Print and paper specialists develop solutions to skills and recruitment challenges at SPPRING project workshop

14 June 2019

70 delegates gathered in Graz, Austria, on 6 June for a workshop tackling the pressing skills and recruitment challenges in the paper value chain. In three breakout sessions, representatives of printing companies, schools and universities, trade associations and recruitment specialists shared their experiences and contributed ideas to the forthcoming skills and recruitment strategy for the sector.

Intergraf and CEPI, the Confederation of European Paper Industries, brought together key stakeholders in the print and paper industries to exchange views on current and future training and recruitment needs. The workshop in Graz was part of the SPPRING project (Skills for the Paper and Printing Industries' Next Generations), which will develop a skills and recruitment strategy for the printing industry.

Georg Konetzky, Head of Department for National Market Strategies at the Austrian Ministry for Digital and Economic Affairs, opened the day by setting out some of the challenges which many industries in Europe face, such as an ageing population, the development of artificial intelligence, and a mismatch between the supply and demand of skills. He then gave an overview of how officials in Austria are trying to meet these challenges, such as through better targeted apprenticeship schemes. 

European Commission representative Constanze Veeh then gave a presentation on how the changing reality of trade, climate change, and global power balances are impacting European job markets. She highlighted the specific challenge of needing to prepare young people for jobs that may not yet exist. Constanze Veeh quoted American writer and businessman Alvin Toffler “The illiterate of the 21st century will not be those who cannot read and write, but those who cannot learn, unlearn, and relearn”.

Intergraf organised three sessions throughout the day for the 40 delegates representing the print industry: firstly on current skills and education, training and recruitment needs in the print sector; secondly on future skills, education, training and recruitment needs; and thirdly on ‘Making it happen’, with delegates setting out their priority action steps to address the problems identified. Each breakout session for the print industry began with an opening presentation from a print specialist, and Mike Hopkins, Hilltop Consulting (UK), and Fiona Narburgh, 3F Consulting (UK), moderated the discussions. In parallel, the paper delegates also had targeted discussions.

A number of issues were highlighted by the print delegates. It was raised that the industry suffers from a negative image of being perceived as old-fashioned; that there are not enough engineers applying for advertised jobs; and that training methods are not keeping up to date with the demands of modern students. Nevertheless, there was no shortage of ideas to address these problems, and the day concluded with delegates commenting on the positive, inspirational mood and renewed motivation to solve current and future problems.

Intergraf Secretary General Beatrice Klose said that:

“Following the crucial discussions at this workshop, SPPRING will continue to examine the current and future skills and recruitment challenges our sector faces in order to develop best practice guidance for printers. This will ensure that employers in the print sector can find skilled workers – for the benefit and longevity of our sector”.

Bernard de Galembert, CEPI’s Innovation and Bioeconomy Director said:

“Those working in our industries are the best ambassadors. We want to promote the reality that our industries are modern, green, and high tech. Today has proven that there is a wealth of initiatives already in existence by which to do this”.


  • Georg Konetzky, Head of Department for National Market Strategies, Ministry for Digital and Economic Affairs, Austria
  • Constanze Veeh, European Commission, Directorate-General for Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs

Print Industry Specialists

  • Luc Bouters, International Circle of Educational Institutes for Graphic Arts, Technology and Management, Artevelde Hogeschool, Belgium
  • Marcel Lemain, GOC advice and training centre, Netherlands
  • Mike Hopkins, Hilltop Consulting, UK

Paper Industry Specialists

  • Wolfgang Bauer, IPZ-Institute Graz, University of Technology, Austria
  • Gerald Kreuzer, PRO.GE (Industriall), Austria
  • Wolfgang Bliem, ibw Austria - Research & Development in VET, Austria



If you want to be provided with more and/or higher resolution photographs from the event, please contact Alison Grace at Intergraf.


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Notes to Editor

Intergraf is the European federation for print and digital communication. We are a Brussels-based trade association representing employers in the European printing industry. Intergraf represents 21 national printing federations in 20 countries. Our primary task is to represent and advocate for the interests of the printing and digital communication industry in Europe, working with European Union to support the sector’s competitiveness through advocacy, information-sharing, networking and social dialogue. For more information, please visit:

For more information please contact

Alison Grace
Communications & Policy Officer at Intergraf
Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Tel: +32 (0) 2 230 86 46