"We Need More Attractive Training Offerings"
Little by little, print shops are running out of new blood. How
can talented employees be won and their development fostered in a
purposeful manner? Top-class experts discussed various approaches
to this question at the Print Media Academy's (PMA) second
International Educational Summit.
The print industry is growing. However, as the participants
of the second PMA Educational Summit last year in Singapore
reported, print shops in many countries can only profit from this
boom to a limited extent since they lack qualified personnel.
Particularly in industrial countries, the average age of workers
within the branch is on the rise and the resulting problems are
threatening operations. In Germany, for example, 40 percent of
managers are 55 years old or older. So what can be done?
Improve the branch's image
Bernd Schopp, Head of the PMA, sees an image problem in the
industry. According to Schopp, the still widespread "skilled
worker" image no longer corresponds to the reality: "Expertise in
both, technology and business, as well as creative abilities, are
needed in the print industry today. The industry and educational
institutions need to communicate how highly attractive the printing
profession is better than they have done it in the past."
To bring about this image change, Robert Black, Director of
International Centre of Graphic Technology
RMIT University in Brunswick, Australia, says we have to go
directly and engage with the schools on a number of levels. With
the support of the print industry, and as a first step, his Centre
distributes a promotional video to schools. The video presents the
typical high-tech workday in a print shop and illustrates the
important role of print for society and the economy.
Participants also see a need to act due to rapid changes in
technology. Educational institutions and universities have to
adjust their offerings constantly and open up to new topics like
information technology and "printed electronics" (for ex. RFID
labels). Martina Brand, Head of Marketing at the PMA, emphasizes
that these topics - which at first appear to be part of completely
different industries - are an opportunity to win new groups of
students: "We urgently need the print media industry to attract
students from other fields."
Today, an excellent knowledge of printing alone is no longer enough
to be successful. It's therefore important to focus more heavily on
teaching management skills," says Manoel Manteigas de Oliveira,
Director of the Brazilian
Escola SENAI Theobaldo De Nigris
Paulo. Additionally, topics like law, logistics and customer
acquisition should also form a part of the curriculum. "After all,
the task is to prepare students to work in various areas and
companies," says Sue Pandit, Dean of the
London College of Communication
, University of
Arts, United Kingdom.
"Study printing to see the world"
"We have to develop an attractive curriculum which opens up
global perspectives to students early on during their education,"
reminds Schopp. According to Prof. Frank Cost, Associate Dean and
Co-Director of the Printing Industry Center at the American
Rochester Institute of Technology
tag line "Study Printing to See the World" is therefore a core
message which needs to be pushed. In order to boost worldwide
career opportunities, the educational institutions want to
establish an international exchange of knowledge and harmonize
curriculum contents, as the German Hochschule der Medien (HdM) in
Stuttgart and the English London College of Communication are
Continuing evening education
Dr. Aran Hansuebsai, Head of the
Department of Imaging and Printing Technology
in the Faculty of Science at the Chulalongkorn University in
Bangkok, Thailand, is calling for more evening classes. This is the
only way businesses can keep up with the increasingly shorter
innovation cycles, for example in printing machines and software,
and quickly transform innovations into productivity increases. The
success of the evening courses in Prof. Hansuebsais' department
demonstrates how important it is to customize training for the
individual needs of working participants. Because the participants
decide the class' topics, they achieve a high level of practical
New ways of imparting knowledge
To help speed and improve the transfer of knowledge, the
American RIT created the free "Encyclopedia of Print" (
modeled on Wikipedia. "All contents can be used free of charge,"
reports Prof. Cost. If people from all educational institutions add
to the information, the "PrintWiki" could develop into a valuable
source of information for training in the print industry. In
addition, RIT also offers distance learning over the internet. At
the Brazilian SENAI, some trainees also save themselves the commute
to the classroom. The school uses converted buses equipped with
small printing presses to hold training sessions and seminars
across the country.
Strengthen cooperation with the industry
SENAI also proves exemplary in its cooperation with the
industry. In close coordination with businesses, courses are
designed to teach practical skills as well as theory. In return,
the school receives support in equipping itself with machines or
software. Bernd Schopp, Head of the PMA, encourages strengthened
cooperation with his institution since it not only ensures access
to modern equipment but also to experienced experts in the branch.
One innovative pilot project is the "Print Media Management"
training course offered by the London College of Communication in
cooperation with the PMA. Graduates have good chances on the job
market - a weighty argument, as Schopp emphasizes. He says, "The
print industry offers truly excellent prospects for the future in
terms of pay and job security."