Finding a Cure
The print and production community identifies remedies for curing what ails our industry—lack of commitment to continuing education.
Regarding technology, what was cutting edge yesterday, may be old hat today. The past two decades have brought great innovation to the printing and production arenas, thereby creating a recurring challenge for personnel to keep up to speed on the latest technological developments and workflow trends. One of the most often discussed frustrations among our labor force is an inability to hire qualified employees, to retrain staff when needed, and finally, to retain these same employees for lengthy periods of time.
To whom should you turn?
"With the ever-changing nature of our business, learning and education is a never-ending process," suggests Tina Dahl, director, print services, The National Football League, Los Angeles.
One production manager, who admits that he often feels isolated from the rest of the production community, explains how his agency treats continuing education: "For three years running, [my company] has denied requests for me to attend any learning or seminar function. Their idea of learning is for me to call vendors into our building. Granted, it assists in some things, but the majority of my learning comes from reading articles."
Relying on vendors to help production and in-house prepress staff lead the technological pack has become more common than many vendors would like. Still, business models have evolved to rely more heavily on these types of partnerships.
"Our printer has been a great resource for educating us," affirms Tricia Hill, production manager, ST Publications, Cincinnati. "I think that it is in the printer's best interest to help in this regard, because a knowledgeable customer is a powerful partner in getting a job done right."
But is vendor-supplied education enough?
In The Fifth Discipline: The Art & Practice of the Learning Organization, author Peter Senge discusses the need for companies to become "learning organizations."