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FLEXO Magazine : March 2009
FTA TODAY "Education is a great tool that is be- ing utilized in the flexographic industry," declared Shawn Oetjen of Dunwoody College of Technology. "The proper educa- tion of flexographers will help to lift the flexographic industry as a whole to new levels in this ever competitive market." Jim Lentz of Pennsylvania College of Technology called the effort a "win -win situation for school flexo programs and the flexo industry." He continued, "This op- portunity provides very valuable exposure of the college-level programs available in many geographic regions and provides the industry the opportunity to learn more about what programs are available in their area as well as the pool of available talent that may provide excellent full-time employees or in- tern opportunities." "This initiative could not have come at a better time, with the economy being in the state that it is in," insisted Nona Woolbright, Clemson University. "Any employee that can hit the ground running or learn new skills quickly will save companies money, and that is just what a new hire is when they have completed an education that includes instruction in flexography." Many of the professors within flexo and packag- ing programs are eager to promote the benefits of hiring one of their gradu- ates, as opposed to bringing people in "off the street" and training them on the job. "Our students are entering the production world with an entry level-knowledge of the flexo process from prepress to press," explained Mark Keller, Fox Valley Technical College. "Their education opens many doors of opportunity in this industry. Chances are these new employees are go- ing to show up to work for the long haul rather than working one week and bail- ing out. Through their education, these students have made the commitment to the industry learning all aspects of this industry. They have made a career choice through their education." "The biggest edge a degree gives you, - FLEXO MARCH besides the knowledge, is a base of skills that you can fall back on and an overall better chance of advancement," added Stephen Gerhardt, Central Piedmont Community College. "You can easily train someone to be a press helper and he or she can become extremely experienced with that process or press. But if this person loses his or her job, what then? Someone with a degree will have at least theory and maybe hands-on in many processes from sales, prepress, design, press, etc." He went on to stress the importance of internships, co-ops and other real life experience that many of the schools offer. "These things ATTENTION, FLEXOGRAPHIC INDUSTRY You are Invited To The Education Reception at FFTA Forum 2009 Sponsored by TEST (Technical Education Services Team) Today's students are tomorrow's workforce. Come network with prospective employees and potential colleagues. Date: Monday, May 4 Time: 5:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. (immediately following INFO*FLEX) Location: Coronado Springs Resort, Lake Buena Vista, FL alone give a more balanced knowledge base and will help someone being phased out or even trying to get a better or differ- ent job at the same company." "Our students aspire to start in industry as CSRs, salespeople, estimators, produc- tion coordinators or in similar positions," said Ian Baitz of Ryerson University. "We believe that universities and colleges of- fer students the potential to attain that first job in a position which will challenge and reward them. Strong and motivated graduates progress quickly and often achieve levels of success in their careers which those entering off the street are unlikely to attain. Problem solving, critical thinking, appreciation of technology and 2009 www.flexography.org an understanding of business practices are important to career success, and we try to develop these attributes in our students. Thanks to industry and professional asso- ciations, we are also successful in bringing our students into the flexo family, and stu- dents really enjoy and appreciate oppor- tunities to network with those in industry before they seek their first job. This is the advantage of having a degree in graphic communications, flexo or packaging." All today's students need from indus- try, according to Larry Ahleman, Western Michigan University, is time. "They need time in the industry, jobs and internships." SEEING IS BELIEVING When discussing the education initiatives at Forum 2009, Bettylyn Krafft, chairman of the Phoenix Challenge Foundation, pro- claimed she was "ecstatic!" She went on to say, "Last year, we really made a splash with the College Phoenix Challenge and increased people's awareness of what is really going on in education." Krafft insisted that, in the past 10 years, education has become vastly more impor- tant in the flexo industry. "It gives the opportunity to open doors. Without educa- tion, these doors will not open. As the industry has become more high-tech, the need for a more skilled workforce is there and com- panies need to hire more educated staff." Tuccitto spoke similarly. "Technology keeps enhancing. Flexography is no longer just an art. Presses are more complex today than they have ever been. Prepress software and workflows are more complex today than they have ever been. Having a broad understanding of how this stuff works is huge. Flexo is no longer the dirty, inky printing process it once was. The industry has come so far that computers, RFID, and similar technologies are what's driving it." Krafft further noted that today's young people truly have the analytical mindset that's needed to excel in flexography and packaging. This was demonstrated last year-and will be again this year-at the
Sustainable Winter 2009