The One Transformation Print Companies Need to Hire Millennials

March 22, 2016

The print industry currently faces a specific challenge: too much wisdom. How’s that for a euphemism for “aging workforce”? Right now the median age for someone in the print industry is 47, as described by Kayleigh Smith from Printing Industries of America:

According to Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median age in the print industry rests around 47 years old. With this in mind, many of our seasoned workers will start to retire in the coming years. Unfortunately, many of the companies in our industry don’t have the ability to cover the impending deficit of talent. The good news is there’s hope on the horizon. By embracing the incoming millennial generation and learning to attract and retain these workers, we see a concrete way to transform our industry and stay current in the marketplace.
— Kayleigh Smith, Manager, Marketing and Media, Printing Industries of America

It is refreshing to finally read about embracing the power and potential that millennials (born between 1982 and 2000) are bringing to the workplace. Too often that cohort gets a bad rap from the grumpy and the fossilized. Millennials will be 40% of the workforce in 4 years. They are the future of your company. Deal with it.

There’s one thing for certain: in order to attract and hire millennials, your print company must be digitally-driven.

By adopting new technologies and offering employees access to those technologies, you will be able to attract and retain top talent. Being digitally-driven is not the only ingredient in the stew, but it’s important.

I conducted an experiment. I asked a few friends and coworkers (nearly all millennials, all very talented) to play word-association. When asked about careers in print, I got this

  • “industry from yesterday”
  • “lack of job security”
  • “interested in more technical work, that’s not the place”
  • “limited opportunities for innovation, not much change”

Interestingly, 3D printing scored off the charts on the coolness/interest scale. In general, so did programming complex machines, designing and implementing eCommerce solutions, and integrating business management systems. Moreover, businesses described as Agencies, Marketing Execution firms, Integrated Communications Specialists, Brand Builders, BPO firms and Marketing Services Providers were all associated with attractive place to work, vibrant, energetic, interesting problems to solve and every day is different.

This leads me to believe that the print industry needs to continue the good “image transformation” work begun in the last ~10 years. Printing is something you do, not who you are.