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FLEXO Magazine : January 2013
Plants & Processes Passing the Torch What the Youngest Generation Brings to the Future of the Packaging Industry By erica l. Morrison Asa genera- tion of Baby Boomers plan for retirement, the packaging industry needs to prepare for the transition by enticing a new cohort of qualified packag- ing professionals. The packaging industry is a silent giant. According to the Flexible Packaging Association, the flexible packaging industry alone reached more than $25 billion in sales in the United States in 2011. In spite of being an industry characterized by cutting edge tech- nology and continued global growth, the packaging industry has almost no presence in front of the average university student. It’s not due to lack of appeal. Technological developments in smart packaging and printed electronics have space- age intrigue. The push toward more sustainable packaging materials and practices correlates with the priorities of young eco-conscious professionals. The packaging industry, however, is largely unrepresented in university curricula. There are a handful of specialized SCHOOL TIES • Characterized by cutting edge technology and continued global growth, the packaging industry has almost no presence in front of the average university student • Technological developments in smart packaging and printed electronics have space-age intrigue • The push toward more sustainable packaging ma- terials and practices correlates with the priorities of young eco-conscious professionals • From package design to plate creation, packag- ing covers creative, technical and manufacturing spheres • Highly specialized packaging programs do not yet have a foothold in academia, but they have the potential for broad appeal amongst students with the right support • Universities are primary hubs for conducting re- search and a key resource for advancing packaging technology. Students involved in innovative research projects at school are coming into the workforce having seen some techniques that are not yet widely disseminated into the industry 60 FLEXO januarY 2013 www.flexography.org