Labour Shortages Impact the German Printing Industry

The printing industry faces a critical challenge of a shortage of skilled labor and trainees. With a workforce of 110,000 employees, the industry currently has 8,700 trainees, but the demand for skilled workers continues to outpace supply. Approximately 75% of the 7,000 companies in the sector report significant difficulties due to this shortage, and many apprenticeship positions remain unfilled.

“The print industry has been grappling with labor shortages for years,”

remarked Heidelberger Druckmaschinen, a leading provider of sheet-offset printing presses. A recent study by the company reveals that nearly half of the surveyed companies are struggling to find suitable skilled staff, ranking this issue above rising energy costs and bureaucratic challenges. The study, which surveyed 700 firms, suggests that automation and digitalization could mitigate the staffing crisis by making jobs more technical and appealing.

The upcoming drupa trade fair, scheduled from May 28 to June 7, 2024, in Düsseldorf, Germany, will focus on these solutions. As the premier international event for print technologies, drupa will provide a platform for companies to showcase their technical innovations and recruit new talent. The “drupa next age” forum, dedicated to the industry’s future, will facilitate connections between employers and potential employees, including students and alumni from institutions like Stuttgart Media University and the International Circle of Educational Institutes for Graphic Media Technology and Management.

Various initiatives aim to promote careers in the printing industry and increase awareness of its opportunities. The BVDM (German Association Print and Media) has produced training videos featuring media technology, print, screen printing, print processing, and digital and print media design trainees. These videos highlight the above-average wages and enjoyable, secure career prospects within the industry.

The Machinery and Equipment Manufacturers’ Association (VDMA) launched the “Talentmaschine/Talent Machine” campaign to spark interest in machinery and equipment careers among young people.

At drupa, the Fachverband Medienproduktion (FMP) will debut its WE.ARE.PRINT initiative, which focuses on partnership, networking, and talent promotion within the print and media industries. Additionally, drupa will feature numerous special forums and projects showcasing the creative and innovative work of students and trainees.

Sabine Geldermann, Project Director of Print Technologies at Messe Düsseldorf, emphasized the importance of drupa as a venue for engaging with skilled labour and young talent. She stated, “drupa offers print service providers and their suppliers a unique opportunity to present the industry’s future and attract the next generation of professionals. I am confident that this innovative industry will continue to draw more young people seeking dynamic and rewarding careers.”

By addressing the labour shortage through innovative solutions and robust educational initiatives, the German printing industry aims to secure its future and continue its legacy of excellence.