Nigel Davies from FESPA Australia (left) and Christian Handler from VERBAND DRUCK & MEDIENTECHNIK (right) on the valuable role FESPA can play in nurturing the industry.
What key changes would you like to see in the industry?
Christian: The industry is shrinking but the digital part is growing. We’re still in the midst of a digitalisation change that started sometime in the 1980s. We thought it would be over in 10 years, but it’s still going and evolving.
We need to show young people that the printing industry is a vibrant industry
Nigel: Training in our industry is a problem. The government has stopped funding training programmes for some areas of the industry such as screen printing apprenticeships because they have decided that they need to make money from it. But they can’t make money unless they get a lot of students, and these sectors don’t generate a lot of students, which means there is no training going on at all. It’s very difficult to get young people to come into the industry. It’s our biggest challenge.
This seems to be a huge problem worldwide at the moment. Do you think this recruitment challenge should begin in schools? What’s the answer?
Nigel: In our industry there are a number of organisations that are collectively working together, that try to go into schools. But most of the ideas that arose in the secretaries’ meeting [at FESPA] were about appealing to young people through the media that they feel most comfortable with.
Christian: We need to show them the printing industry is a vibrant industry.
Nigel: And you can do that through online media in various forms. It makes absolute sense.
What do you value most about FESPA?
Christian: It’s a way to network, and in the last few years FESPA have done very well in reinvesting the money from the trade fairs and putting it back into the industry. We all appreciate the funding and the way this lets us be creative. It has to be a really good idea or concept to secure the investment.
Nigel: When you come here and see the success that people have created through their Associations, it’s a very inspiring thing and I go home motivated until the next one! FESPA is my fuel and provides me with inspiration and enthusiasm!
Christian: I enjoy the opportunity to meet with the secretaries and presidents across FESPA’s international association footprint. It’s a great opportunity to share knowledge and ideas to better engagement with our members nationally.
What kind of ideas were discussed?
Christian: It’s good for the printing industry to support and offer inspiration in the recruitment process to reflect that printing is a vibrant technology business. Within the Associations network we appreciate the extra reach that FESPA offers. Being connected to all of the key vendors presents an opportunity for broader discussions and wider understanding that will help answer questions about youth engagement.
Nigel: I’ve attended meetings in Asia and I have heard the same discussions around the challenge of getting young people involved in the industry. It really is a universal problem and we all lack ways of dealing with it. The meetings with FESPA where the international community gather to brainstorm provides imaginative and useful strategies for improving this situation. The workshop discussions generated interesting ideas to build a campaign. Many of the suggestions were very similar, although it was encouraging to hear some really innovative approaches to build upon.
The exciting part of the industry is looking at new ways of differentiating themselves through customisation
What will be the next phase of the print industry?
Nigel: There is a lot of merging of disciplines that were traditionally separate. There’s a lot of crossover now with some parts of the industry that didn’t exist before. While the industry faces high levels of competition that challenge margins, it also forces innovation and improvement in efficiency. Businesses are seeking new customer interactions and building new ways of working to differentiate themselves from their competitors. So whether through customisation, the increase in printed décor or the integration of new printed textile products there are always developing opportunities. It’s not about the square-metre price of print that dominates the retail printing industry.
by FESPA Staff