Paper Matters Blog
How Young People Are Revolutionizing the Print Industry

Call it what you like—the younger generation in print, Gen Y, Millennial—the under 30 age group is coming up and changing everything. They’re hungry, they’re curious and best of all, they’re interested in print. They’re the future of this industry, and though this generation tends to eschew traditional leadership structures, one woman has created a group to bring them together and help them build their careers. Her name is Sarah Scudder, and her organization is Young Innovators in Print.

As the founder of Young Innovators in Print, Scudder has discovered strategies to interest and support the next generation who are excited about the print industry. Thanks to her and all the young people getting involved in print, the future is bright. Using her insider’s knowledge of the diverse printing world as President of Procureit5, Scudder has drawn an ever-larger group into the conversation.

Just what do young professionals in print bring to the table? Turns out, a lot. As digital natives, young printers tend to be innovative by nature in matters of online ordering and efficiency, two hot button topics for the industry. Through their natural comfort with e-commerce and ability to work with speed and agility, young people can reinvigorate their teams by bringing a fresh perspective on what keeps people engaging with print.

With e-commerce dominating the print world for the foreseeable future, these young people are well equipped to navigate high-volume projects and ensure the print industry continues to create groundbreaking work. And as they will make up 75% of the workforce by 2025, today’s young printers will be the ones leading the technological breakthroughs that allow better print practices.

There is so much young printers can do, and you can give them that guidance. Without educating the youth, there won’t be people to run our companies, innovate and ensure that our industry remains competitive,” says Scudder when asked about the driving force behind why she runs Young Innovators in Print. “A few years ago, I went to a conference. I was one of two females and the youngest by 30 years.”

That was the year 2012. After learning this was the norm, Sarah Scudder left the conference with a new mission: Engage young people and show how technological innovation drives business growth in all aspects of the printing industry. Thus, the Young Innovators group was born. The Young Innovators group embraces this future and makes print careers more accessible for the new generation and provides opportunities for those well-established in this field to teach up-and-comers the ins and outs of print.

With the Young Innovators Conference, hosted by the Print Services and Distribution Association, Scudder brings young professionals together to encourage, educate and support one another as they rise up in this $77-billion- dollar industry. The fourth annual conference was held this past June in Denver and drew nearly 200 printers under the age of 40 to engage in panels, competitions and networking. With a mission to educate and inspire, this year’s conference was a huge success and drew more people than ever.

With all the work of the Young Innovators, Scudder is gathering an ever-growing group of young people who have the drive and talent to be the future of the print industry. They embrace technology and are the best resource the print industry has to remain the powerhouse industry that it is today.

Youth and technology aren’t ending the print industry—they’re revolutionizing it. Young people know this fact instinctively. With nationwide chapters, it’s easy to get connected as a mentor or leader in Young Innovators. This group allows you to give the guidance that can help bridge the gap between the digital natives and seasoned printing vets. Get on a committee. Create change. Give back. The future of print is waiting.

Young Innovators has four committees you can get involved with.

Mentorship:  The mentorship team pairs someone who has less than five years in the industry with a print industry veteran. The program offers guidance, support and idea sharing across the industry, with benefits going to the mentors as much as the mentees. When asked about the success of the program Sarah says, “What we’re seeing is that mentors learn just as much from a mentee!”

Education: The education program puts on two to four programs a year to attract, hire and retain new printers. Educators host quarterly webinars or local events that feature content that helps young people get a leg-up.

Regional Events: In areas with higher print populations, such as San Francisco, Denver, Dallas, Chicago and Minneapolis (just to name a few), the events committee puts on events to expose young people to careers in the industry. Events are meant to be fun and provide valuable career opportunities.

Conference: The biggest Young Innovators in Print event of the year, this two-day conference is dedicated to get people under 50 together to talk about ideas, network and learn. This past year’s conference was held in Denver and featured workshops, panels, discussions, a dinner and even a “Shark Tank” style competition.

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