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PGAMA Takes Active Role to Turn Students into Employees

Tuesday, August 02, 2011

Press release from the issuing company

Columbia, Maryland-From hosting professional development for secondary instructors, to showcasing student skills, to providing academic scholarships; the Printing & Graphics Association MidAtlantic (PGAMA) is taking an active role in developing a future workforce for the Printing Industry. Recent efforts included a 3-day professional development conference for PrintED instructors; the training and support of a local student participating in the national SkillsUSA Graphic Communications competition; and the award of partial college scholarships by PGAMA's Education Fund.

The educators' conference, held June 28-30th in partnership with Maryland State Department of Education (MSDE), featured an engaging presentation by Chief Folding Fanatic, Trish Witkowski, of the FoldFactory, a tour of PGAMA member company Dixie Printing & Packaging Corporation in Glen Burnie, MD, and a PrintED curriculum development session led by Luke Rhine of MSDE. 17 secondary graphic communications/printing instructors from around the region attended the conference to get first-hand knowledge of how they could better prepare their students to join the workforce. The instructors in attendance all teach at PrintED accredited schools. PrintED is a nationally recognized accreditation program for graphic communications programs developed in part by industry members. PGAMA has partnered with MSDE since 2003 to help graphics and printing programs achieve accreditation through PrintED.

Educator Rosemary Bitzel says, "PGAMA's partnership with MSDE has built a learning community of graphics communication instructors. They [PGAMA] are the major influence for ensuring teachers' curriculum is grounded in industry standards." According to Katharine Oliver, Assistant State Superintendent, Division of Career Technology and Adult Learning, MSDE, "The industry certification is really the key to making continuous improvement happen. PGAMA is a wonderful partner in helping achieve that goal."

PGAMA also supported the participation of a Calvert County high school student in the national SkillsUSA Graphic Communications competition, held June 20-24th in Kansas City. Student Jennifer Jones from Calvert Career & Technology Academy placed 13th in the event after winning the Maryland competition in March. Industry members volunteered their time, expertise, and equipment in the state contest, as well as during Jennifer's preparation before the Kansas City challenge. "SkillsUSA is a chance for industry to preview up-and-coming talent. It is not unusual for students preparing for regional and state competitions to be offered training assistance by industry members" said PGAMA Vice President Paul Foster. "Prior to this years state competition PGAMA member Millers Minuteman Press opened its doors to three students to give them time on equipment in preparation for the state SkillsUSA competition amounting to an extended, hands on interview! SkillsUSA presents a unique opportunity to link industry members directly to the talents produced by PrintED accredited programs."

In addition to supporting technical education and skills enhancement at the high school level, PGAMA also supports college-bound graphic communications students by awarding partial scholarships to students with industry-related majors. The scholarships are awarded through the Association's Education Fund, which was created in 1966 in part from a substantial donation by an Association member. Tax-deductible contributions from current members add to the balance, and earnings are invested in school and student activities related to graphic communications. This year, two students were selected to receive $1,000.00 each, to be used toward their first semester of a college graphic communications program. The students can receive additional monies for their second semester if they maintain a GPA of 3.5. This year's scholarship winners are both from PrintED accredited programs and were notified of their award in July: Jennifer Jones (Calvert County) and Jillian Porter (Carroll County).

Closing the loop in the workforce development process, PGAMA runs articles in member publications to follow-up on previous scholarship winners and graduates of PrintED accredited programs, highlighting the value of investing in the future workforce. This year two recipients of past scholarships were featured in the summer issue of the Association's quarterly magazine to connect the highly skilled graduates with employers. The full story can be read on PGAMA's website at http://pgama.com/?q=node/240.

 

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