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Tasmanian printers expressed their frustration with government-funded print continuing to be sent to China rather than to local printers, at summits hosted by VMA in Launceston and Hobart.

Tasmanian summits: China, training and the hot topics
Tasmanian print summits: China, training and sales skills the hot topics

The Visual Media Association (VMA) worked with Tasmanian industry leaders across ‘in session’ meetings in the Apple Isle, working through the key needs of the industry.

Mercury Walch, Foot & Playsted, Flying Colours, Think Big Printing, Mark Media, Spicers and others all attended. Insights discussed focused on the need to retain all government print to be produced in Tasmania, improve the quality of training for the State, build HR/IR health check services, and arm printers with skills to sell print based on effectiveness and environmental credentials that are meaningful to customers.

Kellie Northwood, CEO of the VMA, and VMA Tasmanian board representative, Tony Bertrand, attended two sessions across the state – a lunch and learn session in Launceston and a breakfast boardroom meeting in Hobart. Bertrand committed to being present and bringing the voice of Tasmanian printers to the whole VMA board.

"It was a great two days, meeting and talking with members to hear about how the Association can deliver on local issues for our industry. I thank all who attended in both Launceston and Hobart and commit to bringing your voices to the national board," commented Bertrand, who is the head of marketing at Ball & Doggett. 

Specifically, the industry has outlined its concern around government grants and funding for printed books and material being offshored to China when funding is issued through third party sourcing models. This is not an area being experienced by Tasmania alone, as the VMA has long been lobbying the government across the $140m offshored government print work nationwide.

“There is simply zero justification for local, state or federal government monies across print procurement going to brokerage arrangements where the broker has print facilities or is offshoring through China or other countries for production. It is on the VMA’s radar, and we will action these concerns both state by state and federally. Government print work should be procured locally and ethically,” commented Northwood.

Skills & Training was a further key focus, with the Tasmanian leadership outlining concerns about the quality of training across the State, arguing it is at a low level, which is difficult, after working very hard to attract new talent, the training is considered so poor it is creating challenges for printers to retain new talent.

The expense of environmental and compliance certifications was outlined as an obstacle which printers, despite wanting to build strong environmental certification and policies, are often struggling to fund and resource.

“The two days in Tasmania were terrific, it was wonderful to work face to face with the industry, present solutions from when we met earlier this year and work through more challenges we can resolve. Since March when I first attended Launceston and Hobart working with member challenges, we have rebuilt Sustainable Green Print which is now being rolled out and expanded into signage, a true solution for our members to resolve their roadblocks across environmental certification.

In addition, the HR/IR Health Check is a new service we are rolling out to incumbent members and one which will ensure our members are the most compliant and secure companies in the industry across their HR/IR policies. On top of the work we’ve achieved, we can now take these additional insights and build deliverables to continue delivering and building the momentum for the Tasmanian cohort,” said Northwood.

A detailed action list has been distributed to the attendees, that the VMA has committed to delivering, with Bertrand and Northwood working hand in hand to open strong communication channels into the VMA Board.

“The absolute best part of my job is when I am sitting with members, assisting them to be more successful in their businesses. It truly is what gets me up in the morning and these insights from Tasmania give me a strong action list. I look forward to doing the same in Brisbane next month and the other states by the end of the year, the VMA is committed to delivering meaningful outcomes for our members and most importantly meeting the commitment – that VMA members are the most successful businesses in the industry,” concluded Northwood.

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