July 28, 2023
With a shortage of expert skills in the labor market being one of the current megatrends most severely affecting the packaging sector, the need to support the future of the industry has never been as important.
Esko continues to foster its long association with educators that teach and train the next generation of packaging professionals, with the company’s Studio software being used by students at ZUYD Hogeschool, Maastricht - a graphic arts/media education university in The Netherlands - to design and submit their designs for the recent European Packaging Design Association (EPDA) Design Awards.
“The EPDA has a longstanding connection with Esko, which is an extremely important relationship,” said Rob Vermeulen, Strategic Designer and lecturer with the EPDA. “It was interesting to see that in the recent competition – in which the brief was to deliver ‘fair packaging for fair brands’ - the winners in all categories had been working with Esko Studio to design and submit their entries.
“Both teaching students on one side, and responsible for the university on the other, we work with design courses at institutions across Europe, including in the UK, Italy, France and Germany,” said Rob. “We see first-hand how Esko Studio is used in design and design communication.”
“We teach the students that a design starts in your head, and not the computer, then we use the technology to actually optimize a design – and Studio provides the tools to do that more efficiently,” he said. “The technologically advanced software delivers benefits in the process of designing, enabling the fledgling designers to see immediately the impact of any tweaks and changes they make on-screen, so they can document the whole process of design as part of their learning. Being able to see the sequence leads them to question, ‘why make this choice?’ which is very useful and interesting for teaching.”
Rob said another benefit to the students is in the realization of designs without wasting materials. “We’re able to have less physical packaging on display, and more digital models. In terms of sustainability, one of the biggest pollutants is ink, but with these digital solutions we can either choose to make only a digital model, or indeed use the technology to optimize the design for reuse and recyclability from the start,” he said.
The three winning designs of the recent EPDA Awards will be on display at the Touchpoint Packaging booth at drupa 2024 – where technology and sustainability inform each other. “The results of what designers do are now more impactful than just how it looks,” added Rob. “This is a big shift for dedicated packaging designers. Esko Studio not only helps teach the students how to use technology to make a good design, but also to be more embedded in the whole process. The students can also actually see their packaging on shelf at the design stage, which is important for them when they’re showing the design to the buyers.”
Rob said the ability to use the Studio technology was incredibly useful for designers before embarking on their own careers in the industry. “Around 50 years ago, my own first job in packaging was creating a mineral water bottle,” he said. “I soon discovered that as far as all designers at the time were concerned, the color blue stands for ‘still’ water. It was only through using our own creative instincts that we were able to crack the code and be more creative – and Esko Studio gives packaging design students the tools to do that for themselves. They use this in the last year of their curriculum, so when they leave and actually start working in the field, they are familiar with the capabilities of Esko tools.”
Jan De Roeck, Esko Director of Marketing, Industry Relations & Strategy, said the company was proud to support the packaging designers of the future through a combination of software licenses and guest lectures at the schools. “As technological advances lead to changes within the sector, we believe it’s vitally important that the industry supports the education and training of young people as we drive to both address skills shortages and also develop and inspire the packaging heroes of the future,” he said.
“Our work with EDPA and commitment to students around the world ensures that the next generation of packaging workers are familiar with the latest solutions that are utilized around the world to manage packaging and print processes, enabling them to be truly ready for work and have the skills required to enter the sector.
“This is a part of our long-term contribution to providing the best technology to the industry so that these students can be the packaging heroes of the future,” he said.