With so many things being done electronically and online, it can seem
that digital is the future while print is the past. But there are still opportunities
in the printing industry if you can adapt to changing technologies.
"People say, 'Why go into print? Print's dead. Print's not going to survive,'"
says Marie Eveline. She is the executive director of a printing industry council.
"Well, that's not the case whatsoever. It's an essential component of an integrated
marketing and communications strategy."
For example, the continuing growth in the packaging part of the industry
means opportunities for printers.
"Packaging is what actually draws a person to a product and packaging that
stands out gives a marketer an edge," Eveline says. "So there's a lot of interest
in having very innovative packaging and design on packaging -- it's a very
creative growth area."
Harvey Levenson agrees. He's head of the graphic communication department
at California Polytechnic State University (Cal Poly).
Levenson says there are many opportunities in packaging.
"We identify about 36 different industry segments," says Levenson. "Of
all the segments associated with the printing industry, packaging is really
the only one that has not been negatively impacted by the Internet...so we
see a lot of growth and interest in that particular area.
"Another area of growth is printable electronics," says Levenson. (This
refers to printed batteries that can be implanted in print. It allows print
to be interactive.)
"We're going to see a tremendous amount of growth in this area, and the
way printable electronics is going to be applied to printed output is going
to somewhat revolutionize how print is used in the future," says Levenson.
Cal Poly is developing a master's degree in this area.
"The idea is to be able to get batteries printed and included on printed
documents at a price that's less than five cents a battery, and that's going
to happen," says Levenson. "And that's going to change the whole landscape
associated with how print can be made interactive."
Printable electronics is just one area of opportunity in the rapidly evolving
printing industry. Change always brings opportunity.
"Even with the economic downturn, even with the sort of reduction in the
overall number we'll need because of technology, we're still going to need
significant numbers of individuals to come into our industry," says Eveline.
Despite the challenges, the printing industry is still huge and employs
many people. And technological changes mean that those employees
increasingly need a new set of skills.
"Technology has had an impact on both the nature of the job and the skill
sets required in all three process areas within the printing and graphic communications
industry â€“ pre press, press and finishing/bindery," says Eveline.
"We're a manufacturing industry, but we're also transitioning to a service
industry, so a lot of printing companies are offering a whole wide range of
services now -- from design to actual printing to distribution," says Eveline.
"As a result, the types of jobs that are available in the industry are quite
Colleges and universities across North America offer certificate, diploma
and degree programs in all aspects of the printing process.
"Generally, for lots of positions you're looking at a college certificate
or diploma. But since most of the training within the industry still takes
place on the shop floor, there is definitely room for employees to gain the
required skills that way," says Eveline. "It depends on the process area."
A number of universities offer programs in graphic communications management.
"In recruiting new people to the industry, we're trying to recruit people
who are comfortable with technology, but also see the importance of a whole
integrated approach to what printing provides," says Eveline.
"We need people who understand the whole print process and can move into
management positions. There are a lot of career opportunities, although technology
has probably resulted in fewer workers in our industry.
"In addition to the challenges caused by technological changes, we are
also, like other industries, facing demographic challenges," Eveline adds.
"There are definitely opportunities in the industry for people who want to
work in a technology-based industry, given the fact that we're going to have
significant retirements occurring over the next five to 10 years."
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