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Collaborating to Make the Sign Industry Attractive to Young People

Let’s work together to secure the future of the sign industry.

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IN THE 1961 DISNEY film, The Parent Trap, twin sisters – both played by Hayley Mills – perform a song for their parents (Brian Keith and Maureen O’Hara), who had divorced shortly after the twins’ birth. Short of retelling/spoiling the entire movie – which was remade in 1998 starring Lindsay Lohan, Dennis Quaid and Natasha Richardson – the song, “Let’s Get Together,” serves not only as a celebration of the twins’ own recent reuniting, but also as a not-so-subliminal suggestion that their parents do the same. The song, the scene and both movies are a lot of fun, and, in fact, are quite meaningful to some people I know, who are the children of divorce and wished that same Disney magic could happen for them.

Recent events none of us has ever seen before got me thinking about this, and how I wish and hope our country can get together, get it together, get back together – if only for the younger people of our nation, who represent the future and deserve far better.

What can we do? Personally, that’s up to you. In our professional lives, we can work together to make the sign industry open, welcoming and attractive to all young people with talent and the desire to learn. Signs of the Times has already embarked on an initiative to help sign companies recruit and retain young employees, with a webinar, two previous contributions and one new column on this subject by Eric E. Larsen. The company Eric works for, Wagner Electric Sign Co. (Elyria, OH), is in the process of establishing ties with one or more local high schools in order to begin a summer apprentice program. In the coming months, we will have more information on how your company can start an apprenticeship program, too.

In those locations where the numbers of sign companies and high schools overlap – and there are many – those sign companies could work together to share and cooperate in this concept which, frankly, serves as a necessary step to begin simply to market careers in the sign industry to young people. Let’s try to focus more on clueing kids in than on worrying about training apprentices who may not stay. If your apprenticeship program works well, some will stay.

And some – more will emerge as rising stars, future winners, perhaps, of our annual Makers of Tomorrow Awards, which celebrates talent and vision in young signmakers.

We’ve got to think about the future – of the industry – not just of our own companies. If we cooperate in apprenticeships, our individual needs will be better met. We can do this. We must do this.

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“Let’s get together! What do you say? We could have a swingin’ time!”

Mark Kissling is ST’s Managing Editor. Contact him at [email protected]

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