A graduation ceremony at a top London venue in March/April 2019.

If you would like to see a demo video and learn more about the education programme please do get in touch with Daniela Arena or George Turnbull, BPMA membership account manager. Communications about all education events can be found on BPMA social media channels, emails and the events page

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