Virginia Department of Education updates Graphic Communications skill competencies


Frank Kanonik, managing director of Intellective Solutions recently participated in a workshop to update the Commonwealth of Virginia’s graphic communications skill competencies. The courses being taught in the Commonwealth are now aligned to the new PrintED skill competencies.

The Virginia Department of Education conducts periodic reviews of the technical knowledge required by potential employers. Bringing together educators and industry representation confirms that the graphic communications courses being taught throughout Virginia will lead to students being prepared for todays high skill, high demand and high wage careers in the print industry.

It was extremely encouraging to work with such a dedicated group of teachers that equips their students with the skills required to be successful in the printing industry. What students need to know is different from even a few years ago. Courses being taught today must reflect the newer technologies being used.

During the workshop, each skill competency, also known as a Task Statement was discussed to ensure that it was both measurable and expressed a specific action that was being learned. Also developed was a description of each task to help the educator and questions to help encourage critical thinking and discussion.

An example of a Task Statement is the following:

#72 Explain the purpose of Imposition


Explanation should state that the purpose of imposition is the positioning of pages in a way so that the pages in the finished format document come out in the proper printed sequence and should include step-and-repeat, work and turn or tumble, and signature.

Process/Skill Questions:

  • What are the consequences of incorrect use of imposition on a document?

  • How has digital printing technology affected imposition?

  • How would a work-and-Turn imposition differ from a work-and-tumble imposition?

  • How does imposition for saddle stitch binding differ from imposition for perfect binding?

The recently updated PrintED Skill Competencies were researched and managed by Intellective Solutions. Interviews were conducted with numerous educators, printing companies and vendors to validate their completeness and accuracy. To download a free copy of the Skill Competencies, visit:

To learn more about the Commonwealth of Virginia’s Career and Technical Education department’s efforts and success stories, visit

PrintED offers assistance and accreditation for schools that offer graphic communication courses.

For information on the Intellective Solutions newly available Introduction to Graphic Communications curriculum visit:

Perkins CTE Act Approved and Improved

We are excited with the recent reauthorization of the HR Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education (CTE) Act. This is a bipartisan triumph for Congress and the Administration to extend and improve the 2006 Perkins Act. In the very large and transitioning Graphic Communications Industry there is a growing demand for skilled workers. This Act addresses many needs of job seekers and industry.

The Graphic Communications Industry is rapidly changing due to the impact of the internet, data driven printing, digital imaging technologies and expanding industrial applications. As a consequence, we are seeing shortages in labor in multiple states. Graphic Communications is among the top five manufacturing sectors in the United States.

A highlight of the Act is bringing the funding and decision making closer to the local communities and employers. For a good review of the improvements, see H.R. 235s: Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act. A key focus of the legislation is directing resources to providing the students with the actual skills necessary to fill today’s available jobs. For us, that means less theory and old thinking and more “hands on” and creativity.

This Act is huge step in providing the right skills to available job openings. There is no better place than the ever changing and transitioning Graphic Communications industry.  We at Intellective Solutions are very proud to working with High Schools and vocational institutions across the country to provide benchmark curriculum and instructor/student resources for courses in Digital Production Printing and Intro to Graphic Communications. Congratulations to our government for agreeing in a bipartisan way to deliver a great bill.

Printing students win medals at SkillsUSA National Competition


During the week of June 25 over 16,000 students, teachers and business partners gathered in Louisville Kentucky for the 54th annual National Leadership and Skills Conference. More than 6,000 outstanding career and technical education students, all state contest winners, competed hands-on in 100 different trade, technical and leadership fields. Students worked against the clock and each other, proving their expertise in occupations such as electronics, computer-aided drafting, precision machining, medical assisting, culinary arts and graphic communications. Contests are run with the help of industry, trade associations and labor organizations.



Graphic Communications students started the week with a general assessment based on the Graphic Communications Skill Competencies provided by PrintED, and the SkillsUSA Career Essentials Assessments provided by SkillsUSA. Intellective Solutions is proud to have been involved in the research and authoring of both.

Later in the week, each student competed by estimating projects, completing prepress work and printing and binding jobs. Each student was assessed by an industry expert. Gold, Silver and Bronze medals were awarded to High School and College winners. Of special note is that Brittany Whitestone is going on to Russia to represent Graphic Communications at the WorldSkills Competition.


It was both invigorating and reassuring to see students preparing for their future in our industry. It was obvious that the schools they attended had prepared them well for the testing in Louisville. They knew how to estimate projects and were well versed on the business side of the printing industry. They had genuine excitement about starting their careers and bringing new ideas and innovations to our industry.

SkillsUSA ( is a national membership association serving high school, college and middle school students who are preparing for careers in trade, technical and skilled service occupations.

PrintED, administered by the Graphic Arts Education and Research Foundation (GAERF®) is a national accreditation program, based on industry standards, appropriate for secondary and post-secondary schools offering graphic communications curricula (

Print and Graphics Scholarship (PGSF) Recipients Selected

I recently had the honor of participating in the selection of the Print and Graphics Scholarship Foundation (PGSF) scholarship recipients. The PGSF distributes about $400,000 in scholarships to 200 students each year. The PGSF was formed over 60 years ago and since its inception, over 7,000 students have benefited from the financial help they have received from PGSF.

The PGSF awards scholarships to students pursuing a career in the graphic arts and is made possible by donations from individuals and companies. For me, it was great to see the names on the endowed scholarships. I’ve had the privilege of knowing and working with many of these individuals who have built this industry through their innovations and determination.

The print industry would not be as formidable as it is today without people like Bert Bassett, Zeb Green, Fred Kagy and Naomi Berber. These fine folks (and many others) dedicated their lives to print and with the help of their scholarship support are passing the baton to a new generation of innovators.

It was stimulating to read some of the students’ comments on what they are hoping their career paths will be. Many were interested in the design aspect of our industry, some were interested in management, a good-sized number want to work in companies that blend print with new media, and there were even a few that had the desire to go into sales.

There was an awareness by the students of the power and value that print provides. Kudos to the teachers who are emphasizing this in their classrooms! As we all known and cringe about, there has been a fair amount of negative opinions about print tossed around in the media over the years.

Of note, this is what one of the students had to say about their career aspirations…

“I see myself striving to achieve my goal of owning my own printshop. Working in this industry is my passion and I want to have the opportunity to make my own mark, to grow this industry and keep it moving forward.”

With students like this, their passion and their love for the printed word, our industry will continue to lead, grow and prosper.

For more information about the Print and Graphics Scholarship Foundation and how to support it, contact John Berthelsen at 608-575-3904 or

For scholarship information, contact Bernie Eckert at 412-259-1740 or The PGSF website has some great resources for students and parents investigating the graphic communications industry as a career.

PIA Print Award Judging held at Dubiski High School

I recently had the honor of being a judge for the PIA of MidAmerica print awards held in Dallas. These types of regional competitions showcase examples of print that are in a word, extraordinary. They reward those printers who produce printed pieces that are flawless and celebrate the craft of the printing industry.

What made this year’s competition so special was where it was held. The judging took place at the Dubiski Career High School in Grand Prairie, Texas which is near Dallas.

We hear a lot about how young people aren’t interested in the printing industry today…how it’s old, boring and lacks the glamour of other high tech occupations. The students that we encountered at Dubiski were genuinely enthusiastic and very engaged about their future in the print industry. It was incredibly refreshing to see students busy creating pages on their computers, printing their projects on a digital press and running a booklet maker. All with a determination to produce the best work they possibly could! The students in the graphic communications program are outstanding examples of the future of our industry.

Dubiski is a member of SkillsUSA ( which provides help for both students and teachers. Its an organization that is aligned with the PrintED ( program, which offers accreditation for schools that offer graphic communication courses. The graphic arts students were so proud of the awards they received from SkillsUSA. When I asked one of the students about the SkillsUSA pins she was wearing, she gushed excitement about what each of them meant to her and how she won them.

In addition to the graphic arts programs, Dubiski also has other programs such as engineering and architecture. While we were there judging the PIA print awards, the culinary students prepared and served us breakfast and lunch. It was awesome! They are well on their way to successful careers.