I’ve been writing a lot about the talent shortage the print industry is facing and the importance of recruiting since the beginning of the year. LinkedIn recently published a study that helps prove why it’s critical that we focus on talent development for the future of the business landscape.

The baby boomer generation is slowly exiting the workforce as many of them are closing in on retirement or have already retired. According to the study, 33% of the U.S. workforce became eligible to retire last year, and about 10,000 workers retire every day. They’ve also estimated that by 2024, we’ll have lost 28.6 million Americans to retirement. Those are huge numbers if you really think about it.

This is a serious problem, especially from a leadership standpoint. Many of these workers are holding senior and executive positions within their companies and have been responsible for setting and maintaining a vision for the rest of their team to follow. As they begin to transition out, a lot of these responsibilities will have to be handed down to the next generation of talent.

In the print industry, where the talent gap is wider than other industries, the issue grows more paramount. This is something I’ve discussed in a previous blog post regarding the biggest threat to the future of print. The talent gap is a real issue, and it’s not something that should be ignored. In our industry specifically, many of the players are small to medium-sized businesses, some who are family-run, that may not possess the proper resources or time to develop their talent for leadership roles. The extent of most of their leadership transition strategies involve having Sally follow Joe around for a few months to see how he runs things before she takes over his role. And while that strategy is fine for some, it’s won’t be enough to fully prepare them for their new and more significant responsibilities. A proper development strategy for young talent will not only prepare them for leadership positions but also provide them with the confidence to perform as a leader without hesitation.

“Confident leaders result in confident employees which result in business growth and opportunities”

In fact, according to the LinkedIn study, the numbers prove that a formal leadership development strategy results in higher performance all around. Confident leaders result in confident employees which result in business growth and opportunities. Sadly, however, only 1 in 3 companies focus on fostering employee creativity and innovation, while only 1 in 5 focus on leading across countries and cultures. There is a lot of ground that needs to be made up here if we want to prepare ourselves for this leadership shortage.

This is why it’s important to have a formal leadership development strategy in place so that our current and incoming young talent are prepared to lead the future of our industry. I know it can be easy to fall into the mindset of “print is dying” and “there will be lack of innovation and direction and vision in the years to come.” But that’s not how we should be looking at the future of our industry. Print will not die, but it is certainly going to change. Preparing the next generation for leadership roles within our industry can lead to massive opportunities that our previous generation may have never seen or thought of before. Some might fear a lack of innovation or direction, but we need to learn to take that risk and put our industry in their hands. It won’t do us any good to sit back and moan and groan about what might happen when our leaders have left the workforce.


This touches on another topic I’ve discussed regarding the difference between a service provider and a manufacturer. You can read more about my distinction here but defining your model will allow you to approach leadership development as is appropriate for the future of your business. Once you’re clear on this, then you’ll be able to bring on and develop new talent so that they align with your company’s vision; whether that’s to be a stronger, faster, and better manufacturer, or to be a service provider looking to provide new services and more opportunities to grow while finding different ways to keep print relevant. Either way, leadership development is how our industry will continue to thrive in the years to come.

As our year starts to wrap up and everyone focuses on planning for 2017, I urge you to seriously consider putting talent recruitment and development at or near the top of your priority list. We need to start taking risks on the next generation of print talent and giving them the opportunity to grow and learn the necessary skills required to lead. The survival and growth of your business will soon rely on them taking the reins.

If you are seeking some direction with your talent development strategies, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with me through my social pages or via email. I’d be happy to help out in any way I can. Thank you for following me.

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