During a recent Coffee with Cheryl event, more than one person at the breakfast table complained about how hard it is to find good employees. And, during my interactions with other PIASC member companies, I’ve heard the same thing. The truth is, as experienced employees get older and move into retirement, the harder it’s going to be to find qualified employees.
Recently, I did a search on indeed.com and the results were eye-opening. The search showed 560 full-time printing jobs in the Los Angeles area. They range from office assistant to press operator to plant manager. Many of these are well paying entry-level jobs. The truth is, the industry is in need of qualified, technically literate individuals with knowledge of the printing and graphics industry.
Entry Level Jobs Have Changed
The entry-level jobs of today are different from those of the past. There was a time when a young person could walk into a printing company and start working sweeping floors or at the back end of a press.
Many entry-level jobs at a web shop included removing the printed materials off the press and stacking them onto a palette. Then once the palette was full they’d wrap it tightly and use a pallet jack to move it and place it on a truck for delivery. Today, there are robots that do that work.
Today’s entry-level jobs require more knowledge of prepress, press, or bindery techniques. And young people of today have an opportunity to train for those positions in as little as 18 months.
A College Education in 12-18 Months
I’ve spoken before about the need for a college education. Young people today can train for a position in the printing industry with classes offered at Riverside City College (RCC) Pasadena City College (PCC) and Fullerton College (FC). College education at these schools can include a Certificate Program that will provide a well-rounded printing education. Some options include classes in prepress, press operation, color management, screen-printing, and management and estimating.
Depending on the goals of the student, they can add General Education classes to their printing and graphics classes to earn an Associate of Science Degree.
If the student wishes to continue their education, it’s important that the General Education courses they choose are transferable to the California State University or University of California systems.
Let’s take a minute a see the potential for individuals who choose to earn a certificate at any of the community colleges in Southern California.
- Let’s start with a student taking screen-printing classes at PCC. indeed.com has screen-printing positions available in Huntington Beach, Downtown Los Angeles, and Paramount, California. These jobs pay $14 to $20 an hour.
- If a student at RCC earned a Basic Electronic Prepress Certificate they may qualify for Prepress jobs in Glendale, Norwalk, or Bellflower, California. These jobs also pay $14 to $20 an hour. And, with a few years of experience, a prepress operator can make $70,000 to $85,000 a year.
- A student who completes 11 units in the required courses at Fullerton College can earn a Flexography Certificate. indeed.com has jobs for flexo press operators in Rancho Dominguez, Santa Ana, and Orange, California. These jobs as listed are paying from $35,000 to $65,000 a year.
Of course, a student straight out of college cannot expect to be paid the same as an experienced technician or operator but the potential is there.
There are numerous companies in Southern California with hundreds of jobs available. As the industry becomes more diverse and moves into digital, variable data, and online marketing how can we connect high school and college students with quality educational institutions like RCC, PCC, FC and the printing industry?
And this is just the beginning. There are numerous employment opportunities for students who earn a Bachelor or Masters Degree at Cal Poly SLO, Cal Poly Pomona, ASU or RIT.
The potential employees are out there.
The careers are out there.
How can we, as an industry, connect the two?
I’d be interested in hearing your suggestions.
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