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Thursday, 16 August 2007
By Print 21 Online Article

Dear Editor,

RE:
Printing Industries launches Skills Shortages Project

I recently attended the CEO’s Forum on the skills shortage, addressed passionately and with conviction by the Minister, Dr Sharman Stone, MP. The debate included various strategies on attracting and retaining older employees, which I believe is a topic currently exercising our minds. Unfortunately, subsequent workshops on the subject have been cancelled due to a lack of interest.

This is a pity as it’s an issue endemic to us all – with no quick-fix solutions. One would have thought however, that the impetus of self-preservation would be a good incentive to attend! It’s an issue I face all the time – clients ring up and say they need a “such-and-such” – and they’ll consider all possibilities … but, the applicant –

  • Must have been in the industry for “x” number of years,
  • They must have specific skills,
  • They must be of a certain age group, and
  • They must not have “moved around” too much, and, if they’re a sales rep
  • They must bring a million $’s of clients with them

    thereby excluding vast chunks of the available candidature!

    I observe that the digital segment is not quite so hung-up on these pre-conditions as our offset brethren. The digital brigade represents the “new rich” – they don’t care what “school” you went to, or that you might be (too?) young, or that you may have had a variety of jobs in your youth . They’re not hung up on the fact that you aren’t “trade qualified” – they only care about one thing: can you do the job?

    I am seeing this stark demarcation between the two “worlds” of offset v digital extending far beyond a difference in technology. It’s a difference in mind-set that goes to the heart of why we’re struggling to find suitable candidates. We ignore large portions of the available talent pool because they don’t conform to our old, craft-based way of thinking.

  • Why can’t a rep who’s sold financial or corporate services make a successful print rep?
  • Why can’t your keen young, articulate receptionist make a wonderful customer service rep?
  • Why can’t your switched-on young printer become your production scheduler? (he’s familiar with Nintendo games – so he ought to be able to manage your workflow software).

    Based on my observations of the many high-quality candidates I meet who are unfulfilled or un-recognised where they are, there is a strong case that there isn’t a shortage of candidates, so much as a shortage of imagination – in recognising and re-deploying (and re-training … sorry, but that’s part of our role as managers) – our existing staff.

    Employees seek variety, and bosses prefer specialisation. I appreciate the problem, but desperate times require desperate action. Right now we don’t have the luxury of specifying that the candidate must be 34 years of age, have a mortgage, and has been in the industry (at least) “x” number of years. The emphasis should now be on –

  • What are the intrinsic “qualities” of the person? (rather than their trade background),
  • Have they succeeded in other areas? (if so, they’ll probably do so again), and
  • Do they demonstrate the right attitude? (ie, enthusiasm, ability to adapt, desire to advance, etc).

    If so, you should grab them – and, add a little training to the mix. That way you won’t have to wait months for the dream-machine – that never comes along.

    So before we complain of a “skills shortage” – ask ourselves the following questions –

  • Are we considering older, more mature applicants?
  • Are we promoting “from within”? – the talent could be already on your payroll,
  • Are we considering applicants from other industries? – that may bring much needed diversity,

  • Are we considering women for more roles? – including more flexible employment terms?
  • Are we providing training as part of the “attraction/retention” package?

    The PIA has recently added training courses to help alleviate this problem, as well as hiring a consultant to assist if there is a genuine need to source labour from overseas.

    Hiring is always a risky and costly process at the best of times, with no guarantee of success. Unfortunately, printing now finds itself competing in the broader market-place for talent. In so doing we must look outside the traditional boundaries that have protected our industry for so long. The talent is out there, lurking in unsuspected corners – older workers, women, people from other industries (they may teach us something) – we simply need to recognise it, and double our chances.

    Regards,

    James Cryer

    JDA Print Recruitment

    Dear Editor,

    I guess I am being hypercritical as I am sending this message by email and I
    enjoy receiving Print 21 by email.

    However, I am finding many of the financial institutions are strongly
    promoting electronic communication rather than print. As an example I have
    an investment with Colonial First State who’s CEO Brian Bissaker wrote
    saying “Become a paper-free investor and help raise money for conservation”.
    Offering to donate $2 to Planet Ark for every investor who chooses paper
    free investing. That is once you have filled out all their forms and made
    your investment all reporting and information is obtained through the
    internet.

    Their letter has a side column saying “Say no to snail mail”
    and “Did you know” each year the paper we use to print your communications
    results in:

  • Thousands of trees being harvested
  • Tonnes of greenhouse gas being emitted from the energy used
  • Millions of litres of eater being used
  • Tonnes of paper being used
    These are some of the impacts and doesn’t include the chemicals used, the
    printing and postal effects.

    It seems to me, in the last statement, they want to do away with printers
    and postmen!!

    Anyway, thanks again for Print 21, it has no rival, which I hope your
    advertisers appreciate.

    Regards

    Bill Kemp

    Thanks for your kind words – Ed

    Dear Editor,

    RE: Quark interactive tours kick off with a bang

    50 people indeed. I presented at the Sydney and Melbourne Adobe CS3 launches, and combined there must have been over 2000 people in attendance.

    Sadly, those of us who traversed the rocky corporate-centric life cycle of Quark vs Fresh Air, remember only too well how unfriendly the page layout giant used to be. It’s good to see they have turned the corner on the PR front, but alas, Adobe is so far out in front that it can’t be seen for dust.

    Many of the new features in Quark have been in InDesign for quite a while. Granted, the job jackets feature is very nice, but this doesn’t balance the sheet against the multitude of enhancements and standout features that Adobe piled on the plate with CS3.

    On another note, how does a long time released version of Quark rate as such a newsworthy story? Not to say I wasn’t interested, but it would be nice to see other major release announcements, that equally or more rightfully deserve exposure. There are plenty to choose from.

    Regards

    Fraser Crozier

    Pacific Magazines

    Dear Editor,

    RE: Bad form as Queensland printers lose entitlements

    In the information sent out by SV Partners Mark DeJesus (former Nexus director) is listed as a shareholder in Primenova Pty Ltd. Primenova is a broker operating from Sydney and a private address in Brisbane. The director of Primenova is Paul Jackson, a business man from a Sydney print supply company. The Brisbane rep is Alex Bird, former owner of Time Colour Graphics. The 6-colour press
    that was partly installed at Nexus was ex TCG! I would suggest that any printer doing work for Primenova would want to see the colour of the money before committing to ink on paper.

    We have seen some exciting times in the print industry over the past few years; however this sort of activity can only give brokers, regardless of size a bad name. Print company owners need to wake up and develop their own client base and stop relying on brokers like Primenova. With the closure of Nexus there are at least three sales reps unemployed who have a great deal of knowledge.

    There are many print companies and suppliers burnt with the closure of Nexus and other companies like them, however in some ways printers only have themselves to blame.

    (Name Supplied)

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