I have worked in the signage industry for more than three decades. For the last 16 years I have owned and operated two successful commercial signage companies in South Australia.
I have seen a lot of change.
Recently, whilst attempting to recruit new employees, I realized that the ‘signwriter’ has become trapped in time in an industry that has progressed in leaps and bounds by way of technology but has forgotten about improving its own image along the way.
Here we are in 2018, more visual and digital than ever. Signs have never played a more important part in branding and marketing the businesses of today.
So this got me thinking… what are my companies actually providing? In simple terms, they provide a product called signage (a collective term for signs) and here I am again trying to advertise online for a ‘signwriter’ – an ancient art as old as the Egyptians.
I shouldn’t be surprised then that employment websites like Seek and CareerOne don’t have an accurate category to list my job vacancies. I then started to wonder if my ad for an experienced ‘signwriter’ would attract someone without a reference from one of the Pharaohs. It’s an outdated description and perhaps that’s why no one suitable has applied for our positions.
My companies have progressed beyond just supplying signage but my employees are still misrepresented by the public as humble ‘signwriters’.
Designers, architects and building companies are all demanding so much more than just signage. We recognize and embrace their needs every day by providing visual solutions that bring that fresh modern branding to life and enhance creative spaces with architectural quality interpretation, yet we still can’t shake that ancient tag of ‘signwriting’.
I asked myself, why are the innovators, the leaders and the creative minds of my industry, happy to work and operate their companies with job descriptions suggesting products more at home in the last century than this one? Maybe we need to follow the lead of the humble garbage collector. Now there is some innovation – they have modernised their careers into Waste Management and Recycling.
The need for my companies to embrace the 21st Century is essential. Sure we
should remember and honour the legacy, the skills of the past, the real signwriters who over thousands of years perfected a craft and created an art form that only our modern industry with its digital technology could surpass.
The time has come for the so called ‘signwriter’ to pursue a much more modern role in the workforce of the 21st Century, something to build their business and careers on for another millennium – who knows it might even remove the industry from the skills shortage list.
So I put it out there to the young trades people of today who are looking for an exciting career in a thriving market, would you like to work in the signage industry as a ‘signwriter’ or does a career as a professional in Visual Marketing and Infrastructure sound more appealing?