Printing Industry

Skill Assessments are Crucial to Validate Performance For the Graphic Communications Industry

Frank Kanonik , Printing Industry Expert

Frank Kanonik , Printing Industry Expert

There are thousands of students enrolled in programs preparing them to enter the printing and graphic communications workforce. For graphic communications industry instructors and employers, there is no better way to ensure that new hires have required skills than with industry-driven skill competencies and assessments.

We at Intellective Solutions are proud to be the developer of the competencies and assessments used by the Graphic Arts Education and Research Foundation (GAERF) and SkillsUSA. Joe Rickard and Frank Kanonik led the efforts to create and develop the industry resources. They worked with education and industry subject matter experts to ensure the competencies and assessments are current, valid and relevant to today’s printing industry.

Patty Duncan, Program Manager of the SkillsUSA Work Force Ready System recently said, “I am impressed with Intellective Solutions professionalism and as well as their expertise in graphic communications. They have developed outstanding and timely industry standards and assessments that will benefit all those who use them”

GAERF has available through PrintED, a national accreditation program that is based on industry standards for graphic communications courses of study at the secondary and post-secondary levels. Their Graphic Communication Skill Standards (GCSC) are six sets of skill competencies and corresponding assessments that are used by instructors to validate their curricula, and also by employers to confirm a potential candidate’s capabilities.

There are 6 topics that are covered by the GCSC competencies, and are available for free download at

·        Digital File Preparation and Output

·        Digital Production Printing

·        Graphic Design

·        Introduction to Graphic Communications

·        Offset Press Operations/Bindery & Finishing

·        Screen Printing

The GCSC assessments are available through GAERF and SkillsUSA, and test technical skills and knowledge using an online, graphic rich format. The assessments correspond to the six GCSC competencies. Ordering information can be found at Immediate grading and feedback is provided.

With rapidly changing technology, digital integration and new business models, having up to date and printing industry driven standards and assessments are critical for our industry to ensure a steady stream of great employees. These standards and assessments support that requirement.

How the Printing Industry and Retail is the same

This morning, I had the good fortune to hear retail senior executive Mark Cohen speak about a range of topics affecting the retail industry.  It was outstanding. Mark teaches at Columbia University’s Graduate School of Business and also consults with leading retailers.

To an audience on the campus of Dominican College, he spoke specifically about the challenges, changes and opportunities facing the Retail Industry. Mark gave many examples about the rapid transformation that has taken place and some of the companies that will not survive. He emphasized that leadership and creativity is vital. He emphasized that no matter what changes take place over time, customers will always still search for value.

It struck me as a consultant and trainer who works within the Printing Industry that some of his advice and consul that he gave to the audience apply to the printing industry. Here are some key points that every printing business needs to pay close attention:

·       Short term pricing discounts that impact long term profitability is
        a prescription for disaster. Once you discount, it is impossible to  
        reverse the tactic with customers.

·       Consistent and large discounts are unsustainable and reduce 
        customer confidence in the brand.

·       Provide wonderful and high value products and services

·       Create exciting promotions that don’t rely on discounts

·       Participate with partners to support customer requirements

·       Provide great customer service

·       Move quickly to a multichannel system of delivery and marketing

With all the challenges facing printers, these bullets should be carefully considered. The commercial printing industry was built by small, regional and family businesses. Their core advantage is that they have been able to establish deep relationships with customers in a very personal business.  Keeping up with the times and knowing how to deliver high value products and services is the road map for long term success.