We can take steps to attract talent

Vacant positions affect productivity, customer satisfaction and profits. Here are some interesting hiring challenges in the industry:

  • Young people entering the industry prefer creative or marketing roles instead of traditional industry roles like customer service, operations, estimating or sales.
  • Many high schools with technical streams have eliminated printing programs, and only offer design courses.
  • Increasing competitive pricing pressure is reducing profit margins, and usually training budgets are the first ones to be cut when profits are low.
  • Skilled technical operators are reaching retirement and fewer people are being trained to replace them.
  • Industry apprenticeships and formal training programs and facilities are not available.
  • With warehousing and fulfillment operations growing rapidly in large urban centres due to the unprecedented increase in online sales, finding staff for these functions is increasingly difficult, and more expensive.

Measures to take

The issues highlighted above affect all companies, and we need to work together to address them. Here are some suggestions to put ‘words into actions’.

Challenge 1: Attract young people to industry

There is a perception that “print is dying”. People also assume it’s a heavy hardware industry.

Actions to take:

You can spread the message that printing is an exciting technology-driven industry. Associations must re-instate communication campaigns to promote industry as well as solicit support from industry and government.

Challenge 2: Skilled staff shortage

A majority of skilled print operators are in their 50s and 60s. Only few young staff members are developing the skills to replace these operators.

Actions to take:

  • Build succession plans for equipment operators and key operations staff.
  • Invest in ongoing internal training programs.
  • Cross train staff to ensure critical coverage.
  • If located in a small community with a limited talent pool, recruit future talent from larger centres with incentives focused on quality lifestyle instead of financial rewards.

Challenge 3: Replacing staff using internal resources

Many companies don’t have dedicated HR staff, and for those that do, recruitment is only one of their duties and responsibilities.

Actions to take:

Use recruitment channels that focus on the talent sought. This includes social media and recruitment job sites, and industry-specific recruiters. Many companies are struggling to attract skilled labour for printing operations.

Challenge 4: Training staff

While it will be easy to ask current operators to train staff, there will be concerns about the quality.

Actions to take:

  • Develop, document and implement formal processes for training programs.
  • Current team members may conduct the training, but they should be monitored by supervisors or HR

Challenge 5: Apprenticeship programs

As mentioned earlier, the lack of apprenticeship programs has reduced opportunities for technical training.

Actions to take:

  • Support community colleges that offer fundamental training programs.
  • Engage with program leaders; offer support with supplies, facility tours and engagement.

This is a great industry, and regardless of our position or role, each of us can do something to improve the status quo, and make more people aware of the opportunities in the printing world.


By Bob Dale and Heather Black
As seen in the PrintAction July/August 2021 issue