New workforce coalition will address recruitment

A group of concerned associations, educators and industry reps has formed the Graphic Communications Workforce Coalition. Its purpose is to coordinate the efforts of all organizations representing the printing and graphic communications industries to create awareness, recruit new talent, and provide a framework for apprenticeship and training programs – in addition to retaining our existing workforce. By combining the separate initiatives of various organizations and companies, coordinating their actions, and sharing ideas and resources, it’s expected that everyone in our industry will benefit.

I spoke to 50-year printing veteran John Berthelsen, who leads this important new initiative. He’s the former president of commercial printer Suttle-Straus (Waunakee, WI). After leading the company for 35 years, he retired at the end of 2014 and now works out of Las Vegas for the US Print and Graphics Scholarship Foundation (Warrendale, PA) that supports post-secondary education. Obviously his passion for print has never waned. In the upcoming school year, the foundation will provide more than 200 students with $500,000 (USD) in scholarships.

In the USA, various associations and companies have taken steps to address this issue, but there’s never been an organized joint effort – until now! Those interested in participating are encouraged to visit https://app.donorview.com/kwMW to join the group. Currently, there’s no cost to join, only the desire to participate and make our industry better. About 24 organizations already have. For more information contact John at jberthelsen@printing.org or phone 1-608-575-3904.

Here in Canada we have the unheralded (in my opinion) CPISTF (Canadian Printing Industries Scholarship Trust Fund) that was initiated by the Canadian Printing Industries Association in 1971. Since then, hundreds of thousands of dollars have been donated as a result of the generosity of firms and individuals associated with the printing industry here. The fund’s objective is to attract the most talented young people by providing financial assistance to them while they’re enrolled in a graphic arts management or technical program. For more information please visit printscholarships.ca. Finally, it’s so gratifying to see these efforts gain momentum on both sides of the border. Their organizers and leaders deserve our admiration.

Until next time, always remember that we’re here to help.

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Tony Curcio is the editor of Graphic Arts Magazine.