Having Trouble Hiring? You’re Not Alone!

All major news sources are reporting on the “Great Resignation”, but what is the truth of our current hiring crisis and how did the U.S. get here?

While worker shortages are affecting every industry, commercial printers and small business print shops are especially struggling to find qualified employees in the current hiring environment. Like many industries which operate on a blend of trade skills and emerging technology, their struggles are caused by two main factors:

  1. Skilled workers are aging out of their positions more quickly than younger generations can fill in the gaps.
  2. The training pipeline for printing trade skills is not being nurtured at either the university level, or by the printing industry at large

Already the largest age population group in the U.S, Millennials will soon make up 75% of the U.S. workforce by 2025. Unfortunately for businesses, experts predict these employees are not a long-term solution to the hiring crisis as the oldest of them are already eligible for retirement as early as 2020. Late millennials, those workers born in the late 1990’s, are the next viable option for businesses looking to invest in new employees that are not nearing retirement.

But the aging workforce is only the first half of this problem. Research shows that Millennials are not entering the workforce with the knowledge needed to operate in trade skill positions. It’s predicted that 2 million manufacturing jobs could go unfilled over the next decade because of these factors alone, and that does not account for retention factors like salary, remote work options, employee satisfaction, and more.

The New Printing Operator Requirements

Recent shifts in the efficient printing business model can also compound the challenge of finding employees who understand offset printing technology. Many modern printers have added new capabilities like wide-format output or digital printing, in addition to marketing services such as data analysis and web design.

Added complexity in daily tasks means that it’s more difficult to on-board employees starting with no knowledge than it was decades ago, when the process was less complicated and the pressures of competition did not demand efficient, mistake-free operation to turn a profit.

As the flatbed printing market continues to grow, employers are seeking workers who can not only operate equipment, but also design and create artwork that will be printed on signs, vehicle wraps or banners.

Because of this technical yet creative skill requirement, many printers are looking outside their industry for help. But what are some ways that printers can take a more proactive, creative approach to fill their open positions?

Overcoming the Commercial Printing Hiring Crisis

Clearly, the traditional approach of finding the perfect candidate via recruitment efforts or waiting for candidates to find the employer and apply is no longer working. Companies need to think outside the box to overcome this challenge and find qualified employees.

The following are some ways to overcome the commercial printing hiring crisis:

Hire From Within

The first step in recruiting is to determine whether you have employees who are qualified for positions that need filling. It is important to invest in current employees by providing training and development so they can meet your company’s needs.

For example, when a pressman retires or leaves for another position, it is a common practice for printers to hire from outside their company rather than promoting someone from within. This can be a costly mistake because companies are now forced to train a new employee when they have resources to leverage in the form of current employees who need a reassignment. Conduct personality and skills testing to find which employees might fit more effectively in open roles.

Develop an Internship Program

By partnering with colleges and universities that offer graphic design and communications programs, companies can develop an internship program that creates a win-win scenario for both organizations. Internships provide potential future employees with on-the-job experience and managers the chance to evaluate their skills and work ethic before hiring them full time.

Market Your Business

U.S. companies spend billions in advertising to market their products to consumers; why not take the same approach with hiring?

Since Millennials are passionate about their careers and desire to work for a company that mirrors their values, like innovation, employee development and corporate social responsibility, marketing your company’s offerings is ever important.

This means businesses need to invest in creating a well-rounded business where employees would desire to work. This involves factors like:

  • Instilling competitive wages
  • Creating an attractive culture
  • Offering comprehensive and trendy benefits (like unlimited PTO)
  • Investing in superior marketing
  • Thinking long-term and strategically (e.g. could the role be outsourced?)

Take Advantage of New Technologies

With technology constantly changing, stay up to date on all recent developments that can simplify the role of each employee. This also means being prepared to train employees on how to correctly incorporate technology and automation into their work.

DigiTech: An Extension of Your Team

Clearly, the printing industry is facing a dilemma with its current workforce. Until skilled trade workers find new ways of recruiting and training apprentices, businesses will likely see slowdowns in productivity, a decrease in overall quality and equipment going unserviced. Unfortunately, the outlook is that some facilities will be forced to shut down because of the inability to keep up with client orders.


However, this doesn’t have to be the case!


DigiTech is an industry leader with more than 30 years of experience in the printing industry. We invite you to learn about how our customers are using us as an extension of their team to alleviate the pressure coming from hiring struggles and helping optimize their printing operations — and all at an affordable rate.


Give us a call at 210.545.6000 or fill out our online form to find out more about how we make happy customers.


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Garrison Lange