Old technology, lack of trained printers afflict publishing industry

Only a handful of printing and publishing companies in the Philippines have adopted the state-of-the-art technology of digital printing.

As a whole, the local printing and publishing industry uses outdated printing technology exemplified by reconditioned printing machines from Japan, the United States and Germany.

A reality check on the state of the printing industry in the Philippines as a promising service export, blasts the myth that the country, because of its rich pool of English-speaking and -writing journalists and editors, can be made the publishing hub of Asia after Hong Kong was absorbed by mainland China.

Another critical problem the industry has to overcome is the utter lack of school-trained technical workers and printing managers.

Antiquated technology and lack of schooled manpower in the printing side of the game have been identified as the biggest obstacles the domestic printing and publishing industry has to face in its bid to become more competitive in the age of information technology.

These are only some of the findings made by the a team of researchers from the De La Salle University’s Center for Business and Economics Research and Development which was commissioned by the Philexport -TAPS project to make in-depth studies on which of the different service industries in the country have the best chances of succeeding in the export market.

Printing and publishing was chosen for study because of the country’s large pool of news writers and editors who have joined the exodus of overseas contract workers as staff members of English newspapers in Singapore, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Malaysia, the US west coast and the Middle East.

In the local scene, the De La Salle researchers, led by Dr. Tereso Tullao, Jr., found out that only 73 publishing and printing companies found their way in the top 7,000 corporations. These are led by the Manila Bulletin the Philippine Daily Inquirer, Bustamante Press, the Directory Philippines Corp. and the Bookhaven, Inc.

Another 50 companies were found in the ranks of the next 5,000 corporations. Most of the printing outfits in the country were small and medium enterprises that employ less than 10 people and that use secondhand printing machines and cameras.

There were a total of 2,755 printing and publishing firms in 1995, the latest available figure, with three-fourths made up of small enterprises.

Some of the 73 big companies have adopted the IT-driven printing technology of the 21st century that feature scanners, digital cameras, desktop publishing, color management, computers and direct-to-press digital printing, digital proofing, and computer-to-plate systems.

The technology they have adopted has the capability to produce printed matters that equal, if not surpass, the printing quality of presses in Hong Kong and Singapore. It has sped up the printing process, improved printing quality and cut costs.

The rest has been left behind using the pre-digital age printing technology.

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