Printing, the future, your thoughts?
All of my life I've been involved in the printing trade, I literally grew up in a printing factory and my family has been in the game for several generations (my father believes I'm the 7th generation of printer in our family, traced way back to Germany over 100 years ago).
I'm not encouraging my children into this trade. Whilst I enjoy my job, I'd rather my kid's future to be in an industry that's developing and growing, not showing worrying signs of fading into history on the back of the digital and Internet revolution: I don't know the figures but when you can access all the information you need on your smart phone, tablet or PC, why bother reading a newspaper or magazine or the like?
Having a discussion with a work mate, we've watched the value of an honest to god pressman decrease with the advent of technology that takes a high percentage of the "human" factor out of running presses, and with the amount of shop closures there's a glut of operators out there, which has resulted in wage stagnation (in real terms we are going backwards!) and limited opportunities to switch to "greener" pastures, as there simply aren't any!
From what I've observed with our apprentices the next generation of printers won't have any of the problem solving skills and depth of knowledge that the current printers do, but the average age of good, experienced printers has got to be around 40 odd years (just guessing here but I'm the youngest in my crew and I'm 37), and we are all worried about the future and the strong possibility that the skill set we've developed will go the way of the dinosaurs in the not too distant future. In certain circumstances this could be advantageous as good operators may become a valuable commodity as more and more people leave the industry and the dead wood is culled, so to speak.
So what does the future hold? Will offset printing survive? Will digital kill the pressman, with the tradesman discarded for a cheaper alternative who can be trained to press control/P/10,000 copies thanks very muchly? Do pre-press suffer the same concerns, given that anyone with a computer can whip up their own stationary from design through to running off a 1000 L/H on their own printer?
I believe there are interesting and troubling times ahead, and personally I'm wondering about up-skilling and leaving the trade entirely, or re-training into more specialized areas of printing that are less likely to disappear.
I guess we will have to keep our chins up and keep working but consider our options come what may.
Just get on with it. Its as simple as that.
Up skill & get out why you still can!
The commercial SF industry is fading away....
Best bet if you want to stay on a press is get into packaging
That's definately on the cards, looking into flexo, packaging or tin printing. Obviously the basics are similar, it would just be a case of learning the operation of slightly different machinery whilst still being able to lean on the skills I've learnt over the last 20+ years.
I'd like to try a whole new industry but going back onto apprentice wages is simply untenable given the financial commitments of having a family and the like...
Just get on with it. Its as simple as that.
Your questions are good questions. I started doing Pre-press in a digital printing shop (large format) 11 years ago. The shop I worked in had 6 or 7 guys in Pre-press, and we had such pitiful memory on our computers, we had to quit Photoshop to open Illustrator. Today, with digital advances, the shop I work in employs 2 people to do all the Pre-press, and we do large format, digital offset, and traditional plate-making for Ryobi 2-colors. The advances in digital processing are amazing. If my computer ever hangs, I realize it's because I have Illustrator, Photoshop, and 10 other apps open! With regards to how digital printing is making offset gurus into dinosaurs, however, I would say that digital is ushering in a whole new set of challenges, and the new generation (of which I am a part) will experience the same sorts of sea changes that offset workers felt when digital was introduced. Hope that makes sense, even if it's no consolation.
I love my trade, from the first day of my apprenticeship nearly 30 years ago i have never regretted joining this industry, the predicted demise of which is grossly exaggerated despite the best efforts of poor management, investment banks etc.
The problem as i see it ( in Australasia) is the printing companies are owned by investment giants whose sole goal is to extract as much profit from these once proud institutions as they possibly can, there is no interest, passion or re-investment in print, governance is accomplished by applying an economic template by a manager whose life expectancy at the head of the company may be no more than 5 years, the extend of his golden handshake will be determined by the short term fiscal performance and in order to achieve this often the most common method employed is to let go of as many skilled staff as possible.
the answer to the original question lies in the printing industry itself, if firms banded together and established a pricing structure ( like the petroleum and paper industries) this would then remove this current trend of price gauging and leave some margin for maintaining a skilled workforce and equipment upgrades and secondly i would encourage as many management buy-outs as possible to return ownership and governance of print companies back to printers and not corporate accountants.
Start a printing business and risk your own money. That is one way. Hoping to have lots of other people do things that increase their risk just to ensure that you have a secure job is not realistic.
Originally Posted by maas
This happens in all industries. Lots of people have their initial careers get marginalized by advancements. Be adaptive to the change and don't fight it. It is hard to win if one does not adapt in some way. The later one starts the harder it is to make the needed changes. Going for a lower paid job in a more growth oriented field can be tough in the beginning but down the road it might be the best decision.
Price fixing will not be allowed. The market determines prices and wages. The world economy is competitive and that is the way it should be even though it can be tough.
I respect you point of view and whilst you are of course correct in the statement "The world economy is competitive and that is the way it should be" there seems to be some discrepancy in letting the market forces determine the survival of finance institutions who are often responsible for expediting the demise of the manufacturing sector, i have no issue with the current playing field except that it isn't level, as long as foreign markets are protected by tariffs why then not tax those who seek to outsource their manufacturing base overseas or in more specific to this forum tax those who get their product printed overseas when there are perfectly good presses and skilled crews domestically struggling for survival, touting market forces is all well and good but this needs to apply across all sectors of the economy not just its manufacturing base
Last edited by maas; 10-08-2012 at 02:44 AM.
Originally Posted by maas
Well for sure, things are not totally fair but what else is new. At one time the West forced trade on others in a non level field environment. The West forced China, by means of military intervention, into buying opium, which China did not want. This was done so that the balance of trade for tea could be more level.
On the subject of outsourcing, who really is to blame. Due to the constant desire of the consumer of products from clothing, food to high tech software and machines, at low prices, this has meant that outsourcing to lower cost producers has to be done. Walmart grew because the North American consumer didn't care about the north american work force. Short term self interest has long term consequences.
It is a difficult problem but I think the best way for a person to avoid some negative economic situations is to be always open to learn new skills, save money by living within one means and be willing to adapt to the changing situation. I wish I could say I have done this but like most people, I have not done enough. It is not so easy.
Well said Erik.
With respect to your first post in this thread, have you accepted the notion that your ITB invention would have faired much better if it had been proposed back when cotton covered ductors where the the primary means for transferring water to the plate?
Al, the general idea should have been accepted 50 to 100 years ago. It is not about the status of technology at any time but the ability of people in an industry to think in abstract terms based on the laws of physics.
Experience is valued over rational thinking and scientific knowledge in this industry and therefore one has to demonstrate new ideas instead of just discussing them. I accept that and that is what I am doing with my concept which will be tested on the packaging press here in Canada fairly soon. What ever soon is. :-)
Some industries start with theory and mathematical descriptions before the practical technologies are developed. Other industries, usually ones based on crafts start with practical technologies and they may or may not develop valid theories to describe what is happening.
A craft based industry can do very well without a lot of theory due to a lot of trial and error over the years but when push comes to shove, such as when other technologies and processes are developed to attack the craft based industry, then the lack of theory hurts because new ideas can not be developed fast enough to give them some protection.
As an example, digital printing has gotten a foothold because offset did not develop out of its initial and old model. The press manufacturers didn't want to and also they couldn't because there were no valid theories to guide them. They are still clueless to what is possible.
I don't want to talk about this because I am tired of talking about this. I will try to get the demonstration going. Hope to get one or two press manufacturers interested and then maybe help them develop new concepts, which are basically old to me since the theory has already been done. The real test will be whether new concepts can out perform and out sell old ones in the market place.
Al thanks for your interest. You have always shown an interest and hopefully you will get to see some results in time.