Training The Next Generation of Printers

Finding tomorrow’s top printers requires your help.

Finding tomorrow’s top printers requires your help.

Johnny Shell is the vice president of technical services for SGIA. He can be reached at (703) 359-1319 or at

SGIA has always recognized the important role educational institutions play in providing a skilled workforce to the trade. Today, this is as important as ever. Educators are finding it difficult to keep pace with this ever-evolving industry due to constant advances in technology, dwindling resources and available funds for specialty imaging programs.

Printers in the apparel-decorating community can take an active role in supporting up-and-coming imagers by offering constructive opportunities, such as:

  • Plant tours for your neighboring college students, high school students, etc.
  • Participating at job fairs and specialty trade fairs
  • Offering internships or scholarships
  • Reaching out to local secondary schools via for employment opportunities.

Specialty imaging is everywhere – in our stores, on our highways, on walls and buildings, in our electronic devices and on the apparel we wear. It’s up to the greater garment-decorating community to help train and mold the workforce for the next generation.

SGIA is committed to developing and providing educational resources to the community – stimulating industry growth and advancement, reinforcing a sustainable future and ensuring a world-class industry workforce. Here are some of the ways we’re doing that, many of which you can be a part of:

Education Committee

SGIA has reinstated its Education Committee (which comprises printer, supplier and educator members) to supporting academic graphic communication programs. We currently offer screen-printing curriculum outlines for three various levels of education: Exploratory (to encourage learner interest), Secondary (high school or vocational) and Post-secondary (college, university or technical school). Newly developed technologies are changing how the industry operates, and we need to update curriculum outlines to reflect industry advancements.


SkillsUSA is a partnership of students, teachers and industry representatives working together to ensure America has a skilled workforce. Among many other things, it provides quality education experiences for students in leadership, teamwork, citizenship and character development. SGIA is working with SkillsUSA to ensure its screen printing and graphic imaging competitions align with industry practices so future employees have a stronger skill set to meet industry demands.

Online Tools

Educators within the specialty imaging industry are finding it exceptionally difficult to keep up with new technologies due to costly equipment. SGIA member businesses continue to offer discounts on both equipment and supplies exclusive to the educator community. To foster this support, SGIA is currently developing an online forum to better facilitate these offers solely for the SGIA educator member. SGIA is also developing an employment and internship page on our website. The best way to learn the trade is through hands-on, real-world experience, and we’ll help you find capable students.

“It’s up to the greater garment-decorating community to help train and mold the workforce for the next generation.”

Awards and Recognition

Graphic instructors who hold an SGIA Educational Membership are invited to submit samples, on behalf of secondary and/or post-secondary students, to the annual Tom Frecska Student Printing Competition. This award is highly sought after by graphic arts students around the globe. A Best of Show award will be given to one secondary and post-secondary entrant, awarding $500 to both the student and the school to put toward their specialty imaging programs. All entries are displayed to industry leaders from around the world at the annual SGIA Expo.


Financial support, or lack thereof, can be a determining factor in deciding whether to continue one’s education. Therefore, SGIA will be developing undergraduate scholarship assistance to talented men and women. Research and development of a scholarship is currently ongoing; further details will be announced as they become available.

Education can’t be addressed by one organization alone. SGIA will continue to support the efforts of the organizations mentioned, as we all share a common goal in advancing and assisting the continued growth of the specialty imaging industry.