Commentary & Analysis
Dear Mr. Educator, I Need Your Help
by Frank Kanonik I need somebody on staff that can help me to develop a strategy that will keep me a viable and profitable company.
By WhatTheyThink Staff
Published: April 19, 2005
by Frank Kanonik I need somebody on staff that can help me to develop a strategy that will keep me a viable and profitable company. April 19, 2005 -- "I'm the owner of a printing company. I'm changing my business model to incorporate more digital printing and the additional services that go along with it. I need people who understand the changes that are occurring in both my and my customers world and can help me to be successful in the coming years. I need people that can work with databases and that can help me manage my customers on-line ordering needs. I need somebody on staff that can help me to develop a strategy that will keep me a viable and profitable company. I'm not sure of what type of technology to invest in and what types of skill sets that are needed to keep it running. I've been looking for these types of people lately, without success. I'm finding thatI either have to hire from another printer and pay top dollar or groom some of my internal staff. I'm asking you as a graphic arts educator--how can you help me? The above example of an owners frustration is unfortunately becoming more and more common today. Finding and retaining good people in our industry can be quite a challenge. But overshadowing today's problem is a much bigger one, that is, what are we as an industry going to do in the future? We will need people who have skills that we don't even have job descriptions written for yet. There is only so much productivity that we can squeeze out of the latest software or equipment. It still takes trained people to make the right decisions on what process or workflow to use and how to use it properly. And, as our industry matures and transforms once again because of digital printing, we will need people who have skills that we don't even have job descriptions written for yet. Who would have thought that we would need database programmers just six or seven years ago? Pete Rivard has eloquently stated in a series of articles: Trolling for Students The Useful Arts (part 2 of the Trolling for Students series) They Do Make Them Like They Used To (part 3 of the Trolling for Students series) Evangelism (part 4 of the Trolling for Students series) His overall theme is that the young people of today are not aware of just how exciting and lucrative that the graphic arts industry can be. This has been a problem over the years and as Pete has mentioned, we should all be thankful to the dedicated teachers and educators that help to form our future workers. The challenge to our industry's educators are great and are appreciated. As we move into the next phase of the graphic arts industry's transformation, let's rephrase the title of this article to "What can you do to help?" I've been privileged to have worked with many of these fine educators over the years through the gatherings and updates supported by the Graphic Arts Education and Research Foundation (GAERF) These educators have a genuine love for our industry. And because of my prior employment with the Graphic Arts Technical Foundation (GATF), I had the pleasure of meeting many of the scholarship recipients of the Print and Graphics Scholarship Fund (PGSF). The PGSF bestowed $227,000 to 202 of our future employees in the year 2004. According to Bernie Eckert, the program administrator of PGSF, she receives about 5000 inquiries a year from young people who want to know more about our industry and the PGSF. And in turn, she receives approximately 3000 scholarship applications per year. The PGSF bestowed $227,000 to 202 of our future employees in the year 2004. When I talked to Bernie this morning I could sense her disappointment that PGSF couldn't do more. As she says "I've met many of the scholarship recipients and they are so thankful that they have the opportunity to concentrate on their education and have a bit of the financial pressure lifted from them thanks to PGSF. A common remark made by recipients is that they will continue the tradition and contribute to the PGSF as they advance in their careers." The first step in getting a young person to choose graphic arts as a career is to help get them interested. According to Bernie, individuals, graphic arts companies, vendors and associations contribute to the PGSF to ensure our industry has a supply of talented individuals for the future. The Graphic Arts Education and Research Foundation (GAERF) is a major source of financial support for education and research projects designed to promote careers in graphic communications. The first step in getting a young person to choose graphic arts as a career is to help get them interested. GAERF has awarded over $4.5 million to fund more than 125 projects at more than 45 institutions since its founding in 1983. Of particular interest is the Make Your Mark program, which is designed to create a positive image of our industry. There are many people and organizations that are helping you to prepare for your future staffing needs. Help them by contributing to their scholarships, help them by volunteering to share your printing industry wisdom, help them by interning a student. By helping them today, you are helping to secure our future! Contact information: Print and Graphics Scholarship Fund (PGSF) www.gain.net 412-259-1740. Arts Education and Research Foundation (GAERF) www.gaerf.org 703-264-7200 Make Your Mark program www.makeyourmark.org Graph Comm Central www.teched.vt.edu/gcc