Heidelberg USA's Susan Nofi on Educating the Next Generation of Printers
KENNESAW, Ga. — December 12, 2016 — With many printing industry professionals retiring in the coming years, the graphic arts industry will need to attract new talent to fill those positions to move our industry forward. Susan Nofi, senior VP, human resources and general counsel, for Heidelberg USA, has been influential in promoting vocational development and securing the next generation of graphic communications professionals.
"I hear from customers and vendors, and I know first-hand, that there is a profound urgency in the printing industry for training and education. This is necessary in the new technologies, the new go-to-market strategies, as well as in the basics of print," says Nofi. "Meeting this need in times of massive change and economic instability has been a challenge for the past decade."
Nofi has helped meet that need through her involvement in Heidelberg's participation in SkillsUSA — a partnership of students, teachers and industry professionals who work together to train and create tomorrow's skilled workforce. Heidelberg USA hosted its ninth annual SkillsUSA Georgia Competition in Advertising Design and Graphic Communications at its Print Media Center last March. The Printing and Imaging Association of Georgia (PIAG) partnered with Heidelberg to sponsor the event.
Heidelberg USA loaned a number of sheetfed offset presses and, for the first time, also sponsored the digital printing portion of the competition where Heidelberg representatives conducted training and assessment using a Linoprint CP digital press. According to Nofi, Heidelberg lends four to six presses for use in the national competition and sends four technical support people to facilitate the installation and to proctor the competition.
“Here in Georgia we trained two SkillsUSA winners to compete in World Skills, the next step for SkillsUSA winners,” Nofi notes. In addition, Heidelberg also lends the equipment to the global competition through its local affiliates.
The SkillsUSA Georgia competition featured advertising design, graphic communications and screen printing components. The advertising design competitors were given three hours to compose, design and execute a logo and full-color advertisement.
The graphic communications students were required to demonstrate their competency in four key areas: prepress, offset printing, finishing and digital printing.
In addition to her involvement in promoting SkillsUSA, Nofi serves as current chair of The Print and Graphics Scholarship Fund (PGSF), is a past board member of the Accrediting Council for Collegiate Graphic Communications and is an advisory board member for the California Polytechnic Graphic Communication program.
"Advocacy for these programs is crucial — the advisory boards of these organizations and others that support the industry have a responsibility to advocate to their peers, to their government representatives, including school boards, to their alma maters, and to technical schools about the value of training for a job in print," Nofi stresses.
So what advice does she have for those just starting a career in print? "Learn everything you can; understand how your company works and how your customers work."