As an industry, it is imperative we look toward the future, and consider what we can do today to ensure a sustainable workforce. There are many ways in which we can encourage, educate and help students pursuing or considering our field. I know this firsthand since not too long ago, I was a student studying graphic communication technology at Millersville University of Pennsylvania.
Like any college student, I was doing my best with the classes I was given, hoping to land a great job I would enjoy after graduating. I had also hit that all-too-common roadblock, contemplating whether I had chosen the right program.
When I was ultimately awarded a scholarship through the Print and Graphics Scholarship Foundation, it not only helped me pay for my education, but reassured my decision to follow this career path. It was comforting to know others were supporting me as a professional and wanted to see me succeed.
Now, being on the other side of a scholarship program, I enjoy bringing that same comfort to those in the position that I was in. I've watched our scholarship program grow from five student winners and 15 applications in 2016 to now 15 scholarship winners and over 200 applications. These students are passionate, well-educated and eager to enter our growing, viable industry that needs skilled employees.
Of course, this all begins with printing technology knowledge, dedicated instructors and industry support. Too often I've heard about graphic communications programs closing due to the lack of funding or student involvement. As a printing community, we must work together to cultivate these skills by supporting printing programs in schools. Consider incorporating an internship program in your shop, reaching out to local schools, holding facility tours, participating in SkillsUSA — whatever you can do to spread awareness.
Congratulations to all of our 2018 SGIA Scholarship winners on their dedication and hard work. I am confident if we continue programs like this, our industry will be in great hands.