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Commentary & Analysis

What Can We Do?

By Noel Ward,

By WhatTheyThink Staff
Published: April 4, 2005

By Noel Ward, Executive Editor We have done just as poor a job marketing printing as a career option as we have in promoting print April 4, 2005 -- The most interesting column this week, at least to my way of thinking, doesn't comes from a vendor or analyst. Running today is the 4th installment of Pete Rivard's series, "Trolling for Students." Since January, Pete has recounted the roller coaster ride of trying to make high school students aware of the career options and potential available to them in the graphic arts industry--and the training available at Dunwoody College of Technology. This month he speaks out to print providers, analysts, vendors, and journalists, asking us all to look for ways of getting kids taking their first steps into the world beyond high school to think about our industry. Coincidentally, I spent some time last week talking with a technology teacher at my daughter's high school. He worked for Scitex back when it was the master of prepress and was fascinated to hear how digital printing has changed. Hearing what I do, he kind of put the arm on me to come talk to students and also pointed me to the marketing teacher who would love to have someone talk about what digital printing can do for direct marketing. So I'll be lining up a few speaking gigs to enlighten some kids about just what can be done these days. It ought to be interesting. I'll report back as it happens. Our industry has become incredibly dependent on technology. It needs skilled people in positions ranging from design to running a digital press to sales and even management. In fact, finding people with the level of skills required is a growing challenge for business owners and in-plant print shop managers. Yet as an industry we have done just as poor a job marketing printing as a career option as we have in promoting print --especially digital print--as a still-vibrant media choice. As the cache of print ebbs, enrollments for degrees related to printing declines, even at prestigious schools like RIT. As you read Pete's words, I urge you to think ways to promote printing to the young people who could shortly be working in and running the print shops of this century. I think of how print has changed since I first became involved in the late 1980s, and how technology always accelerates the rate of change. Printing, as my colleague Gail Nickel-Kailing pointed out so well last week on WTT.com, is no longer just ink or toner on paper. We need to act now to raise young people's awareness of the opportunities our industry can provide, lest we are faced with a labor shortage far more critical than the ones print providers face today. I welcome any dialogue on this topic. We're all smart people and we know how to think ahead. What can we do--individually and collectively--to help encourage young people to consider our industry as one with potential and a place where they can do great work? Let's talk.

 

 

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