Although her flair for craftsmanship was not born in her cradle, Moana Linder found her way into the graphic arts industry. In the following blog, the 16-year-old first-year apprentice print media processor specializing in binding technology tells us why she likes her job at Schär Druckverarbeitung AG in Wikon in the Swiss canton of Lucerne so much and which classic (paper) method she uses when learning for vocational school.
"Is this something for women?" I often hear this question in my circle of friends when my female colleagues find out that I work in the graphic arts industry. They often react astonished because they hardly know this industry, and I have to explain it to them.
To be honest, a year ago, I didn't know about print shops and finishing operations either. My father is a machine mechanic, but I only found my way to machines indirectly. When I was looking for an apprenticeship in the summer of 2019 after finishing compulsory school, I had anything but the graphic arts industry in mind.
Every day offers something new
I chose to work as a retailer, and I worked in the logistics department of a major distributor, where I first came into contact with machines. However, the apprenticeship did not suit me, so I decided to stop.
But I really liked it when I was allowed to spend a week at Schär Druckverarbeitung AG in Wikon. I was immediately taken with the pleasant, informal working atmosphere and the diversity of the work – every day offered (and still offers) something new. I didn't know the company before, although I live in the same village (and therefore have a short commute to work).
We are a good team
"This is it," I said to myself because the chemistry was right from the beginning. Since my parents and my best colleague also motivated me to learn this profession, I started my training as a print media processor specializing in binding technology – which used to be called a somewhat simple industrial bookbinder – last August. At Schär Druckverarbeitung AG, we have five bookbinding apprentices – two each in the first and second year of training and one in the third year of training, and we have excellent contact with each other.
Every day I feel that Schär Druckverarbeitung AG is a family business. The way we deal with each other is extremely collegial. You also have fun sometimes – even during the breaks. In short: we are a good team. That was completely different at the major distributor, where things were much more anonymous.
At the moment, however, the mood in the company, and especially in the vocational school, is somewhat depressed because of the Corona pandemic. Wearing a mask, the whole day in the warm company is necessary, but annoying.
The flair of craftsmanship discovered late
I didn't really bring a flair for craftsmanship to my job. On the contrary: design and handicraft were not among my favorite subjects at school. I only discovered my skills in this area at a late stage. And so, I was soon able to do a lot of work on my own – especially setting up the folding machines, for example. It's a challenge, but I like it. And I'm already looking forward to working on the big machines like the four saddle stitchers from Muller Martini later on.
With machine operator Agon Vaseli, I have a vocational trainer at my side, with Raffi Bättig, a senior, and with Marko Marinovic, a junior, who is also in his first year of apprenticeship. I get a lot of tips and tricks from them. In our company, the four-eye principle always applies to all processes to ensure that nothing goes wrong. For example, if I set the folding machine incorrectly, an entire job could be lost.
No fixed career plan
Theory comes to practice. In the first and second year of my apprenticeship I attend the Schule für Gestaltung in Bern two days a week. In the third year of apprenticeship, it will be one more day a week. In addition to the classic vocational school subjects, in the first semester – accompanied by the teachers – we get to know the various machines and processes such as folding, trimming and saddle stitching as well as the different types of paper.
It's hard to say at the moment whether I'll stay in the graphic arts industry after completing my apprenticeship. I have a few ideas, such as becoming a flight attendant, and one day I would certainly like to start a family. But I don't have a fixed (career) plan at the moment.
I learn in the classic way with flashcards
Of course, the graphic arts industry has seen better times, is no longer considered a booming industry and is therefore no longer considered particularly sexy, especially by the younger generation. But I am fascinated by my job – especially the production processes involved in turning a stack of paper into a finished print product.
Admittedly, I personally prefer to read from electronic media. But every now and then I take a printed magazine to hand. And at school, of course, we mainly use printed documents. I can fully confirm the findings gained in studies that one can learn better from paper than from a tablet. I learn exclusively from paper and with index cards – in other words, in the classic way.
For me there is no question that there will always be printed products. But it seems equally clear to me that print will continue to come under pressure in the future. To ensure that people continue to read printed products, special, attractive products are needed, such as those we manufacture here at Schär Druckverarbeitung AG.
Moana Linder, apprentice print media processor specializing in binding technology at Schär Druckverarbeitung AG in Wikon (Switzerland)