Workforce Solutions: Overcoming Obstacles
When it comes to finding and retaining talent, there are a variety of obstacles today’s printers face. But with careful planning, they can be overcome. As you walk the PRINT 17 show floor this year, don’t just consider the increased speeds, better quality, or new applications the equipment on display might bring to your shop. Be thinking about the people you’ll need to get the most out of these investments as well—do you already have them on staff? Will you need to invest in training? Will you need to recruit new professionals?
It is probably no surprise that technology itself is the single biggest obstacle you’ll face when you think about personnel. One area that has seen a shift in the technology that powers it is prepress. The skills that a qualified prepress operator needed just five years ago aren’t the same as the skills they need today.
“I think the biggest obstacle in staffing a prepress department is in ensuring those employees are ‘tech savvy’ and that those employees stay up to date with the software trends in the prepress field,” notes Bob Weber Inc. (Booth 3663) Business Development Director, Bill Weber. “As many smaller shops are making the jump from outdated processes, ensuring that their prepress employees have the necessary computer skills to transition from hand stripping layouts to operating complex imposition software becomes of great importance. This may require a reshuffling of a prepress department, or the hiring of new employees who are able to better navigate the digital landscape.”
Prepress isn’t the only department seeing this change, either. “Finding qualified personnel who understand the technology and application side is not easy,” says David Conrad, Director of Sales and Marketing, Mutoh America (Booth 4241). “Training and education is key. Finding a fully trained individual is rare, and just means someone else has lost that person. The time, money, and effort spent training is high, and the return is great if you can maintain those qualified individuals. Keeping those key players engaged, active, and satisfied is important so they feel integrated into the team and don’t get lured away to ‘greener pastures.’”
And that might be the biggest obstacle of all. Finding people who want to learn can be difficult. Creating a training program that ensures they have the skills they need to be successful can be done with the help of resources, from associations to universities and beyond. But keeping those employees once you have them can be the hardest part. Once they have the skills, they are suddenly even more in demand, and not just from the printer down the street, but from other industries who are trying to win the best talent in the market at the same time. There is no one answer for how to retain your most skilled individuals, but every shop owner and manager should be thinking about it. A few things to consider: