The industry faces a crisis caused by the absence of training for the fresh faced entrants to the industry and the lack of skills that result. But this is not just a crisis caused by the lack of press and finishing skills: it is a crisis caused by the lack of knowledge among those expected to specify and buy print.
Much has been said about the rediscovery of print by millennials, but this is in terms of its design and has not percolated much further than the graphics colleges. Hipster designers and artisans are righty lauded for championing the tactile aspects of print and the value added finishes it can offer. But this can never be the mainstay of marketing print. Too many students are emerging from colleges or design courses knowing how to create a website but with no understanding of the printing process. They do not understand the need for bleed, knowing only to tick that box on the InDesign file without understanding why. They do not understand what a spot colour is, nor a simple spot varnish. Yet these freshly qualified students, as interns, are in charge of purchasing print for some of the largest brands around.
It falls then on the industry to educate the print illiterate. Many companies do run well attended educational sessions and find that the youngsters are engaged, enthusiastic and want to learn. They will remember the experience and later in their careers may return to the printer who first revealed the wonders of litho or digital print. We should put pressure on the conventional training systems, but as an industry we also have to grasp this nettle and take some responsibility for training. Our future prosperity depends on it.