For centuries, the UK has been at the forefront of the printing industry, producing books, newspapers, leaflets and other printed materials. However, in recent years, the print industry has seen a decline in the number of skilled print workers, raising questions about the future of the sector.
What is the Situation?
The decline in skilled print workers in the UK is a serious cause for concern. In 2017, the UK had the lowest number of printing workers since records began in 1997, with only 9,900 people employed in the sector. This is a drop of 39% since 1997.
At the same time, many of the print workers who remain are ageing and nearing retirement. This means the decline in skilled workers is unlikely to be reversed in the near future.
What are the Causes?
The decline in skilled print workers is primarily due to the decline of print media and the emergence of digital technologies. As more people turn to online sources for their news and information, the demand for printed materials has fallen dramatically.
At the same time, the cost of digital printing has plummeted, making it much cheaper and easier for businesses to produce their materials. This has led to a shift away from traditional printing techniques and the need for skilled print workers.
What are the Implications?
The decline in skilled print workers has serious implications for the economy, culture and environment.
Economically, the print industry was a major source of employment for many people. The loss of thousands of jobs in the sector has had a significant impact on the economy.
Culturally, the decline in skilled print workers has also had an effect. Printing is an art form, and the loss of skilled workers has meant that the knowledge and expertise they possess has been lost.
Environmentally, the shift away from traditional printing has been a mixed blessing. Digital printing is often more efficient and uses less paper, but it can also produce more waste due to the chemicals used in the process.
What Can Be Done?
In order to reduce the decline in skilled print workers, there are a number of steps which should be taken.
Firstly, the government should invest in training and apprenticeships to ensure that the skills of print workers are not lost. This would help to ensure that the knowledge and expertise of the sector is preserved.
Secondly, the government should also introduce incentives and subsidies to encourage businesses to invest in print media. This would help to increase demand for printed materials and create more jobs in the sector.
Finally, the government should look into ways to reduce the environmental impact of digital printing. This could include introducing regulations on the use of chemicals, or encouraging businesses to use more sustainable printing methods.
The decline in skilled print workers in the UK is a serious cause for concern. If the situation is not addressed, it could have a drastic impact on the economy, culture and environment. In order to mitigate the effects, the government should take steps to invest in training and apprenticeships, introduce incentives and subsidies, and look into ways to reduce the environmental impact of digital printing.
Read some of our related blog posts:
The Future of Commercial Printing: Trends and Innovations
Digital Transformation and Automation in the UK Printing Industry
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