New printing institute formed in Pa.

August 09, 1999|By DON AINES

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. - From the Shenandoah Valley in Virginia to the Cumberland Valley in Pennsylvania, dozens of printing and publishing businesses face a shortage of trained employees, according to Franklin County Area Development Corp. Executive Director L. Michael Ross.

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Frisco W. Short and Ted F. Rabold plan to help fill that gap with the RSI institute for the Graphic and Printing Arts, a for-profit school. The first class begins Aug. 16 in space leased from the Franklin County Career and Technology Center, 2463 Loop Road.

"The printing and publishing industry is one of the strongest industries in this region, and oftimes overlooked," Ross said.

There are more than 90 printing and publishing companies employing several thousand people along the Interstate 81 corridor, he said.

Phoenix Color in Hagerstown, and Quad Graphics in Martinsburg, W.Va., are two of the area's largest employers, Ross said.

The demand for trained printers is such that another training institute was recently established in Shepherdstown, W.Va. It is affiliated with Shepherd College, Ross said.


"There's so few places where a kid can go out of high school, or even an older person, and learn about the graphic and printing arts," said Short, who once owned a printing company in Colorado Springs, Colo.

RSI will offer a six-month course in basic and intermediate graphic printing skills, along with classes in desktop publishing and customer service.

The tuition for the graphic printing arts course is $7,500, but some students are eligible for federal and state grants. Franklin-Adams Job Training Consortium Executive Director David Bumbaugh said about $150,000 is available to displaced workers at Letterkenny Army Depot, another $140,000 for people in the state's Welfare to Work Program.

The printing and graphic arts course includes a one-month classroom introduction to printing, followed by two months of hands-on training in the Career and Technology Center's print shop.

Rabold, who retired in June after 18 years as superintendent of the Tuscarora School District, said students will spend three months in an apprenticeship program with local printing companies.

During that time, half the wages of qualified trainees will be paid by Job Training Partnership Act funds, according to Bumbaugh.

Career and Technology Center Director Dalton Paul said his school produces about a dozen graduates from its printing course each year, not enough to fill the demand.

Short said graduates from RSI will receive certificates defining their level of competency. State accreditation and cooperation with local college continuing education courses are in development, he said.

Institute Director Rabold said he and Short, who is RSI president, know each other from church and developed the idea for RSI after learning about the shortage of trained printers.

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