Education Summit Held During PRINT 09

Friday, October 16, 2009

Pittsburgh, PA -- The Education Summit for Graphic Communication (ESGC) held its fourth session during the recent PRINT show held in Chicago. This consortium was formed by a group of individuals (representing printers, educators, vendors, and associations) who share a common purpose and goal of increasing awareness of our industry among young people. The most public example of this effort has been a gathering of educators, vendors, and printers held during the annual show in Chicago. This session, held to present information and share ideas, was the best attended yet with over 160 in the audience.
ESGC Working Task Force
In addition to the annual summit a group of highly motivated individuals representing a broad spectrum of the industry also holds monthly teleconference calls as a working task force. The group updates each other about specific goals and action items had been established by other working committees.

Due to the efforts of these volunteer individuals, and through the support of several industry associations, the ESGC has been able to accomplish important goals for the future. Here are some of the results:
Working Towards New Improved Government Job Classifications
For many years, the federal government has been using outdated job descriptions for gathering data about the industry which is used for Standard Occupational Classification. These classifications affect not only how the industry workforce information is reported, but also how it is used by researchers, career counselors, and how school funding and training programs are handled. After many years of working with the Office of Management and Budget and the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), in 2009 new job descriptions and industry comments were accepted. This is a major step forward with the government towards recording how many prepress technicians are employed rather than the number of linotype operators. ESGC is continuing to work with the BLS to effect additional positive changes.
Attracting New Generations via Social Networking
In an effort to reach out to the "X and Y" generations, the ESGC group initiated significant activity on social networking channels. Our industry now has a presence in the virtual world located on Second Life at "Printalution Island." It is a spot for educators, students, potential students, and any interested parties to visit and learn from. It will continue to broaden as more educators and industry representatives step forward and realize a new understanding of how to engage students.

Social networking is also present though the use of the Graphic Communication Network (GC Net), a site created using the Ning technology. This is a social networking site to learn about and interact with fellow members of the graphics industry. A growing population of educators is using the site on a regular basis. Many have formed specialty groups to share information and resources around curricula and timely topics. Facebook and Twitter accounts also continue to gain awareness and attract new users to the primary sites.
A newly updated and completely made over website was re-launched in September 2009. GraphicCOMMcentral is designed to be a central resource and connection for information about the industry. This valuable resource is sponsored and supported by the Graphic Arts Education and Research Foundation (GAERF). It offers cutting-edge information about industry markets and trends, technology updates, education and career opportunities, and important industry news. It will be continuously updated in order to provide the best information for industry personnel, educators, and students.
PGSF Endowment Continues to Grow
The Print and Graphic Scholarship Foundation continues to grow its endowment and supports hundreds of students who are pursuing careers in the industry. In its over 50-year history, the Foundation has provided scholarships to over 6,000 students. Printing Industries of America estimates that, on average, 40,000-50,000 new employees are hired annually. In the past year, $360,000 was awarded to students attending 87 different schools. There are currently 4,000 students studying graphic communications or printing in approximately 220 colleges and universities. Giving support to the mission of the PGSF can be a big step in helping to address a major challenge to the future employment needs of the printing industry.
Choosing a Career in Graphic Communications Industry
In a joint effort with Kodak, the ESGC produced a nine-minute video where Jeff Hayzlett
Choosing a Career in the Graphic Communications Industry. The video was placed on YouTube, made available as a downloadable link, and distributed by DVD to schools across the country. It presents information on the types of job prospects that young people can look forward to in the graphics field. Concurrently, a large poster was also produced and distributed giving detailed information on the industry with an overview, job outlook, and compensation opportunities.  

Expanding Efforts to Link Printers and Schools
Finally, one of the ESGC teams is working on expanding efforts to encourage printing companies to work with their local schools. The Virginia Printing Foundation has a model program called the "Ambassadors for Print and Graphics," which has been very successful.
A recent study by Professor Dan Wilson at Illinois State University indicated that the primary reason young people get interested in the graphics industry was due to the influence of their high school teacher. The organzation feels that with these types of programs being shut down all over the country, we can ill afford to ignore means and methods to make young people aware of our field. The individuals who have participated in the Education Summit for the past few years have made tremendous progress, and their efforts are to be applauded. It is important for each and every one of us and for each and every graphics company to also do our part.