The Search for the Next Generation
If you were to ask anyone in the graphics and visual communications markets about some of the biggest challenges facing the industry, without fail “finding and hiring qualified staff” would be at the top of the list.
According to The Manufacturing Institute, a foundation of the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM), more than 82% of manufacturers have reported moderate to serious shortages of skilled talent (Source: The Manufacturing Institute’s 2015 Skills Gap Report).
But you might reason, “I’m already in the printing industry, what can I do to help?” Simply put, we need to connect with the up-in-coming generations and show them that the printing industry is vibrant and exciting.
One way to do so is through the Graphic Arts Education and Research Foundation (GAERF). Formed in 1983 by Idealliance (formerly NAPL), NPES and Printing Industries of America, it offers several programs designed to assist print industry employers meet their manpower needs of tomorrow. Also, as you meet with your customers and hear about their hiring challenges, refer them to GAERF online: www.gaerf.org for more information about local schools that could be training their next employee. And, so that they may reach out to connect with these talented students, share this link to the list of PrintED accredited schools: ww.gaerf.org/PrintED/AccreditedPrograms.aspx.
Could you open your shop to students to let them see what goes on? Each year as part of Sign Manufacturing Day, sign companies across North America open the doors to their businesses to invite students in to see what’s it’s like to work in a print shop. Last October, 2,630 students of all ages visited sign, graphics and visual communications companies as part of Sign Manufacturing Day 2016. Sign Manufacturing Day is sponsored annually on the first Friday in October by the International Sign Association in conjunction with the National Association of Manufacturers. In 2016, 40 companies opened up 46 locations throughout the U.S. and Canada.
As a direct result of Sign Manufacturing Day, sign, graphics and visual communications companies have accepted interns, forged stronger relationships with educators and created co-op programs.
“We’ve seen companies make hires as a direct result of participation in previous Sign Manufacturing Day events,” says Lori Anderson, ISA president and CEO. “This program, and the ongoing relationship that it affords participants to develop with local community colleges, technical schools and high schools, will go a long way toward addressing the challenge of finding skilled workers.”
But what about on a local level? You might not have a technical high school in your region. Is there another way to get the students involved? Look for ways to partner with your local school districts—much like the way The Artworks in Fort Morgan, Colo. was able to partner with the Fort Morgan High School and Fort Morgan Police Department (FMPD).
Tim Malone, who serves for much of the year as Fort Morgan Police Department's school resource officer, soon will be driving around in a custom-wrapped patrol car that was designed by Fort Morgan High School students.
The concept of using a vehicle wrap for a school resource officer’s car and allowing high school students to contribute design ideas was also used by a Front Range law enforcement agency last year.
That idea was brought to the attention of FMPD’s Interim Chief Jared Crone last October, and School Resource Officer Tim Malone worked with high school officials to get the design process started. The police department worked with The Artworks, a graphic design firm that had done the police car wrap for the other agency.
The only guidance given to the high school students was that the design should reflect school spirit and have a patriotic theme. Some amazing designs were received, according to FMPD officials, and two of them seemed to really capture the idea of combining patriotism and school spirit.
The winning designs — by FMHS junior Allyson Stroh and freshman Samuel Shaver — were given to The Artworks and incorporated into the final design. That design has now been applied to Malone’s 2014 Dodge Challenger patrol car.
The new design will officially be released on January 9th in a special ceremony in front of the high school. The ceremony will reveal the car and its custom-designed “wrap” and recognize everyone who had a hand in its creation, especially the two FMHS students who contributed to the design.
“This was truly a collaborative effort by the students, the Booster Club and The Artworks, partnering with the Fort Morgan Police Department to make this unique project a reality,” says Interim Chief Crone.
Malone said The Artworks is an exceptional company.
“They have really gone above and beyond in helping us get this project completed,” Malone says. “Their willingness to stay within our budget and meet deadlines made this entire project possible.”
Denise Gustavson is the Editorial Director and Special Projects Editor for the Printing & Packaging Group, which includes Printing Impressions, packagePRINTING, In-plant Graphics and Wide-Format Impressions magazines, among other brands. She is also the Editor-in-Chief of Wide-Format Impressions.