Printing Research Study Reveals Actionable Advice for Finding, Retaining Skilled Workers
Production and sales employees are the cornerstone of successful commercial printing organizations, yet finding and hiring staff is an ongoing challenge for print service providers. While attracting skilled workers to the printing industry has been a challenge for many years, it is only intensifying as younger workers pursue careers in other industries.
Finding Staff Key Operational Challenge
According to recent NAPCO Research survey of Printing Impressions’ readers, finding skilled production workers is one of the biggest operational challenges print providers face. Making matters worse, respondents report that many of their current print production staff will retire over the next few years, and that they have no clear idea as to how they will replace those workers.
Close to 60% of survey respondents face the difficult task of finding qualified and skilled production employees to fill open positions. At the same time, respondents expect that, on average, 21% of their skilled workers will retire in the next 5 to 10 years.
About the Study
Given the critical importance of staffing operations, NAPCO Research and Printing Impressions (units of NAPCO Media LLC) initiated a research study (sponsored by the Specialty Graphic and Imaging Association) to:
- Identify the key challenge PSPs encounter in recruiting skilled production workers;
- Define the best strategies and tactics that PSPs are using to recruit and retain production staff;
- Review the strategies PSPs are following to position their companies as desirable employers.
NAPCO Research conducted an online survey in September and 180 PSPs responded. Most respondents (63%) were commercial printers and held executive and managerial positions within their organizations. The majority (94%) of respondents do not have a unionized workforce.
Factors Influencing Staffing
The most significant factors affecting most respondents in their ability to staff operations, in rank order, are a limited applicant pool, perceived lack of interest in the industry among potential employees, and access to workforce talent.
PSP Investing in Training
Hand-in-hand with trouble accessing a large enough pool of candidates is the challenge of finding the skill sets necessary to succeed in today’s competitive environment. Survey respondents were asked what actions they had taken to address worker skill shortages. Most PSPs have taken matters in hand and are offering more training, either in-house training programs (38% of respondents) or cross-training programs (53% of respondents).
As for workforce recruiting and retention efforts, respondents are not being as creative as they could be in their efforts to remedy the situation. The most popular methods of recruitment cited by respondents – referrals by current employees, online job boards, and personal networking – all have their place in hiring. But it’s clear that these traditional techniques aren’t enough when 80% of respondents report that they consistently or occasionally find it difficult to fill press operator jobs and other key production positions.
Attracting and retaining skilled workers is key not only to achieving the required levels of profitability, but also to ensuring that the industry remains relevant and competitive. Download the full report to gain valuable insights into best practices for hiring and retaining workforce talent.
Lisa Cross is the principal analyst of NAPCO Research (a unit of NAPCO Media) where she conducts market research and analysis on emerging trends and changing dynamics in the commercial, in-plant and packaging industries, and the market forces that are driving those changes. With decades of experience covering the graphic arts and marketing industries, Cross has authored thousands of articles on a variety of topics, including technology trends, business strategy, sales, marketing and legislation.