Role and importance of print industry-institute linkage programmes in India

The industry needs a skilled workforce, and the printing institutes are there to do the same. Thus, a successful integration of the industry and the institute is of paramount importance for the success of both entities. They are dependent upon each other for their mutual growth and development, says Dr Anjan Kumar Baral.

31 Dec 2023 | By PrintWeek Team

Dr Anjan Kumar Baral

Printing is one of the greatest inventions of all time and the whole of mankind is indebted to Johannes Gutenberg, popularly known as the father of movable types, for his memorable invention and remarkable contribution in the fields of printing technology. Since the introduction of metal movable types in 1434 AD, the printing industry has undergone numerous changes and transformations in the past and is serving human society in an array of functions and utilities. Modern society is heavily dependent upon printing to fulfil its varied needs, requirements and demands. It can be concluded that the invention of printing made the wheel of the human progression keep moving. The introduction of radio, television, internet and digital media has not impacted much on the role and importance of printed products. Printed products were there in the past, it is very much here in the present time and will certainly be there in the future. Print is progressive and so is the future of the printing industry and print education and research is a highly secure and bright future.

Printing is everywhere, one just names it and it is there; newspaper, toothpaste, bath soap, shampoo sachets, toiletries, breakfast cereals, milk, curd, cheese, juice, fresh vegetables and fruits, kitchens to office, lunch to dinner tables, medicines to FMCG, books, magazines, drawing room to bedrooms, etc, etc. It is practically impossible to live a useful and meaningful life without exposure to printing products. The introduction of printing made a big breakthrough in the areas of mass communication and knowledge and information once confined to a small group of people was made accessible to the common people at an affordable cost.

Knowledge empowers individuals by providing them with the information and skills needed to make informed decisions. It gives people the ability to understand their surroundings, solve problems, and navigate through life's challenges.

The invention of the printing press and the addition of other printing techniques over the period made the printing industry move forward and the growth and development of this industry started dominating the worldwide printing business. Once known as the art and craft-based small and cottage industry, over time transformed into a technologically enabled manufacturing industry. It is now under the category of full-fledged industry and nowhere it is behind the so-called progressive industries in the world business scenario. Conventional printing techniques, digital printing technologies and hybrid printing presses are available in the marketplace equipped with the latest and advanced technologies to take care of the varied needs and requirements of modern-day print buyers and consumers. Over the years, the printing industry has grown exceptionally well in terms of process optimisation and productivity enhancement coupled with increased levels of print quality.

Immediately after independence, it was felt to focus on industrial growth for the essential growth of the Indian economy. Printing education in India started with the establishment of four regional institutes of printing technology with short-term certificate programs in the areas of printing technology at Calcutta, Madras, Bombay and Allahabad. In keeping view of the progress of the Indian printing industry, in the later years, these institutes were upgraded into delivering three-year diploma programmes in printing technology. During the first part of the 1990s, Anna University, Tamil Nadu, initiated the four-year engineering degree programme in Printing Technology, which was considered to be the starting point of print higher education in India.

Since then, other institutes in different parts of India started offering Bachelors, Masters and PhD research-level programmes to produce technocrats to take care of the needs and requirements of the Indian as well as the global printing industry. India, in recent years, is known as the hub for printing education and research programmes. Roughly around 3,500 technocrats at various levels are being produced by Indian printing institutes every year to serve this industry efficiently.

Industries are run and managed by technocrats and successful integration of industry and institute occupies a larger space for the success of the above two entities. They are highly dependent upon each other for their mutual growth and development. They need to maintain one-to-one relationships with each other for their long-term progressive growth. Printing is highly unique in many respects; co-existence of micro-small to large industries, labour and capital-intensive industries, accommodation of a wide range of jobs for production, absence of standardised work procedures and systems, etc. Each printing establishments have its style of functioning, so the success of the printing industry largely depends upon the knowledge, insights and innovative approach of the manpower employed to manage the press. Here comes the role and importance of printing institutes to formulate, design and deliver course content that takes care of the requirements of the printing industry in the best possible manner.

Printing business and education are experiencing changes and transformations both in structural and organisational structures. Printing is evolving and, in the past, it has experienced many ups and downs during its long course of journey. History indicates that these hurdles are successfully absorbed by both the industry and institutes and in the future also they will certainly equip themselves to overcome such situations effectively. In today’s cutthroat competition and survival of the fittest print marketplace, both the industry and the institutes should come forward to join hands together for a better and secure future. The growth concept should be followed by initiating suitable linkage programmes between the Indian printing industry and institutes.

In India, there are around 2,50,000 printing presses, which is considered the largest in the worldwide printing market in terms of the number of printing units and as many as 34 printing institutes spread all over the nation to impart training, education and research in the areas of printing technology. But, when it comes to the industry-institute linkage programme in this field, it is not visible and needs to be strengthened in the coming years. Even though there is a good number of printing associations at the city, regional and national level, the coordination between the industry associations and institutes is missing. For the long-term growth, development and progress of the printing industry and the educational institutes, they should collaborate and come onto a common platform to complement each other.

Indian printing industries in recent years have faced multiple problems in running their day-to-day operational activities; process standardisation and optimisation, productivity enhancement, wastage minimisation, optimising operational efficiencies, successful technological and market forecasting, creation and absorption of innovative techniques and technologies into the workplace, finding the right personnel for the press, and following sustainable practices within the affordable cost. 

The printing institutes are also facing multiple problems which include infrastructure in terms of proper classrooms, laboratories/workshops, machines/equipment/devices to support teaching-learning, timely maintenance of the installed equipment, filling of the vacant faculty positions, uniform course curriculum and content of the subjects, regularly updating of the course structure in keeping the view of the industry requirements, research facilities, training of the teaching faculties, participation in national/international level knowledge sharing programmes, etc. 

To have a win-win situation for both the industry and institutes, both should come forward and engage in meaningful discussions and deliberations to find out the path on which they need to move forward in the coming times. Recent printing industry market trends indicate the print job run length is shrinking day by day and the varieties of printing jobs are increasing with print-on-demand, personalization, mass versioning, shorter delivery schedules, enhanced print quality, green and environmentally sustainable practices with printed products at a competitive pricing structure. This essentially compels the printing industry to opt for technologically advanced printing and allied machines and equipment to handle the print production operational activities, which generally come with a huge price tag. To take of such systems, the printing institutes are expected to produce printing technocrats with essential knowledge and skills to serve this industry efficiently. Both the industry and institute should meet regularly to prepare the future roadmap which will help each other to attain their common goals of continued growth and development for a sustainable print world and secure future.

(Dr. Anjan Kumar Baral is a Professor, Author and Motivational speaker from the Department of Printing Technology, GJUS&T, Hisar. He is also a member of ISO/TC 130, Switzerland and Chairman, MSD 6, BIS, the Government of India.)