Industry organizations lead the way

In 2011, the Canadian Printing Industries Association (CPIA) and Industry Canada collaborated on an important industry report – The State of the Canadian Printing Industry Study. Some 105 Canadian printers from across the country were interviewed. Its objectives, according to CPIA President Bob Elliott, were to:

1. Determine to what degree Canadian printing firms are adopting new value-added business strategies and technological innovations.

2. Investigate the mitigation of market risks and the creation of opportunities.

3. Identify trends.

4. Compare data with the U.S. market.

On Wednesday, March 28 at Ryerson University’s Oakham House in Toronto, Elliott presented a synopsis of the report to selected industry people and the trade media, and distributed a complimentary copy of the full report. Here are some of the findings:

• 51% of respondents classified themselves as “general commercial printers”

• 14% classified themselves as “quick printers”

• Median of employees at each respondent was 12 in 2011 and 14 in 2005

• Sheetfed printing made up 43.5% of sales in 2006 and 36.4% in 2011

• Digital printing (toner-based) made up 16.4% of sales in 2006 and 22% in 2011

• Canadian printers offer a broad range of ancillary services including:

– Professional creative design (51%)

– Mailing management (41%)

– Kit fulfillment (31%)

– Logistics management (19%)

• 60% of respondents invested in digital technologies in 2009-2010

• 45% invested in prepress technologies in 2009-2010

• 31% invested in binding and finishing technologies

• 16% invested in sheetfed technologies

• 2% invested in web-offset technologies

• 57% do not plan to invest in any technologies in the next two years

• 91% do not plan to invest in any sheetfed press technology in the next two years

• 95% do not plan to invest in any web-based press technology in the next two years

• 29% of Canadian and American printers plan to invest in adding new equipment in the next two years

• 16% of each also plan to invest in sales force development

• Sales increased by 4.4% from 2009 to 2010 while they increased 9.3% from 2005 to 2006

• Printing prices decreased 1.4% from January 2010 to January 2011

• Wages and salaries increased 2.9% from 2009 to 2010

• Paper prices increased 3.5% from 2009 to 2010

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CPISC and CPIA to create single national industry voice

Discussions are underway between the Canadian Printing Industries Sector Council (CPISC) and the Canadian Printing Industries Association (CPIA) to create a single, new organization to deliver services addressing priorities within Canada’s printing and graphic communications industry.

“Canada’s printing industry has gone through a technological revolution that has changed almost every aspect of the business,” says Sandy Stephens, Chairman of the Board of CPIA. “The kind of support that industry players need – in human-resource development, information, marketing, advocacy to government and training – is markedly different than it was a decade ago. This is the perfect time to explore the creation of a single agency that can offer leadership, support and networking opportunities beyond those that exist today.”

The new organization would replace Canada’s current printers’ association (CPIA) and sector council (CPISC), and unify services for members under a single banner. The complementary strengths of the two organizations (CPIA’s membership services, information, advocacy, access to Printing Industries of America services and networking, and CPISC’s industry knowledge, labour-market intelligence, training development, standards and certification expertise) are considered an ideal mix.

“Our intent,” says Jeff Ekstein, Co-Chair of CPISC, “is to make sure that printing and graphics communications companies have resources and services that help them sustain profitable growth, and that all employees of this dynamic sector have the training they need to stay current, mobile and valuable to their employers.”

“The discussions will allow for the creation of a single, visible, innovative, credible face of an industry that itself offers critical services and employment across Canada,” says Duncan Brown, Co-Chair of CPISC. “Our truly national industry will have one truly national organization to represent it.”

Both organizations are reaching out to the industry to get feedback on which services and activities would be most valuable. This input will be used to help define the direction of a new organization – and ensure that every activity it undertakes and every service it offers is relevant, focused and practical.

CPISC resources still helping Canadian printers

Two of the most helpful resources available on CPISC’s website ( are its Skills at Work program and its HR Toolkit. Skills at Work is a suite of five tools to help the industry implement national Skill Standards in the workplace. The tools strive to ensure that the printing and graphic communications sector has skilled workers with easily transferable skills.

Developed with industry stakeholders, the guides and tools enable employers and employees to use the Skill Standards on the job to assess skills, identify gaps and ultimately develop an on-the-job training strategy. The suite includes:

• Growing Your Company’s Talent – a guide for employers that introduces the concept of Skill Standards and sets out the ideal process for using CPISC’s Skill Standards to assess skill sets, identify gaps and establish a plan to fill them.

• Building Your Skills – a companion guide for employees that introduces the concept of Skill Standards, the many benefits of qualifying to the standards, and the process to assess skill sets, identify gaps and establish a plan to fill them.

• Skills Assessment Checklist – the national Skill Standards with a rating scale for use by supervisors to assess employees’ levels of competence and by employees to conduct self-assessments. There is a checklist for each occupation for which the national Skill Standards were created.

• Pass It On – a guide to implement company-wide on-the-job training. It helps facilitate the transfer of knowledge from peer to peer and describes methods and best practices by which experienced, highly skilled supervisors and co-workers can serve as trainers to individual employees.

• Training Tracker – enables both employers and employees to record ongoing in-house training and skills development. A Training Tracker is available for each occupation for which the Skill Standards have been developed.

CPISC’s HR Toolkit addresses the HR issues that affect small and medium-sized printing shops in Canada. It is essentially a virtual HR department full of information and highly adaptable templates. In fact, over 100 tools and templates can help shops easily integrate modern HR management practices. The kit focuses on five areas:

• Skilled Staff – recruiting, hiring, training, coaching and mentoring

• Setting Goals – managing performance, giving rewards and recognition, managing change

• Positive Workplaces – recruitment and retention, communication, managing differences and resolving problems

• Health & Safety – reducing risks, meeting requirements, managing absenteeism

• Planning & Organizing – how to align HR to the business, organizing roles, planning for the future

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Tony Curcio is the editor of Graphic Arts Magazine.