A Reply to John Berthelsen’s Question: 'How to Get Students Interested in Print'
You're asking a question that was probably asked by Benjamin Franklin many years ago, John. Maybe even of Gutenberg, too. I have been involved with a local trade association called the Graphic Communications Guild since the early ‘70s. In our earlier years it was called the North Side Printers Guild, since it catered to printers located on the north side of Chicago.
Times, logistics and printing techniques have changed, so several years ago we renamed it the Graphic Communications Guild, GCG for short. GCG encompasses all aspects of the “printing” industry: letterpress, offset, digital, bindery, packaging and more. In 1976 we redirected the proceeds of our annual golf outing to a scholarship program, which, about six years ago, combined forces with the Great Lakes Graphics Association (GLGA) and two other local trade associations.
A committee was established, of which I am a member along with Bill Gibson of GLGA and several heads of local printing companies and educational facilities. Our committee chairperson is Professor Dan Wilson, coordinator of Graphic Communications, Department of Technology, Illinois State University in Normal, Ill.
Each year, we contact graphic communication teachers throughout the state of Illinois at the college, junior college and high school levels. Posters are sent to them telling of our scholarship program, and we essentially beg these instructors to promote this program amongst their students. Instructions for online applications are included, so applying for a scholarship is quite easy for a student to do. Scholarships up to $3,000 per student are awarded each year. This past spring we reviewed about 23 applications and awarded $14,000 in scholarships to eight deserving students.
The point I’m trying to make is that almost every application received today is from a student who wants to concentrate on graphic design, not hands-on, get ink-on-your fingers, printing. Every year Dan, Bill and I mull over this problem, much like what John Berthelsen had referred to in his article.
In the Chicago area, technical schools are on the decline. At one time we had one of the most aggressive printing programs at the high school level at Lane Tech High School. They had the most up-to-date equipment, including four-color Heidelberg offset presses, high-speed folders, programmable paper cutters and more. We also had a junior college, Triton, which had the finest graphic communications program in the Midwest - comparable to RIT. All of the hardware is gone from both. Now, they entertain graphic design students.
We don’t have the answers needed to address the question: “Where do I get a good four-color press operator or a bindery worker for my folder or paper cutter?” But we might start with the question, which came first, the demise of the technical schools or the lack of students attending them?
Our scholarship consortium attempts to reach out to print program directors and high school instructors - and even some junior high teachers. These people have the power to promote our industry and influence students, and show them all aspects of today’s graphic communications industry. So, how do we reach them?
Locally, through our scholarship program, we do our best to contact each and every graphic communications instructor in Illinois. We’re probably 50% there and we add to our list each year. We also need to motivate local community officials and industry leaders to re-invent technology in the schools, both at the high school and middle school levels.
John Berthelsen’s approach by having printing companies join forces with schools for company tours, etc., has always been a successful way of promoting our industry. Internships, too, acquaint students with real-life printing.
The GCG is still an active trade association, and we do our best to offer plant tours, guest speakers and other meetings to promote the printing industry. Our scholarship program is part of the Illinois Graphic Communications Scholarship Program. What we do in the state of Illinois should be duplicated nationwide, with the hope that other trade associations follow suit with high school and college scholarship programs.
If you want more details on our specific program, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
About the Author
Chuck Schwartz has been involved in the graphic communications industry since 1961 when he began working at Graphic Arts Equipment Co., a local dealer of new and used equipment and supplies for the industry in the Chicago area. Currently he serves as the president of Graphic Arts Equipment Co. He also previously served as the president of a local trade association, the Graphic Communications Guild, and previously served on the committee of the Illinois Graphic Communications Scholarship Program.
Related story: How to Get Students Interested in Print
Chuck Schwartz has been involved in the Graphic Communications Industry since 1961 when he began working at Graphic Arts Equipment Co., a local dealer of new and used equipment and supplies for the industry in the Chicago, Ill., area. Currently he serves as the president of Graphic Arts Equipment Co. He also previously served as the president of a local trade association, the Graphic Communications Guild and previously served on the committee of the Illinois Graphic Communications Scholarship Program.