Thursday, 20 Mar 2014 09:00 GMT

A perverse state of affairs

Sitting as chair of a recent round table discussion panel hosted by digital press manufacturer Ricoh, it was interesting that the two topics generating the most heat were margin erosion and the dire lack of youth recruitment.

Sitting as chair of a recent round table discussion panel hosted by digital press manufacturer Ricoh, it was interesting that the two topics generating the most heat were margin erosion and the dire lack of youth recruitment.


Indeed, recent figures from Eurostat and McKinsey claim Britain is at more than 20 percent youth unemployment (aged 15 to 24). So it seems perverse that, on the flip side, almost the same percentage of UK-based employers from its surveys say that finding candidates with the right entry-level skills in both the manufacturing and white collar sectors is a serious issue.


Of the numerous wise print industry heads around the discussion table, the majority were both digital and litho capable, and involved in providing a range of services that were once completely alien to printers, including website design, digital marketing, and wide-format signs and graphics printing.

So it seems perverse that, on the flip side, almost the same percentage of UK-based employers from its surveys say that finding candidates with the right entry-level skills in both the manufacturing and white collar sectors is a serious issue

The general consensus was that the average age in their firms was well above even the top level of the 15 to 24 age bracket, with only one employing an apprentice, and one other company planning to take on an employee in this age range.




The recent round table explored: How can print-service-providers adapt and implement
change to cope with the demands of a modern industry?

This could have just been a freak cross-section of one of our sector’s core business models, but I tend to think not. The arguments that moved back and forth seemed to centre on the fact that the last five-years of austerity has created a culture where companies have only been able to hire staff that can quickly get up to speed and hit top production levels with little or no training—a poor look out for school or college leavers. The one company that had taken on an apprentice, however, sung the benefits of such a move, citing a move into e-commerce, social media marketing, and the adoption of labour-saving software systems as just a few of the good ideas this ‘digital native’ had brought to the table. So, with the economy now back in the black, perhaps it is time to start chipping away at that 20 percent.

ddd