Philie Group Blog

Recruit, Train, and Retain the Next Generation
By Mike Philie

This blog originally published in Printing Impressions.



Without a doubt, every owner I speak with is looking for employees. Bindery, press room, IT, and customer service positions seem to be areas that are hard to fill. And let’s not overlook sales positions – ask any recruiter what the number one job request is and it’s most likely sales. Most companies go to the tried and true practice of posting jobs on industry job boards, use the various online recruiting sites and LinkedIn, as well as utilize the services of a recruiter. And then there’s word of mouth, which seems to get some of the better hires. That said, I’m not sure that at the end of the day that any one source is more of a go-to resource in filling positions than the other, and most employers use several of these channels. So how’s it working? According to most folks I speak with, not good enough.


There’s Always Other Options

There are always other options, it really depends on how much time, effort, and resources you want to apply to it. How important is it to have a good bench of candidates to fill the various positions you have available, and what will you commit to do to recruit, train, and retain them? That’s where the separation occurs between companies, and it doesn’t have to be that way. There are a number of very interesting, and innovative initiatives being used that are out in public display. Go out and read about them, see how they work and ask questions, and see if they can be effective in your situation.


Innovative Initiatives

Scroll the pages of the internet and you’ll see stories of one firm after another doing some pretty cool things to attract future employees. Suttle-Straus recently participated in a Future Quest  event to meet and greet middle school kids and show them how augmented realty worked with paper robots. Strategic Factory is hosting an event to talk about their summer internship program for sales, marketing, and HR positions. They have also hosted job fairs in the past to show off what they do and to attract employees. These are only two examples, but there are hundreds of them and it doesn’t stop there. Industry associations have always been active in promoting careers in print.


Start Them Young

I believe that the effort needs to start in the school systems to continue to promote print careers as a great option. These options, for a variety of reasons, are often overlooked. I was introduced to print in the ninth grade by a graphic arts instructor who was passionate about print and I’ve never looked back. The Printing & Graphics Association Mid-Atlantic has taken a strong position in developing training curriculums at the secondary school level as well as in general workforce development for the industry. My guess is that there might be an association, or school, or local workforce development initiative that would be interested in helping you to get the word out about the opportunities you have, all the way to helping you develop a training program that facilitates hiring folks from outside of the industry and making them proficient in your business.


Get your team together and evaluate if these options work for your business. If you’ve come up with something else, I’d love to hear about it. Good luck with this and remember, doing nothing is not an option!


Mike Philie can help validate what’s working and what may need to change in your business. Changing the trajectory of a business is difficult to do while simultaneously operating the core competencies. Mike provides strategy and insight to owners and CEOs in the Graphic Communications Industry by providing direct and realistic assessments, not being afraid to voice the unpopular opinion and helping leaders navigate change through a common sense and practical approach. Learn more at,  LinkedIn or email at



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