Education and training 101

As our economy is more dependent than ever upon intellectual capital (versus physical buildings or machines), the role of continuous education and training is all the more relevant and necessary to succeed in today’s business world.

In speaking with Scott Millward, instructor at the School of Graphic Communications Management at Ryerson University, he shares a similar view that continuous education plays an integral role in today’s marketplace.

“Technology and research in the graphic communications industry is constantly changing and growing, making continuous education in the latest trends and theories a must. Formal academic education provides learners groundwork in theory and practice for a wide range of relevant, cutting edge topics in the business and technology of the industry. Training programs developed by industry leaders and organizations offer a place to specialize and gain a deeper understanding of a specific area of interest.”

Scott also sees the value in training outside of the classroom. “Vendor training presents the opportunity for specific knowledge in operation and use of a product or technology.”

There is no one-scenario-fits-all training solution, and it is often a broad spectrum of educational outlets that helps promote learning. Training doesn’t have to be formal and expensive. The following options provide perspective on the diverse opportunities for continuous education, and they will hopefully provide you with inspiration to learn something new!

  • Viewing free online videos on YouTube
  • Following relevant blogs of industry professionals and corporations
  • Joining related networks and participating in discussion boards on websites like
  • Gathering online professional resources from organizations like the Printing Industries of America (
  • Subscribing to industry-related magazines
  • Attending webinars, like those available from PaperSpecs (
  • Participating in public workshops for entrepreneurs (Ex: Mars & PodCamp Toronto)
  • Attending industry conferences and trade shows (Ex: Print World & Graph Expo)
  • Attending topical seminars (such as those offered by Adobe Systems Incorporated)
  • Participating in customized, one-on-one training with suppliers, that may include using training simulation software
  • Joining relevant associations
  • Participating in hands on training, like courses available at the Heidelberg Print Media Academy (
  • Enrolling in continuing education courses (Ex: Ryerson University)
  • Achieving advanced degrees, such as a Masters in Print Media from Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT)

Participating in continuing education courses is more feasible than ever before. Educational institutions understand the time constraints in the lives of busy professionals, but at the same time, understand the value in offering continuing education courses. As a result, many courses are offered online and can be completed within the comfort and flexibility of your own schedule. This also opens up the opportunity to participate at a distance, whether national or international, making it all that much easier to find a course that is the perfect fit for your needs.


A unique example of an on-the-job training program is with Gannett Co. Inc., a media and marketing solutions company. The company owns printing facilities and print Rochester, New York’s Democrat & Chronicle (D&C), among many other publications. Gannett’s print training program is so unique because it maintained a small training press that mimicked its full-web newspaper presses. Printers would participate in extensive training on the smaller press before moving up to the “big leagues” on the large production presses. This training program is no longer available due to the expensive up-keep of the program, but this demonstrates the type of comprehensive and practical training programs that exist within our industry.

10 Printing Associations in North America (in non-specific order)

  1. The Technical Assocation of the Graphic Arts (TAGA)
  2. The Flexographic Technical Association (FTA)
  3. International Association of Printing House Craftsmen (IAPHC)
  4. Ontario Printing and Imaging Association (OPIA)
  5. Canadian Printing Ink Manufactures’ Association (CPIMA)
  6. Canadian Printing Industries Association (CPIA)
  7. Printing Industries of America (PIA – formerly PIA/GATF)
  8. The National Association for Printing Leadership (NAPL)
  9. The Association for Suppliers of Printing, Publishing and Converting Technologies (NPES)
  10. International Prepress Association (IPA) and IDEAlliance


Diana Varma is an Instructor at the School of Graphic Communications Management at Ryerson University and the Owner of ON-SITE First Aid & CPR Training Group, a health & safety company that provides training to the Graphic Arts Industry.