I have for years heard people talking about how difficult it is to recruit young talents in the graphics arts industry. I have also for years listened to influencers who have buzzed about Gen-Zs and Millenials, and to be dead honest, it's never been high on my agenda. Not because I am not interested in both young people (all my three kids are either Gen-Zs or Millenial), but simply because this was something I couldn't change - or that I at least believed until a few days ago!
I met Rita! I interviewed Rita Estevinha Silva from Portugal because she won the 'Young Talents Award 21' instituted by Intergraf. I realized that I was the only media person interested in her and the ten other mentioned submissions www.printyourfuture.eu.
Ladies and gentlemen, members of the press, that's simply not good enough. If this industry needs young talents, the least thing we can do is sharing the work these young people have submitted. There is, however, an even bigger problem because you have one excuse. The excuse is Intergraf. Many probably heard the name of the organization. Still, I can't imagine many know what they do - and when they decided to raise EU funding for a campaign addressing how to make the industry attractive for young people, they don't have the skills. And I am sorry to say that they or the communications company they chose to work with are simply totally disconnected from both the printing industry and the young people - NOT good.
Do I know any better? Well, probably not, but when simple facts are not correct on the campaign website, how should the rest be right? Let me give you one example, and if I am wrong in my judgment here, I am more than willing to provide a public excuse!On the www.printyourfuture.eu there is an option to get an overview of print-related educations. You'll find an endless list of schools and courses - and well, maybe this is good enough, but ask yourself, is that what a young person is looking for? Could it be more interesting to have a database where the user enters current education, and then the database delivers a list of semesters relevant to your education, supported with deadlines for applications, photos from the schools, connection to other students, etc.?
Could it be interesting, since the site and the campaign are pan-European, to list rules and regulations, scholarship options, etc., and what about encouraging students to use opportunities throughout Europe?There is only ONE thing good about the campaign, and that is the young people who have actually submitted projects - and now they live the most secret life you can imagine.
So next.What attracts young people to the industry? First of all, you can read suggestions from two handful young people from a few selected European countries!
That is a starting point. However, before digging into actions, let me bash the campaign one more last time. When a European organization like Intergraf initiates a process to identify the challenges attracting young people to our industry, you must have some facts. Unemployment among Gen-Zs and Millenials are VERY different across Europe, so maybe there isn't one single solution?The printing industry apparently has a few denominating problems, i.e., we don't do anything to make our industry attractive to young people. As Rita so elegantly says, it's mainly an image problem. The second and equally important thing - no media, including my own, has really given space to the Gen-Zs and the Millenials. Third, all the well-meaning marketing and PR people talk about the Millenials in particular - they can't see the forest for trees. Why haven't Intergraf and their campaign partner addressed them? And why haven't any of the PR- people and influencers taken the opportunity to promote the young people who actually dare to stand forward and address the issues?
Last thing - I promise!
We have a problem. The Gen-Z and the Millenial issue is not about listening and adapting. It's time to act, and the acting is in my mind not to give them what they want but to take them seriously and have the debate. The debate is important since a good positive future means listening to all stakeholders - Boomers, Millenials, and Gen-Z are stupid terms - we are humans. We have tremendous value in working together, understanding the generational differences, and take advantage of the diversity a well-formed workforce should have.The angry old (53) man is now checking out but will revert with concrete plans. We want to be part of the debate!