Finding Skilled Workers

I just read your notes [Editor’s Notes, January 2013, p. 6] in the most recent Package Printing magazine. I have similar issues as most managers in our industry—finding highly skilled workers has become increasingly difficult.

I have found that companies that will invest the time and money into an apprenticeship type program, to be very rare. Europe, as you know, has apprenticeship’s in almost every skilled area of the workforce. It works well in Europe for many reasons, and job opportunities are limited for those not going on to college. So the offer of an apprenticeship with its longer term benefits is huge to many kids and their families.

In the States, almost everyone with some help can get into college. Once graduated, we have taught our kids to expect much more than a low paying apprenticeship.

I, myself, served in our industry, a five year, very low paid apprenticeship in England, which has worked out well for me. During my apprenticeship I was sent through the London College of Printing on a block release program. I don’t know if a similar college course or curriculum is offered in this country.

In the U.S., it is my belief that this issue will not be resolved by individual companies; it will take the industry as a whole to solve it. People will not take years to train skilled workers, only to have them poached by others. Also people move around much more in the States than they do in Europe.

I am very pleased to see you broach this subject, as I feel it is one that our industry will have to attempt to solve—soon.

Chris Lengthorn
Director of Operations
Clondalkin Pharma & Healthcare