Education and Recruitment — Cure for Workforce Woes?
GENERAL COMMERCIAL printing is a $60 billion industry, employing about 300,000 workers. Due to normal attrition, and a fair amount of people (mostly baby boomers) retiring from the industry each year, there are 30,000 to 40,000 openings in the general commercial market at any given time. Yet, there are only about 1,000 college students graduating with printing degrees annually. Industrywide, including all graphic arts companies, there are about one million people employed, with an additional 60,000 job openings.
That eye-opening information, provided by Ted Ringman, vice president of development for the Print and Graphics Scholarship Foundation (PGSF), provides an alarming visual of the quandary facing our industry today.
“Printing is a manufacturing industry, and printers are doing more with less—that is, technology is providing higher output,” Ringman says. “But, print differs from some other manufacturing segments because print will always be with us, and there will always be jobs available in the printing industry. Thus, there will always be a need for workers.”
So why is the industry facing a skilled labor shortage that is near crisis magnitude?
The answer to that question, as well as potential solutions, was discussed in Part One of this article in our March issue. Here, in Part Two, industry experts delve further into the dilemma and, most importantly, explore other possible remedies.
—Dean Flowers, associate dean, Harry V. Quadracci Printing & Graphics Center, Waukesha County Technical College (WCTC), Pewaukee, WI; e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
One of the concerns in our industry is the misconception that printing is blue-collar work. Printing is more than running a press. There are hundreds of other opportunities for graduates; operating a press is only one of them.
Students that opt for a four-year degree in printing are planning on an administrative career path. They may have visions of obtaining an executive-level position or perhaps owning a printing company some day.