Proposed Perkins Funding Increase Set to Aid Printers in Finding New Skilled Labor
Printers are facing the challenging predicament of finding skilled workers who can be recruited and trained to run presses, binders, and other printing machinery. As skilled labor is becoming more difficult to find, printers are also facing the oncoming “Silver Tsunami” of retiring print workers, adding to the severity of the problem. Since this problem is not exclusive to the printing industry, printers must compete for new workers against other manufacturers, the health care industry, construction fields, and the trades. Researchers estimate that 30% of all job openings in the next decade will require less than four years of postsecondary education. Printing Industries of America (Booth 3802) has been watching this issue as it has unfolded over the past few years, and seeks to develop and support new ways that printers can recruit and retain workers as demand and competition for skilled labor is increasing.
While these challenges are daunting, potential solutions are underway. First, with sweeping bipartisan support, the Perkins Career and Technical Education (CTE) bill has been reauthorized by the House of Representatives, and is moving through the rest of the authorization process. The Perkins Act provides federal funding to states for high school and community college career and technical education, such as teaching the skills needed to operate modern printing equipment. This newest version of the Perkins Act increases CTE funding by 9% over six years.
In addition, President Trump has stated his support for CTE programs, and signed an executive order expanding apprenticeship programs and vocational training. The executive order calls on the Secretaries of Labor, Education, and Commerce to work together to propose regulations that promote development of apprenticeship programs by businesses, trade groups, nonprofit corporations, unions, and joint labor-management organizations. Printing Industries of America is reaching out to the DOL to be a voice for the print industry in the development of these programs.
The anticipated financial support for CTE makes working in manufacturing or other skilled labor an attractive career path. The College Board reports that a moderate college budget for in-state tuition to get a four-year degree will cost around $100,000. Post-collegiate student loan debt payments average $351 each month. After adding in the average cost of renting an apartment (approximately $700 per month); owning a car ($561 per month); and the essentials, such as food, utilities, cell phones, and recreation, many graduates cannot comfortably support themselves.
Alternately, the average cost of a trade school education totals just $33,000. Not only is there a dramatic, immediate cost savings, CTE students have the added benefit of securing an apprenticeship that will pay a respectable wage while they are learning. The high demand for skilled labor promises students will be able to use their degree, which cannot always be said about many students with a bachelor’s degree.
Printing Industries of America has begun reaching out to lawmakers about CTE funding and will continue reaching out to policy makers and helping devise methods to dimish the impact of the Silver Tsunami to our industry. It will continue to monitor the situation, and provide solutions to printers to address this pressing issue.