User login

Education: It’s Not Just for Students

(July 2009) posted on Tue Aug 25, 2009

Shop owners who come up with excuses to avoid spending the time or money to properly educate their employees are typically the first to blame their workers for mistakes and lapses in productivity. This article discusses the reasons why you should educate your staff and offers several resources for training.

click an image below to view slideshow

By Mike Ukena

What comes to mind when the subject of education comes up in your business? If you’re like most, your response is not enough time—not enough time for the owner to learn, the manager to learn, and the employees to learn.

In my opinion, based on 25 years in the business as an owner, educator, tech-support specialist, and ink salesman, our industry has to be one of the worst at educating its people. Owners and managers who come to our industry from elsewhere are usually stepping way down in business size. Most of those people think that our industry is so simple that they don’t need to provide any training—and they do not need any themselves. This attitude helps to explain the great number of very basic technical questions that swamp support forums and technical-support personnel. As an example, I get anywhere from 20-50 technical-support calls per week. I would guess that at least two thirds of these calls are what I would call basic enough that I’m surprised people in this business do not know the answers.

I do not mean to infer that the people who ask these questions are stupid. I can safely say that I was in a similar position when I first started. The difference is that I quickly realized that I needed to educate myself so I could, in turn, educate my staff.

The most common tactic for new business owners in our industry is to hire experienced printers. They think that if they just do that one thing, they’ll be off to the races, making the big bucks. Well, I am here to tell you that if you haven’t been at this endeavor long enough to realize it yourself, that strategy seldom works well. Most of the experienced people that you hire suffer from several problems:

1. They learned on their own in the first place.

2. They did not learn to do the job properly—just enough to get by.

3. They are changing jobs because they weren’t so good at their last one.

4. Even the ones who are pretty good printers probably don’t do a very good job of passing their knowledge on to others and, even worse, may try to guard what they know as some kind of job security.


Forms of education in screen printing


Did you enjoy this article? Click here to subscribe to the magazine.