Nicole Spencer is President of FESPA UK. She is also Operations Director at RMC Digital Print, a wide format digital print specialist that serves a number of different industries including set design, events, exhibitions, retail, signage and construction. She is passionate about the industry she serves and believes it is long overdue for wide format sign and display printing companies to come together to help develop a national strategy alongside the educational institutions to engage people to move into the industry. 


This is something I also feel very strongly about, so when I saw that Nicole had published a blog about the matter on her LinkedIn page I suggested that with her permission I would publish it here on the Gill. If you would like to join Nicole Spencer to help make this a reality you can connect with her on LinkedIn here.


Talent and commitment is hard to find


When you ask children what they want to be when they grow up the answer is rarely (if ever) a printer. It’s not an industry that many young adults know about and not widely spoken about in schools. 


In our business we have a history of employing apprentices and those that have been in a different industry previously. I believe in training people in-house and helping them to develop the skills they need to succeed within the wide-format print world. It’s important that people are recognised for doing a good job and a little encouragement can go a long way. 


One of the first apprentices we employed in the early days is still with us and has developed from an 18-year-old with no experience to one of our most valued members of the team. She was apprentice of the year two years running while doing her course and has worked across a number of aspects of our business. She has more recently moved into an accounts role as she was unhappy with her previous position and is doing a sterling job. 


Employing a young apprentice in this case was one of the best business decisions we have made, that sort of talent and commitment is hard to find.


I recently had an experience whereby one of the valued members of our team felt like their talent wasn’t being recognised and they wanted to leave. It was a difficult situation for me, and I felt like I had let them down. I managed to convince them to stay but it made me think we can all do more to make sure people feel appreciated. 


Even as a company that tries to encourage and develop our employees, I am aware that we don’t always do enough. As a wider industry if we can do more as a collective, then we can keep talented people within print-based jobs rather than them seeking success elsewhere.


As a business owner I realise this is difficult; you’re focused on getting jobs out and keeping clients happy. Through my involvement with FESPA UK I know that this is something they would like to actively promote but as a small association without the support of print businesses it is difficult for them to do so.


In my opinion it is long overdue that we develop a national strategy alongside the educational institutions to engage people to move into the industry. 


We need to recognise potential and foster development. 

Nicole Spencer