In this ‘Over the Skype’ session, Manager Advice, Marketing & Communication David Benoit of talks to Jacques Michiels of INKISH Benelux about the most recent developments in the graphic labor market in Flanders. Important and interesting topics that concern all Printers and graphic companies in Flanders include:

How to find or train operators for Web to print/digital printing machines/inkjet presses?

Impact of Covid19 on our graphics sector from a GRAFOC standpoint.
– Information from the sector regarding vacancies, possible upward or downward spiral with regard to employment and challenges for the sector.

What bonuses can a graphics company obtain for training Workers PC130 (sectoral training bonus)?

How do graphic training centers deal with the partial switch from traditional graphic (offset) machines to digital tools and production resources?

The various services and (subsidy) possibilities via GRAFOC to support the graphics industry.

And much more…
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In deze ‘Over the Skype’-sessie spreekt Manager Advies, Marketing & Communicatie David Benoit van met Jacques Michiels van INKISH Benelux over de recenste ontwikkelingen op de grafische arbeidsmarkt in Vlaanderen.

Belangrijke en interessante onderwerpen die alle Drukkerijen en grafische bedrijven in Vlaanderen aanbelangen en aan bod komen zijn onder andere:

Hoe vinden of opleiden van operatoren voor bv. Web to print/digitale drukmachines/inkjet persen ?

Impact van Covid19 op onze grafische sector vanuit standpunt GRAFOC.
– Info uit sector ivm vacatures, mogelijke op- of neerwaartse spiraal mbt tewerkstelling en uitdagingen voor de sector.

Welke premies kan een grafisch bedrijf bekomen voor opleiding van Arbeiders PC130 (sectorale opleidingspremie)?

Hoe gaan de grafische opleidingscentra om met de gedeeltelijke switch van traditionele grafische (offset)machines naar digitale tools en productiemiddelen ?

De diverse diensten en (subsidie)-mogelijkheden via GRAFOC ter ondersteuning van de grafische industrie.

En meer…
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Hi, I’m Jacques Michiels from INKISH TV Benelux and today we speak with, the training fund for the graphic industry in Flanders. Welcome to! So, as mentioned earlier, we are here in Flanders together with David Benoit of GRAFOC The Training Centre for the Graphic Industry in Flanders. And I want to say welcome David, here on our platform, at INKISH TV. Please introduce yourself. Yourself and GRAFOC and what you stand for. Hey, good morning. GRAFOC is the training fund, very specific for the print media industry in Flanders. We exist about 30 years. We are celebrating our thirtieth anniversary next year and we’re actually active in a few domains. And that goes from offering support to companies in connection with the training awards that we give. Support companies in their strategic HR. PrintmediaJobs is a concept that involves working around vacancies, monitoring the vacancies. As well as training jobseekers for certain vacancies or training in the workplace, internships, both for students and jobseekers. In addition, we have an extensive network. We are the point of contact for education and also conduct a number of studies.
Our main aim is to stay permanently up to date on trends, developments in the technical field, but also on what concerns employees, for example in the area of personnel policy. In any case, our goal is to actually be a kind of point of contact for both companies and employees, so that if they have any questions they can come to us. Yeah, super interesting. Because of course many people in the graphic industry and in Flanders probably know two familiar faces of GRAFOC. Because you yourself, David, and your colleague Herman Staes, are a bit like the flagships of GRAFOC. You’re frequently in the market. Now, of course, the Benelux at INKISH, perhaps an interpretation for the people, also in the Netherlands. GRAFOC can be compared to the GOC’s counterpart in the Netherlands. Of course not the same at all, but there are a lot of overlapping factors. And apart from that yes, that was quite a bit of a piece of work, of course, which GRAFOC stands for. So everybody knows it’s been there for quite some time. If I’m not mistaken: 2021 Next year you’ll celebrate its 30th anniversary and that’s quite a milestone. In that period you’ve already experienced a lot of graphic evolution and maybe you’ll elaborate a bit on that point? Perhaps we will come a little deeper into which persons, employees or group of blue-collar or white-collar workers within the sector you are focusing on. But maybe just as effectively… In those 30 years, you’ve seen a lot of evolution, and specifically to the evolution within the professional profiles… Because that’ s something you’re working really hard on, isn’t it? And intersectoral if I’m not mistaken. Given the new evolutions in the market in recent years. Everyone thinks about web-to-print, thinks about the digital revolution in the graphic industry in Belgium, the Netherlands or all over the world, of course. I suppose new profiles are needed, because the classic profiles of say 5 or 10 years ago are still up to date? Or how do you see GRAFOC then? You probably have a good view on that.
It’s true that they have to go to education or all negotiations with education, we as GRAFOC try to be the point of contact and therefore everything you say is true. So that’s why we conducted a study in 2016. The VLAMT study, ‘the VLaamse ArbeidsMarkt van de Toekomst’. In which we actually looked at which profiles will be needed in the future. That was a study together with education, with companies. So that was actually quite extensive and effective what you are saying is true. The technology is actually evolving faster than ever before. So it’s also logical that the profiles that are needed in the sector, that they evolve along with it and that those expectations also increase, change. Machines that become very Hitech, fully automated and keep in mind that the knowledge in the sector is and remains necessary anyway. But on the other hand, we also think that the people who are going to operate the machines are the actual operators who will do this together with, call it experts, who know the real refinements of printing, for example, and that those operators will assist in this. In recent years, we at GRAFOC, together with the Ministry of Education and other actors, have further shaped those profiles of the future. Yes, super interesting, especially since everyone in the graphic industry is obviously trying to attract the right profiles that are already scarce anyway. As long as I remember there are the most bottleneck professions in the graphic industry anyway. If I’m not mistaken. Or many of them at least. Very interesting what you say: That evolution. And everyone knows that of course and feels that on the shop floor. But they will actually become more operators as you call them, assisted by experts. Maybe we’ll take a brief look at it again. GRAFOC which, of course, also supports these training courses through various measures. Maybe more about that if you can give some explanation. But is the intention then to mainly train those experts, or more those all-round operators? Because if I understand it correctly, are these operators more like executive staff, while the expert is perhaps the adjuster on the adjuster of the machine’s specialist? So who’s it based on? Second point of the question, because (to be precise) GRAFOC is mainly working for the joint committee 130. Are the blue-collar workers for the white-collar workers at the moment? Maybe you can also discuss that a bit further on. Actually, at the moment you don’t serve the white-collar workers with GRAFOC yet. So which profiles qualify? The specialists or the executives.
That’s a lot of questions at once. It’s an and-and story, so on the one hand for the operators. On the other hand, I look at the experts. I put it all between air quotes, because it’s not good to constantly put labels on that or that group because it also depends on the business. In one company they choose operators and experts, another company only works with experts, if you can put it that way. It’s a bit of bending between the two. But as far as GRAFOC is concerned, I think it’s an and-and story. You have to train the all-round people who can operate the machine, but who also know a number of refinements. When you’re standing at the folding machine and you turn one button to the left and you don’t know what’s going on, and then you think “I’m going to turn to the right…”. This is not a good attitude, so there must be some basic knowledge. And besides that, if you think about digital presses, you can also train people further… Most of these operators are actually experts and they also have to achieve the necessary levels through training, often in the company but very often they also have to go abroad. As far as workers and employees are concerned. I think Belgium is one of the few countries where these statutes still exist. It’s true that GRAFOC first and foremost focuses on the labour market joint committee 130, which is laid down in collective agreements. But that doesn’t detract from the fact that we also cooperate with the sector fund of paper pack skills for paper and cardboard, and we do have contracts with Sevora as well. And it’s not always possible to draw that line, even though our core business is on it. But it is also true that in a number of professions, I think for example in prepress, in one company there are blue-collar workers, in another there are white-collar workers. That boundary is very thin, while they perform the same function, for example. We try to look as much as possible but the whole company within pc 130 to do the necessary actions for that. Maybe we should go in here a little further? Of course. We know what’s today. In five years, not that long, there will be another evolution. What do you think, mainly to finding personnel and also the evolution of digital technology? Everybody knows Industry 4.0 is very tough. Some have already taken advantage of it, others have not. What is your opinion of that? Where do you think this is going for the next five years? Within this and five years is a really difficult question, but a very important one. We have seen over the last ten years that the sector has evolved very rapidly. To give you an example: Ten years ago we organised an event, at the Eco Print Center in Lokeren, about ideas and e-books. That was ten years ago and I know that one of the speakers then had an iPad with him. Nobody had ever seen that, while an iPad is the most normal thing in the world today. So just to point out how fast all that is evolving. And we, too, do not have the expertise, not the truth. But we do see a number of trends. Certainly at the technological level, but also towards the companies. The shrinkage in the sector is still continuing. How unfortunate that is. Companies are merging more and more. There are companies that are shutting down their activities. Niches, packaging and labels are emerging and are doing very well at the moment. But I think that as a company, when you look to the future, you have to look at ‘what are my customer’s expectations’. You have to focus on the customer experience. Everything that is internet related. The web-to-print story. Look at that very carefully! And as a company you have to hold a mirror in front of you on a regular basis to see what is our state of affairs? Where do you want to go? Where do we want to be in five years and ten years from now? And perhaps even more important as a company: ‘do you make sufficient use of the know-how that is already present in your company?’. both and especially with your employees. There is a lot of knowledge and experience. But also of: ‘do you get all the potential out of the machines you currently have or not? And as you say: It’s gonna be looking at some factors like industry 4.0. It all seems a bit far away from our home, but maybe that’s a lot closer than we think. Digitization is in full swing. So as a company you have to work very hard on it. Also in function of the competencies of your employees. I think we’re still facing a shift from offset to digital. That’s very exciting. What, for example, are the developments in the newspaper market going to be? There are a number of factors that are still evolving at the moment. I’m also very curious about where we will be in 5 years, 10 years from now. I think a lot will change.
Perfect. I think everyone agrees, but if I understand correctly, also to, let’s say, further expertise or inquiries, research … that’s what you do in the market. Of course, that is always difficult to estimate, because often the questions or interviews you also conduct, it always dates back in time before it has all been processed. Now specifically to the new profiles we were about to have. Everyone involved in our sector is trying to attract the right profiles. I have recently seen various initiatives pass by. There are also companies that are indeed able to differentiate themselves through specialisation, as you said. Just think of Verstaete in Maldegem, which was in the media recently, where they create 45 jobs at a difficult time. So there are definitely positive stories to report. Now, I also think where new profiles are being created, or more IT-related profiles, knowing that the training centres are probably still mainly using classic offset equipment. How do you go or can you…? Do you have a role to play in that? How are you going to train the classic machines that are probably no longer entirely suitable for the digital profiles of new operators? There’s a gap. How will that be addressed? How is it going to be addressed? Can it be overcome at all? What is your opinion on this? Maybe you already have collaborations with digital machine constructors. How do you see the problem?
Well, what you’re quoting, that’s obviously been going on for over 15 years, I guess. Companies are indeed looking for the right employee, the more complete, the most complete, the most optimal candidate. That is also a story of sometimes looking for the white raven. That is not self-evident. On the one hand, we are faced with a considerable ageing within the sector. This means that between here and a number of years, a considerable amount of know-how will actually flow out of the companies. On the other hand, the inflow from education, for example, is still insufficient to counteract this grey outflow. So there’s actually still a gap there. And as far as I know, this has actually been the case for years. So that in itself is nothing new.
Over the past 20 years GRAFOC has invested 22 years in training centres in education, where both adults, jobseekers and students could use the machines that GRAFOC invested in education. That was actually very, very important to prepare all those target groups for work as well as possible. These machines, they are expensive, these investments are very expensive and the question is to what extent can all this be kept? That’s why we’re actually very much in favour of the story of dual learning when it comes to education at GRAFOC. So where you actually train both in the school, but even more importantly, send the students to the workplace in the companies. That they make contact with the companies and that they get in touch with the newest technologies, the newest machines. On the one hand, a basis in education is important, also in the VDAB training for job-seekers. But above all, we think that, either through dual learning or through internships, the students really send the jobseekers to the companies, that they come into contact with those with those hitech machines. For example, to invest digital presses in schools…
Difficult story?

That’s a very difficult story, I guess. On the one hand the machines themselves, but then I’m talking about the high-end digital presses. On the one hand you can ask the question: ‘Does such a machine have to be in a school or in a training centre? Ideally I would say ‘yes’, but of course it comes at a price. On the one hand the purchase of the machine or the rental of a machine, but also the maintenance costs. From GRAFOC it is our vision to invest in a number of very basic digital printers, explaining some basic concepts and the principle. Send apprentices, send jobseekers, send them to the companies where those machines are all present and thereby also establish the necessary contacts with the companies. Companies can see if there are potential employees in it. I think it’s a win-win situation that way.
Important point to create a win-win. It sounds like IBO like dual learning but I don’t think it’s the same.
No, no, there are two different things. Dual learning really does focus on students in education, a number of profiles have already been created there. And last year, the first courses were held there.
IBO is an employment measure, very specifically for jobseekers. So together with VDAB a good partnership in which we actually do the internship guidance for jobseekers in training. Both in the training centre, but we also have projects where we train jobseekers for a month in a company. Then, after that training, you can offer an IBO to those jobseekers as a company, where that person then continues his or her training in the company for three or four months (depending on). Interesting.
David, maybe to finish up, two more questions. One question, we can’t get out of it. The Covid story, of course. Everyone’s a bit tired of hearing it, but we’ve all been affected. Maybe depending on GRAFOC’s point of view. Because, I thought, at the beginning of the year you carried out a survey on the impact of Covid on the vacancies and the evolution of their impact. Could you explain that a bit more and could you also sketch it from April or May until now? Do you already have more information or more data about this? What is indeed the impact of Covid … we can not ignore. It’s true that we have been monitoring the evolution of vacancies for years through, I call it, our ‘brand’ PrintmediaJobs. In the course of the year we receive vacancies, we see vacancies, companies contact us for vacancies and we actually monitor them. And every year we produce a very concise report on this. In order to look at a number of trends of how many vacancies, which evolution compared to other years,…. This is an important indicator of how good or bad things are actually going in the sector. It is a very basic investigation. But, certainly not bad.
But indeed, in May we released a, call it a kind of intermediate score, to see what the impact of Covid is on employment, or even better on vacancies. And then the figures for 2020 showed that the year had finally started well. There were a lot of vacancies. But from March to May there was a very slight decline.
That is a snapshot. At that moment it didn’t seem so bad. In August we are going to do that again. Take another look at what the current state of affairs is at that moment and see if we can derive a number of evolutions from it, but of course we will still be very cautious. We have to, but we have to be very realistic. We also know that a number of companies… two of them are currently out of business. Is Covid the real cause of that? Maybe so, maybe not, but of course it doesn’t help. And we also hear from a number of companies that, unfortunately, they have to let people go and in that area, for example, we also offer outplacement to those employees. But on the other hand, I took a look yesterday: at the moment, before 2020, we already have 615 vacancies. Just like last year. That’s hopeful, isn’t it?

That’s hopeful. That’s vacancies, not just for pc 130, that’s wider. And the top three of them actually remain, just like the passing years, on one graphic designer. So that’s really an intersectoral profile, of course, but busier a printer. The two bottleneck professions that we are also going to define every year together with VDAB, those two professions are still the most sought-after. Interesting Benoit. Super interesting.
To maybe end on a positive note. When you get a premium, it’s always positive.
Maybe just for a moment. Companies can go to GRAFOC, depending on the size of the company, and projects and the like. And then they’re actually entitled to certain bonuses. Can you scale up what people can expect and how they can get hold of the bonus? Actually, as a PC-130 company, if you invest in the training of your employees, you only benefit by each working together with my GRAFOC. One of the things we offer are our training bonuses. Depending on the size of the company, these can actually run from 1,500 to 11,150 euros per year. These are already considerable concessions in which we try to support the companies for the investments they make in their employees. They’ re scaled up indeed. On the one hand, we are going to look at the size of the company. There are differences in this and on the other hand, companies can achieve four different levels. So from level 1 the basis (the basis of course every company has) we go to level 4, the highest. And how can they do that: If you as a company submit a training plan in the first half of the year, your annual maximum increases by 25 percent. Becoming a recognized internship company will increase you by another 25 percent. And as a last, fourth level, companies can also submit a file if they have given training in the company, as part of a unique, innovative or high-tech investment. So it does pay off to make a small effort. It is also worth noting that our bonuses can be combined with the SME portfolio. Can it be cumulated?

Yeah, it’s an and-and story. Also know that we work together with Sevora, the training fund for white-collar workers, so that our blue-collar workers can follow that training.
And maybe last, sometimes a little less known. But we also provide a number of training courses of our own, including mentorship (or Peter, and meterschap), back pain prevention, online video learning, and how surprising that might be: Typo-Truck and finishing is another training course we offer. That’s a very wide range what you stand for? David, thank you very much for the very interesting session. I think we learned a lot from it. If people want additional information about our conversation, for example, or if they want to see it on another media, can they contact you? Is that via Or how best to get in touch with you or your colleague’? Any question is more than welcome, we will be happy to help companies. They can surf on, or These are three websites that are in our portfolio. The easiest way to contact them is via Of course, they can always call us. This is often the quickest way.

Well David, thank you very much for this pleasant conversation.

Thank you also to INKISH.

And hopefully until very soon.

Thank you very much.

So was our conversation with GRAGOC. I hope you found it interesting.
I’ll see you for the next one.

David Benoit · Grafoc · Smart Factory Brea...

5 Oct 2020