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It's All About People


By Gerard Heanue, Managing Director of Heidelberg UK

Employer organisations do incredible work behind the scenes and I was delighted to be invited recently to become Chairman of Picon, the body which represents the main graphic arts suppliers in the UK. This type of confederation is useful as a lobbying force with Government or other influential bodies and also in providing services such as legal advice, international exhibition bookings etc I am absolutely committed during my two year tenure at PICON to encourage training and the development of skills within the graphic arts sector. I think the BPIF, which represents the printing companies, has done an incredible job in this area and now has 663 apprentices in place in the UK.

Too often we read about the “de-skilling” of print. Certainly the automation, artificial intelligence and increasingly the Internet of Everything is taking away some of the slog of a bygone age. But the theme should not be “deskilling” but about “reskilling”. We now have the most incredible tools for high output and process control but we can only use those to optimum effect if we understand what our end goal should be. What do we mean by high productivity? We have to be able to benchmark where we are and where we could be. What colour standards work best? If we don’t understand the basics of colour and how to use the tools to calibrate and control results through a run, from run to run, and indeed from machine to machine or print site to print site, then we are no further forward.

At Heidelberg we take on apprentices most years, mostly in service areas but also in administrative roles. We also encourage staff to undertake technical and professional qualifications. Bringing in young people secures the future of our businesses and encourages us to look at issues with fresh eyes.

The new generation is much more technology savvy; they are used to working or amusing themselves with multi-screens and don’t hesitate to explore and experiment online in ways that senior executives would not dream of doing. That means that as we train and educate young people we must also be open to being retrained ourselves. Often they hold the key to enabling us to harness new ways of selling, new ways of producing, new ways of running our businesses.

Heidelberg itself runs many courses, some machine specific but also many that have a wider business perspective. Businesses need the right equipment, the right strategies but an absolute key to success is the right people, motivated and ready to learn and develop.

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