I recently saw information about career recruiting from PGSF (Print and Graphic Scholarship Foundation) and it got me thinking. PGSF does a great job of finding ways to attract young people who are going to college (I was one of those kiddos MANY years ago), but what about finding ways to attract the “blue-collar” workers who are the backbone of the industry.
In the four state region which I’m familiar (Oklahoma, Kansas, Texas, and Missouri), there are approximately 70 schools teaching graphics or print. The vast majority are high school programs (there are only four institutions offering a four-year degree). The high school programs have limited resources and frequently are heavily focused on graphic design and job shop print production. Thus, anyone looking for skilled technicians needs to understand that those schools don’t exist (and probably never did). Yet, the students who are attending these programs are highly interested in print and graphics – and that’s a good thing.
The reality of finding new faces for the industry is that it’s going to take a grassroots effort and looking beyond the existing programs. PGSF has plenty of material, as do many of the regional PIA Affiliates, but that material has to be placed in the hands of schools and administrators. Those “gatekeepers” have to be sold on the concept that there are career paths available in our industry, and that doesn’t get accomplished with a poster or brochure, especially when they know that print is dead and everyone must have a four-year degree to succeed.
So, how does one go about recruiting? How about finding a local connection with any local high school or community college? Find ways to be involved with advisory committees. Donate print projects and materials (everyone is always looking for paper). Provide plant tours to administrators and counsellors. Volunteer (or have someone on your team) to provide career talks. Hire interns. Hire part-time workers. We have to remember that we are competing with colleges, other industries (all which are high-tech) and the desires of the student’s parents. It takes a bit of commitment for the long haul, but how can you grow a future crop without a bit of work and nurturing?