Training-to-Career Programs Match Projected Industry Growth
With today’s unprecedented innovation and projected growth in production printing, there's no better time to cultivate new talent to take the reins when today’s mature workforce moves on. And with nearly 36% of printing employees at or near retirement age, the time to fill the pipeline is now. Combining immersive education with hands-on experience is the number-one way to equip tomorrow’s print professionals with the tools they need to foster the growth and innovation ahead.
Print plays a critical and exciting role in the ongoing evolution of marketing and communications and is expected to continue to do so. Research shows the digital printing market is estimated to grow at a combined annual growth rate of 3.7% between 2021-2028 and garner $35.71 billion.
But there’s a problem. In an era when more candidates than ever should be lining up for work in the growing world of print, commercial and sign & graphics printers are struggling to find qualified employees, which directly impacts their productivity, growth potential and bottom line.
This challenge is due, in part, to the fact that prospective candidates raised in the digital age may not have exposure to opportunities in print or recognize its true value — even though the staying power of print is evident all around us. Today, we can print on more substrates than ever, from canvas to cars, and studies show that print results in higher rates of understanding, persuasiveness and attention than digital media, making it a valuable marketing communications tool.
With 421,417 people employed in the printing industry in the U.S. this year alone, printing is currently the third-ranked manufacturing industry by employment, research shows, and it is expected to grow largely thanks to the array of applications that can be produced. Add to this opportunity the fact that many high school graduates no longer see the value of a traditional four-year college degree after accounting for the financial burden and assumed debt, and the prospect of working in print becomes even more enticing.
Education and Training
As a commercial printer, the quest for employees with knowledge and experience in design software, printing and finishing technologies, media, materials and applications that can make an immediate impact on your production without the delay of onsite training, is a real challenge. But all education and training programs are not created equal.
While digital literacy and print theory courses taken over the course of a few days can be useful in learning core concepts and industry background, they don’t provide the hands-on experience required for students to hit the ground running on the shop floor upon graduation. After all, learning the concept of producing banners from behind a desk or computer is vastly different from the experience of printing on acrylic, cutting, installing grommets and more—the practical application of production that extends beyond simply understanding it in principle.
“At Bibb County School District, our goal is to provide innovative learning spaces for students to develop the critical thinking and life skills that position them for future success as contributors to an engaged community. Programs that provide our instructors with the tools, technology and support needed to give students the practical and technical skills they will need in the real world—making them career-ready from the moment of graduation—are incredibly valuable to our young adults and will make a major impact on the job market,” said Dr. Cassandra Washington, Executive Director, Career, Technical and Agricultural Education (CTAE) and CEO of Hutchings CCA, Bibb County School District, in Macon, Ga.
What’s the Solution?
There are many training programs that exist today and do an excellent job of certifying professionals with new skills. Ricoh Advanced Career Education (ACE) is the first full-scale program that certifies educators to prepare students for a career in the growing commercial print and sign & graphics fields using this type of firsthand approach. Combining education with real-world experience, Ricoh ACE fosters the professional skills to build a commercial print and sign & graphics workforce that is ready to work on the print floor from day one — taking students through the full production process from design to hands-on equipment training and culminating with business management. The five-semester course is economical, efficient, provides real-world experience and certifies students for career readiness upon graduation — all while meeting a growing, critical need in the printing industry today.
As you work to build the most knowledgeable and productive team possible, consider exploring graduates of these training-to-career programs to help ensure they understand the printing industry technologies and processes used today, as well as graphic design, specialty software, production automation, workflow best practices, industry trends and more. You may also want to recommend potential employees of your business explore this type of immersive education to fully prepare them for a career in print.