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Minnesota Department of Labor and Industry

 

"We had a training program in place through Flexographic Tech and were looking for opportunities to introduce potential workers to the program. We were excited about the prospect of using the dual-training grants to assist companies and students with an incentive to pursue printing as a career." 

— Ted Biggs, vice president of manufacturing, AWT Labels and Packaging.










AWT Labels & Packaging

Flexo Tech and AWT Labels & Packaging became aware of the PIPELINE Program through the City of Minneapolis and attended an industry council meeting to see if their program could be considered.

AWT logo"We had a training program in place through Flexographic Tech and were looking for opportunities to introduce potential workers to the program. We were excited about the prospect of using the dual-training grants to assist companies and students with an incentive to pursue printing as a career," said Ted Biggs, vice president of manufacturing, AWT Labels and Packaging.

Flexographic printerThe group worked closely with DLI to identify and validate the competencies for the occupation to align with the skill set required to be a flexo press operator. "We are excited about the potential to expand this occupation and give our employees greater knowledge and skills for a career in the printing industry," said Shawn Oetjen, instructor. In the second grant round, four flexographic employers applied for grants to assist 18 employees, two of which were recent high school graduates, for a total of $108,000 grant funds awarded.

A growing field

The printing industry in the United States is a $200 billion business. The packaging segment of the industry has grown at an average rate of 2.1 percent annually since 2012. The workforce’s need for trained operators is growing as both the industry need and the age of operators advances. The U.S. Census Bureau indicated that more than 21 percent of the current workforce in the Minneapolis area is above the age of 55. Assuming an average retirement age of 62, in seven years approximately 21 percent of our work force will be permanently exiting their jobs for retirement. Only 11 percent of the current work force is under the age of 25. This indicates a major influx of employees needed to fill the job openings of those that are retiring. That, coupled with a U.S packaging market forecast of  3.9 percent annual growth for flexographic printed goods, illustrates the increased need for trained press operators. In 2015 there were 202 new flexographic press installations in the US and Canada and 506 worldwide, further demonstrating the growth of the industry and the need for training.

A talent shortage

The Flexographic Technical Association (FTA) recently compiled survey results of the state of the industry and 40 percent of the US flexographic printers surveyed indicated they had difficulty filling job postings. Fifty-six percent of such employers reported that the talent shortage had a medium to high impact on their ability to meet client needs. Flexographic press operators are needed across the nation and the Twin Cities has a high need for trained printing press operators. However, in Minnesota, traditional college programs have been closed, leaving no source for newly trained workers until recently. 

Questions or comments about the Minnesota PIPELINE Program?

Contact Annie Welch, PIPELINE Program manager, at (651) 284-5353 or Annie.Welch@state.mn.us.

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