New Workforce Coalition to addresses print industry recruitment

John Berthelsen.

A group of concerned associations, educators and industry representatives has formed the Graphic Communications Workforce Coalition. As stated in its organizing documents, “The purpose of the coalition will be to coordinate the efforts of all organizations representing the broad scope of the graphic communications industry for creating awareness, recruitment of new people into the industry, providing a framework for apprenticeship and training programs, and the retention of the existing workforce. By combining the separate efforts, experiences and initiatives of various organizations, coordinating actions and the sharing of ideas and resources, it’s expected that all will benefit.”

This important new initiative, led by John Berthelsen (former President of Suttle-Straus, a commercial printer and marketing specialist located in Waunakee, Wisconsin), will address the number one issue that faces our industry today – the recruitment, retention and training of its workforce. After leading the company for 35 years, he retired at the end of 2014 and now works out of Las Vegas, Nevada for the Print and Graphics Scholarship Foundation (Warrendale, Pennsylvania) to promote the industry and support post-secondary education. In the upcoming school year, the Foundation will provide more than 200 students with $500,000 (USD) in scholarships!

Numerous studies and surveys have documented that recruitment is a major concern for nearly every company in the print and graphic communications industry in Canada, the U.S. and beyond. In the United States, various associations and individual companies have taken steps to address this issue, but there has never been an organized joint effort – until now. The Coalition will seek to bring together and focus its efforts and energy for the mutual benefit of everyone in this amazing industry. Membership is open to interested parties representing a broad spectrum of the graphic communications industry. This includes other associations, vendors, educational institutions and all areas of print and graphic communications service providers. Those interested in participating are encouraged to use this link to join the group. Currently, there’s no cost to join, only the desire to participate and make our industry better. The Coalition will be forming a board of directors and electing officers at the end of June. While some 24 organizations are already involved, more are welcomed. If you’re interested in being a part of this industry-wide effort, or to answer any questions you might have about the Coalition, please contact John Berthelsen at

(EDITOR’S NOTE: 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 has been donated as a result of the generosity of firms and individuals associated with the printing industry in Canada. 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 or to donate, please visit Finally, it’s so gratifying to see these efforts gain momentum on both sides of the border. Their organizers and leaders obviously have never lost their passion for print – and they deserve our admiration).


Tony Curcio is the editor of Graphic Arts Magazine.