I came across a very interesting article on Print Buyers International a few days ago about staffing in our industry, or more specifically, print buying. While I totally agree with author Margie Dana’s statement that we need to have “seasoned” employees who know the equipment lists of our manufacturing partners, they in no means have to be “older”! The argument is that the “older,” more “seasoned” print buyers are in a better position to handle the complex specifications of any print project. But can’t you replace the seasoning with education?
Of course, some may say that I am biased, I’m an outlier. I grew up in the industry; I’m a fourth-generation “printer.” I’m cursed, right? No, I love what I do! And today it’s even better than it ever was. The injection of technology into this industry has made the impossible possible. I would argue that what I see as a normal print job would be a near impossibility to the “seasoned veteran.” Do I learn things every day from the “seasoned” employees whom I work with? Yes, of course! But, they also learn from the younger, more technologically inclined staff as well. The perfect answer is not new or old; it’s having a healthy mix of the two.
There are more people out there like me––people who grew up in the industry––but there are a whole lot more who are looking for work and can be taught. Why not hire the college grads who majored in marketing and teach them the down and dirty of printing? You may just learn something from them! Set up a training program at your organization to educate your staff. Have the seasoned employees teach print and the newer ones technology. Better yet, look into universities that still offer majors with a print background. I guarantee they don’t have a Print Management major anymore. But they have very intriguing majors like these: Communication and Media Technologies, Media Arts and Technology, and New Media Marketing. Click on those links in the previous sentence to see the curriculum––it almost makes me want to go back to college just to learn!
So what’s the point? The point is that when the industry is changing so rapidly, we can’t staff ourselves out of the market by keeping only seasoned employees. Nor can we hire only young college grads to service our most important clients. With such a diverse market, we will need a diverse staff. Keep the wisdom while encouraging the youth––together they are both our future.
What are your sources for new hires?
Author: T. John Mehl