Mike Roberts, the Independent Print Industries Association’s (IPIA) new chairman, has called upon the print industry at all levels to work to attract potential talent.
Sworn in as chair at the IPIA’s AGM last month, Roberts, who took over from Kath Doran, is managing director of Leeds-based print manager PMG Print Management, and has announced plans for the association during his two-year tenure including a potential name change and the introduction of an obligatory accreditation scheme.
“People have been banging on about this in other associations and in ours for a while but it’s all about talent,” said Roberts.
“The industry, not just at manufacturing and shop level, needs to be attractive to the youth but also on the marketing side we’ve got to be influential and help marketeers understand the value of print and develop talent there as well.”
Roberts added that he also wants to forge closer links with print buyers, building on the success of the IPIA’s Everything’s Possible in Print (EPIP) conference.
He said: “The big thing for us is that we’ve got to drive demand ultimately, but when we’ve done EPIP it has been aimed fairly and squarely at marketeers and brands who don’t understand the value of print.”
The 130-member strong IPIA, which Roberts referred to as “the only membership association in our space that’s growing not contracting”, has picked up around 30 members over the past year and is looking to pick up another 30 in 2018. Currently in beta, its new accreditation scheme will be rolled out to members on an optional basis in Q1 2018 and is aiming to be obligatory for all members within 18 months.
Roberts, who began his career as an apprentice compositor aged 16 and has only ever worked for three companies, stressed the passion he has for an industry coping with the modern demands thrown up by digital.
“I love the industry because it’s a massive part of my life and whilst we all thought the internet would kill print and digital technology was going to kill litho, it hasn’t killed any of it,” he said.
“OEMs are now supporting us in a way that I’ve not seen for many years so that to me demonstrates that we are beginning to do something right. But I’m very aware that we have to now deliver the promise not just the chatter.”
Founded in 1990, the IPIA is manned by three full-time staff: two administrators and chief executive Marian Stefani. In an in-depth interview with PrintWeek earlier this year, Stefani said she wanted the industry to further understand what the association is trying to achieve.