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Staffing Issues & Insights for the Graphic Communications Industry.
Making Every Hire Count: Maximizing Your Human Capital Investment
Quality of Hire Begins With Sourcing: Pick Your Method to Suit Your Needs
Getting a grip on mission-critical "soft" skills: 5 simple steps
Forget Doing "More with Less" Older Workers Help Companies Accomplish "More with More"
For Expanding Your Value-Added Services Profitably, Hiring Is Rocket Science
Assessing job candidates beyond the technical skills
Employer Branding: The solution to attracting & keeping great staff
Successioning Your Business: Five Simple Steps that Aren't Exactly Easy
The 20-60-20 Rule: Simple Concept, Practical Applications, Profitable Results
Universal Employment Concerns: Creating Opportunity Out of Adversity
Hanging Flexible in Tough Times
Value-Driven Outsourcing
Downsizing: Don't Retreat - Motivate!
Navigating Today's Hiring Minefield: Who Is Available & Do You Really Want Them?
Today's Financial Storm Inspires Tomorrow's Long-Term Success
The case for HR: Why & how you should implement formal policies & procedures
Staffing for success in a soft market
The Challenge of Hiring Sales People
Workforce Optimization
Evolving Your Company into a Service-Oriented Business
Redefining Sales
Staffing for the Future of Print
Communicating With Employees From Start To Finish
Eight Steps to Prepare You for the Retirement Brain Drain
Job Hopping for the Right Reasons
Resumés are just the Tip of the Iceberg
How Some Hires Fail
Hire Like You Mean It
Concluding Your Hiring Workflow: Closing the Deal
A Hiring "To Do" List
Challenging Employee Excellence to Achieve Company Pre-eminence
Aim for the Top: Getting Value for Compensation Dollars
The Productivity Challenge
The Dynamics of Telephone Interviews
How People Enable "Enablers"
The People Side of Succession Planning
Tips for Effective Interviewing
Corporate Culture: What It Is, Who It's for, Why It Matters
What's In a Name?
Investment in Regulatory Managers is Money Well Returned
Flexibility in HR Management Reaps Rewards
People Drive Technology
Return on Experience
The Credible Resume
Leadership Delivers
Managing Employee Skills & Knowledge
Managing Employee Success
Profit by being a good employer
Achieve Employee Excellence with Effective Job Descriptions
Maximize your Human Capital Investment
Demystifying Job Descriptions
Benefits of Outsourcing
Surviving The Management Paradigm Shift
Invest in the Best


Staffing for the Future of Print

Our February 2008 article for WhatTheythink highlighted eight steps to help printing companies effect a successful transition in the pending retirement boom. Now the present article pushes this prospect even further by encouraging employers to think seriously about our industry’s future personnel requirements--not just in the next year or two but into the coming decade. While PrintLink doesn’t pretend to have a crystal ball, our 15+ years’ experience as industry-specific staffing specialists gives us the uncommon expertise to envision what your labor force might look like as we near 2010—and beyond

Background forces propelling change

Our projections for the industry’s personnel are based on many factors and forces, among them the recent observations of Niall Power, President of the Printing Industries of Wisconsin. After studying the various factors impacting the printing industry, Power has pinpointed globalization as one of the major forces currently affecting not just printing but all manufacturing.

Power defines ‘globalization’ using the Carnegie Endowment’s definition: “a process of interaction and integration among the people, companies and governments of different nations, a process driven by international trade and investment and aided by information technology. This process has effects on the environment, on culture, on political systems, on economic development and prosperity, and on human physical well being in societies around the world.” We especially like this definition because it points out the reality that, because globalization affects everything, no company is exempted from playing on the global stage.
Power envisions that the trend toward globalization will alter our future labor force and job requirements in several ways. For one, since productivity and worker efficiency are critical in the global economy, he concludes that the workplace will require more well-educated workers, as well as more intensive vocational and on-the-job training. He further predicts that the labor force of the future will need to be:
  • more flexible
  • strategically allocated, and
  • driven by compensation based on incentives.
Additionally, Power suggests that the 10 jobs that will be in greatest demand in 2010 didn’t even exist in 2004. Indeed, the effects we are now witnessing because of the continuing impact of technology and changing dynamics of our labor force serve to corroborate the accuracy of this observation. In practical terms, it means we are currently preparing students for jobs that don’t exit yet, using technologies that haven’t been invented yet, to solve problems we don’t even know are problems yet! And given such pending technological and labor shifts, PrintLink suggests that company owners and managers should seriously consider the practical implications in store.

Other socially driven forces that will continue to impact our industry significantly include:
  • Forest sustainability in resource utilization
  • Socially responsible forestry
  • Reduction of each company’s carbon footprint
  • Workplace health and safety
Together with global competition and productivity, we believe these factors are the key issues that form the printing industry’s central profit challenges now and into the future.

Future employment picture

In general, PrintLink believes that printing’s future employment picture is bright, since the printing industry has always understood and responded to the need for change. And because we are the vehicle that disseminates information (although historically the deliverable has been known by many different monikers), we will continue to be a necessary and vital industry. As we progress into the millennium, our resiliency will continue to hold us in good stead.

Smaller, more productive workforce

Where productivity is concerned, over the past decade, economic conditions have served as one of the US’s strongest driving factors, spurring the nation to position itself as the world leader for enhanced productivity. Although Canada still has some catching up to do, it has matched US productivity levels in the past, and will definitely do so again.

And what both countries’ continued striving for productivity means to the employment picture is fewer people doing more. Capital equipment and technology manufacturers are already furnishing the tools to facilitate the reduction of manpower, and job functionality is becoming more tightly defined in the workplace. Ultimately, we will see a redefined and realigned workforce requiring fewer people to replace those who are departing. Just several weeks ago, this trend was dramatically foretold in the United Kingdom, where News International opened the world’s biggest printing plant with state-of-the-art presses that can print newpapers more than twice as fast as their former operation could with just one-third the number of staff to run them.

Jobs & qualifications in highest demand

Already in the job marketplace we are seeing an emphasis on project management and planning. As we have discussed in past articles, the job function of Customer Service Representative, Job Planner, Production Co-Ordinator (or whatever other title is assigned to the position) has become one of printing’s key roles, overseeing each project from concept through to final invoicing.

A strong technical background is also emerging as an essential qualification for virtually all positions, along with the resiliency to learn new things. And the workplace itself will need to be equally resilient to ensure that its key contributors maintain the tools and training necessary for a successful and profitable outcome, regardless of whatever new technologies and job functions arise.

Other key contributors to the profit picture are the specialists who will continue to address the environmental, health, and safety issues that increasingly govern how print-related companies operate. Buyers of print are helping to drive the environmental initiative because their own customers are demanding that they rely on responsible service and product providers. Public environmental awareness and the push to reduce carbon emissions among the general populace will also continue to fuel the trend toward stricter environmental protection. Employee health and safety will also be subject to increasingly exacting regulations and penalties affecting new equipment installation, new premise occupancy, and ongoing audits to ensure compliance. Already the gatekeeper positions that manage all these different processes are emerging as permanent full-time roles, and we expect their prominence to escalate.

Similarly, in the global economy, we expect that process-development-and-control and research-and-development positions will evolve into mainstays of all manufacturing environments. Printing companies will need drivers for these initiatives who possess both the appropriate experience and a foundation within the printing industry. Accordingly, companies will need to invest both in acquiring these people and in training them to enhance their expertise.

Hands-on positions are altering as well. Hands-on operating of equipment has turned from a craft into a science using tools that guarantee quality and repeatability. To operate these tools, companies need to hire skilled workers with the appropriate aptitude and provide them with the training to maintain maximum efficiency.

Above all, printing companies require able management to drive productivity as well as their social accountabilities. We expect the evolution that we are already witnessing of specialists who manage work into those who manage the people who do the work will be dramatic and continuing.

A redefined sales force

What about the salespeople who push all printers’ initiatives out to the marketplace? Are they a new breed as well? We say yes - since sales has become far more than a one-off, commodity-based project. It is now more aptly termed ‘business development’.

This redefinition is accompanied by a strategy and a plan with a strong manager to equip, staff and monitor it. It requires individual salespeople with the drive and creativity to take hold of a market, as well as the skills for collaborating with co-workers effectively to convert and develop customers. It also requires a dedicated production team whose support enables the sales force to build trust by delivering on their promises.

Invest in your company’s future

Even now, employers come to us all the time wanting staff with industry-based experience in the above positions. Sometimes such candidates don’t exist. And sometimes they do--but only because industry leaders have already nurtured them into being. Whatever your company’s future requirements, your investment in hiring excellent staff and in their progressive training and development will be money well returned by the year 2010 and beyond.
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