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Print industry reaches out to TAFE graphic design students

Print and signage industry representatives were on hand this week for the launch of a new initiative aimed at educating TAFE graphic design students about the range of employment opportunities across the printing industry.

James Cryer at TAFE Hornsby
 JDA's James Cryer at TAFE Hornsby

Program founder James Cryer of JDA Print Recruitment delivered a 50-minute address to print veteran and graphic designer Howard Binns-McDonald’s class of more than 20 design students at TAFE Hornsby in Sydney.

Cryer was backed up by valuable contributions from Signwave franchise business consultant Kirsty Koopmans, Snap national training coordinator Mitchell Dowzard and Kurz national technical specification manager Adrian Barbero. The industry turnout illustrated the increasing support for the program to be rolled out across TAFE colleges on a wider scale.

In a wide-ranging printing industry overview, Cryer, in his trademark quirky style, outlined opportunities available in design, pre-press and actual printing, across various sectors including offset, digital, wide-format and packaging, and examined the growth of print managers, brand managers, personalisation and colour management.

“Employers are looking for graphic designers with a broad-based understanding of print because the industry is becoming more diversified, not less,” Cryer told the students. “Bosses love versatility, and in this age of over specialisation, being a 'generalist’ is better than being a ‘specialist.’ It’s been proven time and again that when someone understands the whole process rather than just their own speciality, productivity increases, mistakes reduce and morale improves.

“Similarly, if you as a designer have any hopes of moving into the growing brand-management segment, it pays to have a good understanding of offset, digital, flexography, wide-format inkjet, plus POS and displays, plus the folding characteristics of cardboard and whether a certain ink has UV and/or scuff resistance.”

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James Cryer addressing students at TAFE Hornsby

The presentation was well received by the students, most of whom stayed behind afterwards to pick up training and employment information from the various company representatives. Teacher Binns-McDonald described the session as one of the most effective class sessions in recent memory.

“To put it simply, the presentation was one of the best Design Talks that we have had here at Graphic Design, Hornsby TAFE,” says Binns-McDonald. “James explained technologies which require new print applications, he referred to inkjet printing, 3D printing, material surface printing and other new directions that print needs to perform to remain current. Print is not just ink on paper in books, magazine and packaging. 

“To accompany the presentation, James surrounded himself with industry experts to further emphasise his determination to encourage new entrants into Print. 

“Both Kirsty and Mitchell described how their companies have widened their range to accommodate client expectations. They explained their companies’ willingness to engage graphic design students in their corporate offices in fulltime and work experience engagements, and demonstrated that the industry is wanting to invest in students.

“James and his team were really enthusiastically received by the students – the students liked the delivery, they liked the various points of view presented by the other presenters, and they liked the samples!”

The whole point is to dispel the myth that print is dead or dying, Cryer says. He also referred to the resurgence of letterpress printing – “the heart and soul of our industry which is making a come-back for personal stationery, wedding invitations and more," - and cited the Penrith Museum of Printing, which holds courses in this almost-lost art.

Cryer, a long-term industry advocate, plans to hold similar events at TAFE colleges in the near future and has also produced a unique Print Industry Jobs Matrix to incorporate into the program, which outlines various jobs available in commercial, packaging, signage and trade services across all print-platforms, including offset, digital, flexo and wide-format inkjet.  He invited other TAFE colleges to get in touch to express their interest in the program.

“The skills shortage is an issue which is biting deeply and affecting our ability to grow as an industry,” says Cryer. “Hopefully the PIAA, who were invited to attend but for whatever reason were not able to, will also throw their weight behind this initiative.”