A newly established group – Young People In Print (YPIP) – dedicated to inspiring the next generation by bridging the gap between education and the dynamic world of printing has announced its launch.
With a mission to cultivate a passion for entering the printing industry among young minds, the group of volunteers will deliver engaging events held at printing facilities across the UK welcoming groups of students from local schools and universities.
Joining Elizabeth Bowerman (Head of UK Sales at Stephen Austin & Sons), are Paul Stead (ASL Group), Joanna Stephenson (PHD Marketing), Kelvin Bell (VPress), Lucy Swanston (SMP and Nutshell Creative) and Delroy Simmons (Dayfold).
Bowerman comments, “We are reaching out to schools and universities to enable students to see for themselves how amazing the print and packaging industries really are.”
With an annual turnover of £13.7 bn and employing around 98,000 people in 7,200 companies, the UK printing sector is an important economic contributor in all UK regions and is the fifth largest print market in the world. It is also an advanced manufacturing sector, utilising cutting-edge innovation and production technologies, connecting organisations around the world. Despite this, attracting young people to work in the industry continues to be a challenge.
“It has an ageing skilled workforce and the number of tradespeople working in print is plummeting – by 73% between 2006 and 2021 according to the latest data,” adds Bowerman. “Workers are approaching retirement and there is a risk their skills will be lost, which could have serious consequences for our industry if not mitigated. Sadly, our industry has an old-fashioned image, and there is very limited print or packaging education available today, apart from print apprenticeships, but even then, not all printers are using their levy to fund employees,” she explains, citing negative (yet false) environmental perceptions and competition from better-publicised industries like aviation, engineering, automotive and biotech, among other barriers to encouraging young people to the sector.
“YPIP has been established to promote the industry as a far more dynamic, high-tech, innovative, connected, and exciting place to work with clear career progression routes and opportunities,” says Bowerman.
The group will connect print facilities with local schools and universities to promote print as an attractive career and showcase its realities, opportunities and benefits and will hold its first event in March 2024.