People in Print

FESPA in Poland: changing fast

by FESPA Staff | 28/05/2024
FESPA in Poland: changing fast

We spoke to Jacek Stencel, Head of FESPA’s Association in Poland, the Polish Association of Screen Printing and Digital Printing (PSSiDC).

What is the current make-up of PSSiDC’s membership?

We are operating in a world of change – Poland is not just dealing with the effects of the COVID pandemic, but also with the Russian invasion of Ukraine on our borders. Like all organisations, we are experiencing challenges. Some of our members are retiring and we have, like many European nations, demographic issues. The recent FESPA Global Print Expo was useful in promoting what we can do and how we can serve our members better. We attracted some new members at the exhibition and the number of members continue to grow each year. This is due to the fact that our benefits continue to be attractive to potential and existing members.

In previous years, PSSiDC mostly comprised suppliers and printers who specialise in different print sectors. But our membership is changing, for example, software providers are increasing in number (for example Antigro, which is based in Kraków) as well as environmental and waste management service providers. These are new members not directly connected with printing, but they offer their skills and products to support the printing market.

What important trends are you seeing in the Polish market?

The pandemic drastically changed the balance of the market in sales and the methodology of selling. Social and commercial restrictions drastically affected the industry: it accelerated a trend that was already there towards e-commerce sales channels. New possibilities and trends in personalisation and mass customisation of print products are also opening new fields of creative operations for printers.

Why is Poland so successful in printing? Is it the perfect case of East meets West: low labour costs plus technical education?

This month, Poland is celebrating the 20th anniversary since it joined the EU. Everything has changed in Poland for the better since then: new roads, new connections and better communications as well as the introduction of new European Union standards. The printing industry in Poland was held back in the communist era (1947-89) as it was mostly in government hands. It was very difficult or even forbidden to run a private printing company until the early 1990s. Therefore, the Polish market started late but when it did, it started with the latest technology: we skipped some time and implemented the newest technologies, newest knowledge and new solutions. Poland had great industrial potential – well-skilled people, but no tools for them to use. Since then, our talent and hard work has become clear to everyone. We have attracted a lot of foreign investment and new business relationships and can offer a strong wide format printing, packaging, textile and commercial printing sector – one of the best in the world.

Of course, we still have new challenges – particularly energy costs, rising salaries and hiring new people– but we remain a very competitive market.

The technical education system in Poland seems strong. But do you struggle to recruit and retain young workers?

Youth engagement is a top priority for PSSiDC and we have several programmes that focuses on this. As with other European nations, it’s problematic to attract young people. Links with government and education institutions are important. In collaboration with schools, we invite young people to spend some time in our companies (for two to four weeks for example) and I liaise with schools to enable that. In my firm, I have employees not just skilled in printing or graphics but who are also skilled teachers. Therefore, young people who spend time at our companies will always increase their knowledge and understanding about our sector.

PSSiDC is also collaborating with associations such as the Polish Chamber of Print and Polish Chamber of Flexographers to make youth engagement more efficient. As organisations supporting the print industry, we also have a governmental grant for an industry skills centre that will be focused on one of the local schools, concentrating on printing, bookbinding and packaging and print converting: real-world skills that our employer partners require in their new workers.

We also try to support and help educate the teachers: recently we gave a 90-minute presentation to 80 teachers from all over Poland about what the market expects today in digital printing techniques, what should be taught to young people, and the opportunities within the industry. We spoke about DTF [direct to film], textile printing and interior décor. A few years ago, the Minister of Education created a new programme for digital printing classes in high schools, but teachers need a chance to learn up-to-date market information and discover what commerce needs. The technology is moving so fast it’s hard for the public sector to keep up sometimes and to find useful sources to update from. Our members are very happy to share their experiences and keen to help.

Not everyone will work with the biggest, most technologically advanced firms. Small companies still need skilled people who can operate basic digital or other technologies, equipment like thermal transfer printing, screen printing or hybrid solutions. An additional important factor is of course the knowledge of different types of software used for print operations.

Was there any particular product or element of the FESPA Global Print Expo 2024 that impressed you?

I enjoyed the World Wrap Masters Europe and Final, which was amazing. I noticed the strong focus on sustainability and responsibility: printing companies must reduce their impact on the environment. Personalisation and mass customisation was fascinating, particularly the focus on textiles and sportswear. What the exhibition epitomised was everything working together: strong machinery needs the support of software and also needs to prove that it is sustainable. 

What are your plans for the next 12 months in Poland?

It’s going to be a busy year. A lot of exhibitions, conferences and meetings are approaching in the coming weeks. Most importantly, we are preparing for the PSSiDC conference in September, where we will celebrate our 30th anniversary. Preparations for the Golden Griffin Awards are proceeding. We are also preparing a Polish print census version; for the first time, it will use data from the Ukrainian market too. After our last general assembly, we have started to consider rebranding the association’s name to FESPA Poland.

by FESPA Staff Back to News

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