Of course, workers are ill treated in the print industry!

How much do you invest in your workforce? How to find the right kind of workforce and nurture the ones you have? Old timers speak about how tough it was to find trained printers in India, and it's still not easy. The need for a team on the shopfloor is a pressing problem.

15 Apr 2016 | By Noel D'Cunha

The challenge

Finding the right kind of people to work in your press is onerous.

Getting young people into your shopfloor is tough since they have many more options, and they want more from their life.

To most people, a job on the shopfloor is a second-rate career choice. To others, the problem is specific to print, and it’s one of the images.

In Germany, print engineers are held in high esteem and appreciated. In India, they have a lesser status (unless there is a machine breakdown), and the dreary image of workers with oily rags and greasy skin endures, doing our industry no good and my attempts to recruit no favours.

In this sense, there is a lot of chatter about the wage and contracts. It is in this sense that I have put together some of the terms and conditions, in particular for people who are eyeing a job in print. As well as print shops that are underpaying.

The method
Many printers poach; mostly from fellow printers.

Others reach out to the brands, agencies and buyers of this world. One way is to advertise in local design schools, using upbeat, eye-catching artwork. Also, use social media.

The other option is to tap into the job fairs at print schools.

Once you select the recruits, keep an eye on the new entrants for three to six months to see that their attitude and performance is suitable. Also, impart training, from print, pre-press and finishing, to print administration and warehousing. That way you know where the skill levels are the best. Basic or advanced? Make sure you have good mentors who oversee apprentices when they make plates, manage colour or set up for makeready.

Do remember: print colleges are not always the best environment to learn; sometimes training isn’t specific enough to an area of print. The first few weeks ensures higher quality work and fewer mistakes through a better understanding of the job and what the rest of your team is doing.

At a time when the rest of your workforce is aging; it is crucial that you empower the young - and create a dedicated, loyal workforce. Sometimes the young can bring in a fresh perspective and new ideas, which are just as important to your business.

Young people have good technology skills gained from using computers, mobile phones, and social media from an early age. A printing plant can be a great place to use this knowledge to build competitive advantage. And that's because we invest in new technology. There is a printing plant in Navi Mumbai, which integrated Domino inkjet heads on to its label lines to offer 2D barcoding. This not only boosted its chances of winning more work but helped dissipate the dinosaur image of the print sector as a dated and dirty, oily-rag trade. It is, therefore, more attractive to those about to enter the working world.


Hire the right person. Be prepared about how you identify what sort and age of worker you want and how you conduct the interview. Ensure you have a segment on your website that will enable you to reach to a bigger pool of potential candidates.

Hire professional training providers. Your suppliers and other tech supporters like GATE and Janus, and even technologists in your company can provide inputs on training. Training should offer variety, a clear career path and the knowledge that the staff is being invested in while incentives and benefits boost motivation.

Invest the time and effort. While your apprentice may spend time on off-site training, you will need to provide on-the-job training and mentoring to offer them guidance and support.

Use training to promote your company. Inform your buyers that your company is launching an in-house training scheme, which will reinforce its skills base and highlight its onus on good-quality service and products. Some buyers may attend the training programme.

Don’t think people are part of the short-term plan. Don’t expect to see a return on your training for three to five years. There is no such thing as cheap labour.

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