The print industry has come a long way since the days of Gutenberg and wooden blocks and is well on its way to making a comeback! So why is it that we have lost a good decade of trying to encourage the youth to get involved with print?

We are all fully aware that for some time the print industry had lost its way but I can tell you, it’s very much alive and well. It may not be back to the good old days of the 80’s where the industry was buzzing but the industry has evolved and is taking on a new direction.

Traditional print is making a comeback in a big way. As digital and email marketing is becoming more saturated, print marketing and direct mail methods are returning as a preferred, elegant approach to interaction with customers.

So why are the youth of today not seeing the print industry as a desired career path to take? Well, I would put a good bet on it that it’s probably because they have the same conception of the printing industry as I did back in the early 90’s. Some small back street printers, with a printing press being run by some old man in a blue overall and an office that consisted of a set of stairs overlooking the unit, piled high with paperwork and as dirty as downstairs in the factory. Was I right? Pretty much.

So what’s changed? The industry opened up, that’s what happened. No longer does it just consist of that man in the Bluecoat running a printing press.

It offers great opportunities with a huge variety of roles and the prospect of a career with opportunity for advancement. Precision is a great example of this with job roles ranging from Reception, Accounts, Commercial, Pre-press operators, Printers, Account managers, Marketing, Digital Media, Program writers, Sales managers to Client Services, the list is endless

So how do I know there’s no youth coming through? By the 49 application forms we have just received and with all but 10 being over 50! That’s how. This is not the first time either, this is pretty much standard now.

Look, I don’t want you to think there is a problem with anyone over 50 applying, experience is good and we all need to put a roof over our heads but what happens when all of our over 50’s decide it’s time to pack up? The industry will well and truly be on a downhill spiral.

So, are we spreading the word enough? Not in my eyes, no. For many, printing is not a natural first choice for a career these days or if at all. So we need to educate, encourage and execute.

Although any youth entering the industry is good, it is not enough to just hope that young people ‘fall’ into our industry by chance or luck anymore. We need to encourage them by introducing them to print and paper and show them the various career paths that they can take.

What we need to be doing is taking on youngsters and giving work experience, going into Secondary Schools and talking to School Leavers about our industry, either this or open up our doors and bring them to us with workshops. There’s nothing better than school leavers seeing the industry with their own eyes. Why take our word for it? After all, it’s their whole future that depends on it!

The printing industry is the fifth largest manufacturing industry in the UK. Do our school leavers know this? Probably not! Everything they encounter, from the pictures/posters on their walls, to the money in their wallets and purses, is made in the printing industry. There’s no company/Industry in the world that doesn’t use some form of print whether they want to or not.

So there goes the thought I had for a second that possibly the youth of today could be scared of the industry. Maybe they think or thought that technology may take over ink on paper and that the way forward is digital. How wrong could they be? Print is on the up again, how long for? I don’t know? But what I do know is that the disappearance won’t be any time soon should we all as one spread the word, move with the times and stick with it.

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About Author

Charles Whitworth is the Editor of the Young Academic publications. Graduating from the University of Liverpool with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Journalism in 2008, Charles learnt his trade in newsrooms such as IPC Media and Sky. He has now developed as a top sports, music and current affairs journalist and has been printed in a range of publications including The Guardian. His interests include Cricket, Football, Rugby, Music and Current Affairs. Fresh from the editorship of Student Times he now takes the reins at Young Academic - the premier student news portal. Connect with me on Google+

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