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Package & Label Printing

Package & Label Printing

Spring 2013

Printing a Bright Future

The printing industry is thriving and Fox Valley Technical College leads the way in training.

Three years ago, Appleton resident Marshall Roberts never thought that he could go from a minimum wage job to working with high-tech presses. Roberts works at Little Rapids Corporation in Green Bay, a company that develops, manufactures, and markets products that promote safety and sanitation within medical and beauty settings, and specialty papers for a variety of end-use applications.

While in high school, the now 23-year-old Roberts heard about the Package & Label Printing program at Fox Valley Technical College and thought he would give it a try. “It was a little intimidating at first to even look at a two-story press, but the instructors were always there to help,” he says. “Once I started, the whole experience came fairly easily to me.”

The hands-on learning approach at FVTC worked well to prepare Roberts for his on-the-job responsibilities. “If you show me how to do something, I get it,” he says. “The instructors at Fox Valley Tech definitely make sure you know what you are doing before you step out the door.”

FVTC even helped Roberts land his job. “I came to class one day and found out that a representative from Little Rapids Corporation was there to distribute applications,” he says. “I had an interview two weeks later and was hired before I graduated.”

There is an immediate need in the printing industry for qualified employees. “Companies from all over the Midwest post their jobs on our site,” states FVTC Printing Technologies Instructor Scott Gehrt. “We’re fluctuating between 40 to 80 job postings on our board right now.”

Roberts is now working hard to advance his career. “There’s always something new and jobs change all the time,” he says. “It’s a great experience and I literally learn something every day.”
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The printing industry is not only thriving, but it also offers a variety of advancement options. “Our graduates can go on to become press assistants, press operators, ink technicians, plate makers and more,” states Gehrt. “They have a lot of opportunities because we’re the only college in the Midwest that provides training in pre-press, narrow press, wide press, and corrugated.”

In addition to preparing students, FVTC also supports the continuing education needs of professional printers, printing companies, and their suppliers. “When companies hire new people or upgrade their technology, we provide the needed training,” explains Mark Keller, department chair of FVTC’s Package & Label Printing program. “Suppliers also come to us to test their new inks and papers. Our biggest challenge right now is scheduling so both students and companies can gain access to our equipment.”

By the Numbers:

$25 billion in U.S. sales in 2011—the package and label industry is often referred to as a silent giant*
8% annual job growth rate in Wisconsin for flexographic press operators**
1/3 of all flexographic printing plants and presses are located in the North Central region of the United States**

*Flexo magazine, January 2013
**Flexographic Technical Association

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