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Over 50 unemployed Prepress Tech, should I call it quits for printing?

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  • #16
    Originally posted by lenasal View Post
    I've been there and done that...twice, in 5 years. Seems no one was willing to invest in an over-45, female, mid-level designer with more than 20 yrs. offset and digital prepress and production experience, at least not for more than $15/hr. Folks loved my resume and my portfolio was solid, but even my barest minimum salary requirements that might cover transportation, much less pay any bills, even that number was too high for me to even be considered for a position. Finally I got an offer that wasn't perfect: part-time, for lower than average salary (but much better than the $15/hr. rate). But it turned out to be the best job I ever had and I was devastated when that gig ended due to budget cuts.

    It was another 18 months before I was so desperate that I took one of those 15/hr. freelance gigs, and 5 yrs. later, at 51, I'm into my second year at a full-time job that I love with a different company, at reasonable pay and amazing benefits. But geez, what a depressing, frustrating, ugly struggle it was.

    Here's the thing: I had to find needs in the new place I worked, then fill in the holes in my own knowledge of current software and processes in order to fill those needs. I ended up researching and becoming the "expert" leading the company into online proofing software. Then I researched volume production techniques and implemented data merge processes, cutting production time by 30%. Then I discovered scripting and researched that and worked up some funky Acrobat JavaScript Actions that were far from perfect, but automated a couple of basic tasks we had been doing manually. And I did most of that at $15-$18/hr. The agency I was freelancing with had a client who was impressed with the outcomes of these couple of things I worked on. It was a bit of a circuitous path, but they took me on in-house. Now our photo library is a disastrous mess but no one has the time, energy or inclination to do anything about it, but I called out the need and did a lot of research and self-education and have taken on the charge to implement a DAM system.

    There's a lot of new technology out there and lots of things to learn that can be applied to jobs that are out there but might not seem worth it on the surface. It's a ton of work and not for the feint of heart, but essential for those of us fighting obsolescence. And it is a fight.

    Big things that are out there that could be avenues to something: Automation and scripting, especially in production and pre-press, both digital and offset. DAM technology and processes. Online proofing systems. Workflow optimization. Anything else that you love or even something new that you are interested in learning about, can serve as springboards to something that's out there that you don't even know about. Also a willingness to venture into the less-than-perfect not knowing what it might lead to.



    P.S. Medication and/or therapy can temporarily help with the depression, frustration, and humiliation that are almost unavoidable in this situation. It can at least keep those things at bay long enough for some motivation and optimism to seep through to the surface and keep you moving forward. I couldn't have done anything without it.
    Im right there with you with the depression! Sounds like you fought your way back with persistence and hard work. Good for you, that is inspiring to hear.

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    • #17
      I'm 26 and definitely better than all of you. Stop resisting, just accept my superior age.

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      • #18
        Here in Australia it is against the law for a prospective employer to even ask your age. Slowly we are turning around this misinformed belief that the older generation has nothing to offer.
        It's a very different job market here, we don't have to fight for basic rights like health insurance, superannuation and other entitlements, they are all legislated.
        We have seen a decline in the number of young people entering the industry, the apprenticeship system has been all but dismantled, not just in printing but in all trades.
        One of our concerns here is that there will be nobody to hand the baton to when those of us with years of experience retire. The average age in our shop, including Prepress, Pressroom and Bindery would be close to, if not over 50.
        I recently advertised for a Prepress technician with experience in Prinergy, I did not get a single application from anybody who met the criteria, and only 1 from anybody who even had Prepress experience.

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        • #19
          Have you considered estimating, production planning or production management as a career option. I was originally a press operator and transitioned to estimating, then to production before settling into prepress 20 years ago. The skills in other areas are very valuable in these roles and you can save a business a lot of money by using your knowledge and experience to improve and maintain efficiency. Your attention to detail and knowledge gained as a prepress technician can help enormously in an estimating or planning role, implementing and improving workflows and reducing waste and inefficiency.

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          • #20
            Originally posted by Magnus59 View Post
            we don't have to fight for basic rights like health insurance, superannuation and other entitlements, they are all legislated.
            Have you ever given a thought how that contributes to the "number of young people" who have no ambition?

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            • #21
              Originally posted by DYP View Post

              Have you ever given a thought how that contributes to the "number of young people" who have no ambition?
              I don't see how basic workplace rights and ambition are connected. From what I've seen of USA young people are exploited far too much.

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              • #22
                Originally posted by PricelineNegotiator View Post
                I'm 26 and definitely better than all of you. Stop resisting, just accept my superior age.
                You’re not better your just naive. Your time will come. I hope for your sake your not thinking about a career in prepress cause it won’t last long
                Last edited by photoshopdude; 01-12-2018, 01:18 PM.

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                • #23
                  Anyone out there still looking for a position and are near the Dayton, OH area??? Contact me offline. Send your info to: sipeedie4@gmail.com

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                  • #24
                    Originally posted by photoshopdude View Post

                    You’re not better your just naive. Your time will come. I hope for your sake your not thinking about a career in prepress cause it won’t last long
                    Methinks that was not intended to be understood like that as I detect some industrial strength cynicism. But perhaps I am wrong.

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                    • #25
                      Photoshopdude - Have you considered talking to some of the vendors you have met over the years? They are constantly looking for people with industry experience for technical sales support, training, product support, etc.. These days many of those jobs can be done remotely from your home office or with some travel hence not demanding relocation. http://jobs.esko.com
                      "you never know how the past is going to turn out"

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                      • #26
                        Originally posted by Magnus59 View Post

                        I don't see how basic workplace rights and ambition are connected. From what I've seen of USA young people are exploited far too much.
                        I do, and I expect the correlation is the exact opposite of the one DYP insinuated. But maybe he has more direct experience than I have of how making the Australian workplace a more advantageous place to be has shattered young people's desire to enter it.

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                        • #27
                          I was thinking more about the "other entitlements". When the cost of working (taxes and how those entitlements are paid for) is more than the benefits of working, and one can somehow live without working what do you expect. The only place I know where rewards and success come before work is in the dictionary. But what do I know? I am an old-timer who has worked my azz off my whole life.

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                          • #28
                            Originally posted by DYP View Post
                            I was thinking more about the "other entitlements". When the cost of working (taxes and how those entitlements are paid for) is more than the benefits of working, and one can somehow live without working what do you expect. The only place I know where rewards and success come before work is in the dictionary. But what do I know? I am an old-timer who has worked my azz off my whole life.
                            I think Magnus was talking about 'other entitlements' for workers, not the unemployed.

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                            • #29
                              I have the opposite problem hiring. I wouldn't mind hiring a young person with ambition to train into a prepress operator. Can't find them, and end up hiring an older person. I have noticed the last few people hired in any department, have all been gray haired, because they are the best candidates.

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