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Essential skills profile

This profile contains a list of example tasks that illustrate how each of the 9 essential skills is generally performed by most workers in this occupation. The levels of complexity estimated for each task are ranked between 1 (basic) and 5 (advanced).

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Printing Machine Operators (9471)

This unit group includes workers who operate laser printers, computerized high speed colour copiers and other printing machines to print text, illustrations and designs on a wide variety of materials such as paper, plastic, glass, leather, and metal. They are employed in rapid printing services, commercial printing companies and in manufacturing and other establishments that have in-house printing facilities.

Reading Help - Reading
  • Read notes from customers in which they explain details of jobs that they are leaving at the printing house. (1)
  • Read electronic mail and memos dealing with changes in policy or advertising upcoming events. (1)
  • Read notes from copier technicians about the proper use of the machines. (2)
  • Refer to instruction manuals for machine use, repairs and maintenance. (3)
Document use Help - Document use
  • Read and interpret codes on tags or labels on the photocopier, toner cartridges, paper packages and other supplies. (1)
  • Read pricing lists which show the price of various quantities of copies, business cards or labels. (1)
  • Read and complete order forms, which record information such as the number of copies, type and size of paper and date of completion. (2)
  • Read charts to find how much of each primary colour is needed to create a specific colour of ink. (2)
  • Use tables to determine how long it will take to make a certain number of copies. (2)
  • Complete production sheets, to record how many sheets are used and how long the job took. (2)
  • Fill in invoices, bills of sale and delivery forms. (2)
  • Enter information onto computer entry screens or copier display panels. (2)
  • Refer to assembly diagrams, which appear in instruction manuals and on machinery. (3)
Writing Help - Writing
  • Write details of orders placed by telephone. (1)
  • Write notes to themselves to remember and record information such as the date of an order, problems encountered or special requirements. (1)
  • Complete order forms, invoices, bills of sale and production forms. (1)
  • Write care and shipping labels. (1)
  • Write notes to technicians about problems with printing presses, copiers and other equipment. (1)
  • Write notes or e-mail messages to co-workers to describe problems with machines or work to be done. (2)
Numeracy Help - Numeracy Money Math
  • May calculate the price of an order, including taxes and discounts. They may collect payment and make change. (2)
Scheduling, Budgeting & Accounting Math
  • Count and record waste copies for each copying job in order to account for all paper used. (1)
  • Schedule jobs to be done on the press, within the completion deadlines given to them by customers. Certain jobs are given priority due to their size or the length of the customer's relationship with the printing shop. (2)
Measurement and Calculation Math
  • Measure dimensions, when reducing or enlarging. (1)
  • Weigh and measure volumes of ink and chemicals, to reach the right ratio with other chemicals or water. (2)
  • Calculate how many pages can be cut from a full-size sheet of paper. (2)
Numerical Estimation
  • Estimate by sight how much stock is available and how much to order. (1)
  • May estimate the number of workers needed, depending on the amount of work currently in the department and the size and arrival time of the next batches. If they overestimate, the workers will lose some potential earnings as they are paid per piece completed, but they can easily be reassigned to other areas to redress this imbalance. (2)
Oral communication Help - Oral communication
  • Take simple telephone messages for co-workers and supervisors. (1)
  • Communicate with suppliers, delivery people and service repair people about problems with machines, maintenance or new products and to provide feedback on the performance of products. (1)
  • May give directions to other employees. (1)
  • Interact with customers to obtain details of work orders. (2)
  • Discuss the status of jobs and their priorities with co-workers prior to shift changes. (2)
  • Discuss ink mixes or colour-matching with co-workers. (2)
  • Interact with supervisors about orders, problems, specifications and quality issues. (2)
  • Participate in staff meetings to discuss production and service quality. (2)
Thinking Help - Thinking Problem Solving
  • Encounter paper blockages of the machine from time to time. The blockages must be cleared before printing can resume. (1)
  • Face scheduling challenges when many orders are due on the same date. They may examine the orders to assess which seem the most urgent and phone some clients to see if there is flexibility in the deadlines. (2)
  • May notice errors or omissions on the work order. They verify the information with the customer or the supervisor before proceeding. (2)
  • May have to deal with a machine breakdown. They determine the problem and either fix it themselves or call a technician. (2)
  • May notice that the printing quality is poor. They must find a way to correct it. (2)
  • May have to cope with dissatisfied customers. They suggest a solution, such as redoing the job or giving a rebate. (2)
  • May face unique problems made more difficult by strict deadlines. For example, a number of shells may have been printed and the plates set for customization when it is discovered that the photos to be inserted are all different sizes and don't fit in the space provided. They call in more staff and instruct them on how to meet the deadline. This involves shooting new plates and reducing photos. (3)
Decision Making
  • Decide if the colour on pages which have been photocopied matches the colour indicated on the machine's colour key chart. (1)
  • Decide if copies look good and adjust the machine accordingly. (1)
  • Decide the order for processing print jobs. (2)
  • Decide which machine to use for a particular job to get the best results. (2)
  • Decide if a job should be redone and how to redo it with the least waste. (2)
  • May decide on a price for a service that doesn't appear on the price list. (2)
Critical Thinking

Critical Thinking information was not collected for this profile.

Job Task Planning and Organizing

Printing machine operators organize their own work schedule, following a set routine. They make daily lists of tasks to be done, set priorities and decide which machines to use for each job. Daily planning is determined by the number of customers and the complexity and volume of the orders they place. The work plan is frequently disrupted by emergency orders.

Significant Use of Memory
  • Remember what they were doing on a job when they were interrupted.
  • Remember the mix of colours to program into the copy machine to obtain the degree of brightness that a particular customer wants.
  • Remember how unusual jobs, such as printing two-sided flyers with inserts, were done in the past in order to do similar jobs.
Finding Information
  • Refer to price lists for prices of items not generally requested. (1)
  • Look up and read specification sheets to verify information. (1)
  • Refer to work orders or call customers to get more information about an order. (1)
  • Refer to machine manuals to learn functions or to troubleshoot problems. (2)
Digital technology Help - Digital technology
  • Use other computer applications. For example, they may use computer-controlled photocopiers. (1)
  • They may type a note to a technician. (2)
  • They may use electronic mail (e-mail). (2)
  • They may design business cards. They may also use photo-correction, illustration or page layout software. (3)
Additional information Help - Additional information Other Essential Skills:

Working with Others

Printing machine operators mainly work independently or alone. They may co-ordinate their work with co-workers who work on different parts of the same project. They may work with a partner, for example, to perform maintenance functions. They are part of a team made up of other operators and supervisors.

Continuous Learning

Printing machine operators are expected to learn about the equipment they use and to continually upgrade their skills. They may attend seminars or training sessions to learn how to operate new equipment.

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