Even as the 'Great Resignation' began to echo across the USA in 2021, the print industry was already losing an alarming number of veteran workers to retirement and opportunities in other industries. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics cites that print operator positions are declining at a rate of 13 percent annually – equating to roughly 20,000 people leaving their jobs over the next four years. Considering these troubling numbers and the scarcity of available industry training, Heidelberg USA has decided to restructure its Print Media Center with a strong focus on training programs designed to build and grow the skills of current and future operators and print industry professionals.
Training, an industry critical need
The newly named Print Media Performance & Training Center, located in Kennesaw, Georgia, officially 'opened' its doors to Heidelberg customers this week at an open house event with over 100 participants present. At the event, Heidelberg introduced its initial training schedule for 2022 – set to begin this summer. At first, classes will focus on what Heidelberg has deemed industry 'critical' topics such as:
- Print Fundamentals: Basic Ink & Water Balance
- Specialized Sheetfed Feeder Training for New Operators
- UV Printing including Coating Applications and Special Effects
- Print Troubleshooting
- Commercial Folding Basics: Folder Operation and Slit/Score/Perforation
- Introduction to Die Cutting
- Introduction to Folding and Gluing
'We have an infinite knowledge pool and the most updated technology at our disposal. As an industry leader, we are obligated to educate and train our industry’s workforce to ensure they know what is possible both now and, in the future,' said Clarence Penge, executive vice president of product management for Heidelberg USA. 'It is our responsibility to link the people, process, and technology to ensure our customers’ success.'
Looking at training as an industry critical need, Heidelberg will offer most of the classes in the Performance and Training Center to participants for free, recognizing there is a cost to the customer for travel expenses. Classes will be a combination of theoretical and hands-on equipment training. Click here to see the current schedule.
While training will primarily focus on offset printing and finishing at first, the Performance & Training Center will offer additional topics in the future.
'After much of the virtual learning that took place during the height of the pandemic, we believe that people are seeking hands-on, in-person training,' said Penge. 'There is better long-term comprehension that occurs in a training facility outside of the normal workplace, where people can physically touch the equipment and apply the knowledge they have just studied.'
As this training structure is new to Heidelberg, the company intends to modify its training options as industry needs evolve in the future.
'We’re excited to help move the print industry forward and see how it receives this new Training Center,' said Penge.
Heidelberg recognizes, however, that the Center’s success hinges on the industry’s commitment to registering their operators for available classes.
The latest and greatest available
An essential part of educating the industry on the newest technology is ensuring that the Performance & Training Center is always equipped with it. Recently, the 30,000 square foot, state-of-the-art Kennesaw facility installed Heidelberg’s newest press, a Speedmaster CX 104, six-color UV machine equipped with coater and the patented, navigated Push-to-Stop technology. The new press offers a brand new 104 sheet format and ergonomic design and features a completely new operating philosophy, the Heidelberg User Experience, which together with the Intellistart 3 system and a whole host of assistance systems, ensure short makeready times and the best possible support for operators.
In addition to the new CX 104, the Print Media Performance & Training Center is currently equipped with two POLAR cutters, a Stahlfolder KH 82, Easymatrix 106 die cutter, Prinect workflow, Suprasetter 106 CtP, Versafire EV and EP, Labelfire 340, and Speedmaster XL 106-8P+L – also equipped with the newest generation Speedmaster technology – and will soon add a new Diana Easy 115 folder-gluer. The Performance & Training Center will continue to host in-person or virtual demonstrations for equipment and software – following CDC Guidelines for the safety of its customers and employees.