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Latest drupa Essentials Article Tackles Challenge of Attracting Talent to the Printing Industry

Press release from the issuing company

The article notes that the issue of recruitment and attractiveness of the industry is closely linked to the image of graphic arts professions. It offers observations of the current situation and discusses the role of both AI and human resources in building a better future.

WhatTheyThink, the leading global media organization serving the printing and publishing industries, continues its series promoting drupa Essentials articles to both educate members and encourage attendance at drupa, the world’s largest printing trade show scheduled for May 28 to June 7, 2024, in Düsseldorf, Germany. In this edition, we summarize drupa Essentials Article 9: Attracting New Talent -- Human Resources and Artificial Intelligence opportunities.

The author, Rémy Touguay – Graphics Industry Teacher, Trainer and Software R&D Director, discussing the fact that AI is likely to be a hot topic at drupa 2024, notes, “It is essential to remember that human intelligence will [also] be needed to manage printing operations, whether it's in the upstream design phase, during production, or for the management and maintenance of production tools.”

He makes three observations about the industry’s current state in terms of recruitment issues:

  1. A significant change in mindset has occurred over the past twenty years: previously, the majority of printers' children pursued studies that allowed them to continue in the same path as their parents. ... Generally, today's printers no longer extol the virtues of their profession to their families. Profit margins have significantly declined since the 2000s, making profitability challenging.
  2. The younger generation, Generation Z, has a different vision of the world and work today. Many companies have not yet taken this change in perception into account. To make jobs attractive, companies need to revise their management style, integration methods, and attraction of new employees by adapting to their new demands.
  3. Are the programs offering education in the graphic industries still suitable? Are they adapting to the rapid evolutions in the sector, the jobs of tomorrow (training of trainers and teachers in schools, institutes, universities), the behavioral changes of the new generations (use of digital tools, time management, schedules, etc.), and finally, the question that now emerges clearly: the integration of new Artificial Intelligence tools made available to the general public for the acquisition of necessary knowledge and skills?

The full article can be found here, together with the previous eight articles.

Touguay makes some good observations on these topics. But we have also found more positive trends among our members and partner graphic arts educational programs. Two examples include:

  • A recent conversation with the owner of the Alphagraphics center in Wood Dale IL, Jeff Bittner. Especially during Covid, he had difficulty recruiting talent, but more recently explained that he has made three new hires, all in their early 20’s, who have made exponential contributions to his operation. He stated how impressed he was with their work ethic, dedication to customer excellence, and out-of-the-box thinking about their work. We believe this is not a standalone occurrence, and perhaps Gen Z is getting a bit of an undeserved bad rap.
  • In another example, has teamed up with Cal Poly’s Graphic Communication Department to help underwrite the cost of sending six Cal Poly students to drupa. The Department had started a crowdfunding campaign to fund this trip, and WhatTheyThink chipped in to help fund the program, but also is providing an opportunity to work in a real-world production and publishing environment while also experiencing drupa.

He adds, “Having participated in this event multiple times as both a visitor and an exhibitor, I know that a trip to Düsseldorf is also a fantastic opportunity for young people in training and employees of companies to gain firsthand insight into the state of the graphic arts industry today. It will be a great way to envision the future careers in the sector and, consequently, think about implementing training frameworks to acquire skills in line with the needs of the printed and multimedia graphic communication industry.” This is exactly the reason WhatTheyThink and Cal Poly are sending students to the event!

In discussing student participation in the jointly developed program, Colleen Twomey, Professor and Graphic Communication Department Chair at Cal Poly, stated, “The opportunity that WhatTheyThink is providing by having our students work at the show - producing material that will be published, and doing video interviews - is very similar to how we approach our curriculum; Learn by Doing!” The collaboration is a positive example of how our graphic arts institutions can partner with industry players to level up their programs, making them more relevant.

WhatTheyThink President Eric Vessels added, “If you really believe in supporting the next generation of graphic communications professionals, we hope our sponsoring of this project will inspire you to do the same! We are bullish about the contributions graphic arts programs like Cal Poly’s are making to the industry, and their ability to deliver the kind of education that is required in today’s dynamic and competitive marketplace. We are pleased to be able to play a role in helping students gain meaningful experiences that will serve them well as they pursue careers in graphic arts.”

Have you made your drupa plans yet? The time is now. Lodgings are filling up, as are flights, as the industry heads to Dusseldorf for drupa 2024. We hope to see you there; and if you are going, please contact us if you would like to visit with our experts, meet the students, and/or be interviewed about your drupa experience!

For more information, visit https://whattheythink.com/drupa. For information about sponsorship opportunities before and during the event, view our drupa Opportunities webinar here.

About WhatTheyThink

WhatTheyThink is the global printing industry's go-to information source with both print and digital offerings, including WhatTheyThink.com, WhatTheyThink Email Newsletters, and the WhatTheyThink magazine. Our mission is to inform, educate, and inspire the industry. We provide cogent news and analysis about trends, technologies, operations, and events in all the markets that comprise today's printing and sign industries including commercial, in-plant, mailing, finishing, sign, display, textile, industrial, finishing, labels, packaging, marketing technology, software and workflow.

About drupa

As the world’s leading trade fair for printing technologies, drupa stands for inspiration, innovation, top-class knowledge transfer and intensive networking. With the motto “we create the future”, drupa will serve as the global meeting point, presenting the visions of the print and packaging industries along the entire value chain. The 2024 edition will specifically focus on the mega trends sustainability and digitalization, in addition to many more relevant trends in an inspiring setting. The exhibits will be complemented by an extensive ancillary program and five special forums: the drupa cube, drupa next age (dna) as well as touchpoints packaging, textile and sustainability.


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