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ACA announces Crane Operator Qualification Development Program

Crane Operator Qualification Development Program.

Crane businesses now have a great opportunity to start elevating and upskilling crane workforces with the Crane Operator Qualification Development Program, an initiative fully funded by the New South Wales Government and designed and delivered by Apprenticeship Careers Australia (ACA).

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What’s in it for you? 

ACA, CICA and the NSW Government’s mission is clear: Together, they aim to acknowledge the existing skills of crane operators and crews, while seamlessly recommending custom combinations of micro-credentials to further upskill. ACA understands the demands of the industry and has engaged Upright T&A to ensure the program causes minimal downtime while maximising skill levels and ensuring utmost safety.

The program is designed to recognise and enhance the existing expertise within the operational teams, and the collaboration with Sharon will ensure a holistic approach to skill development. Sharon brings a wealth of experience and industry insight to ensure this program works for individual crane businesses as well as the greater crane industry.

CICA’s CEO Brandon Hitch said the Crane Operator Qualification Development Program had plenty to offer the industry.

“The crane industry is inherently high-risk, requiring specialised skills and knowledge. Traineeships and innovative training opportunities like The Crane Operator Qualification Development Program play a crucial role in upskilling the workforce, which in turn ensures the sector’s growth, safety, and efficiency,” he said.

“By investing in traineeships, companies ensure a steady pipeline of qualified personnel. Upskilling staff is an investment in their own growth and competitiveness.

 “The Crane Industry Council of Australia (CICA) recognises the value of traineeships and strongly supports this initiative. CICA’s endorsement highlights the industry-wide acknowledgment of the importance of structured, formal training programs.

 “The involvement of the NSW Government in providing grants for upskilling underscores the seriousness with which these initiatives are taken. Government grants make it financially feasible for more businesses to offer traineeships, thereby expanding training opportunities. This government support not only alleviates the financial burden on businesses but also signals a commitment to the long-term development and safety standards of the industry,” Brandon said.

Sharon Pearce from Upright T&A is now based at home after 15 years of FIFO work as a crane operator and rigger with 25 years’ experience both onshore and offshore. She had this to say about the Crane Operator Qualification Development Program. 

“I have been wanting to see more female participation in our industry and I thought I would formally transition into the training sector. I was introduced to Apprenticeships Careers Australia during the launch of the CICA Diversity Committee function in Sydney earlier in the year. 

“It is a good pairing as I understand the nature of general crane hire and I am committed to seeing this initiative succeed. It is a big task, but it is exciting to be involved with a project from the ground up and there is much to do. 

“I am hoping to help the industry understand the difference between a High Risk Work Licence (HRWL) and a formal qualification, in this case the Certificate 3 in Construction Crane Operations. Each class of HRWL is just one Unit of Competency, it is a Statement of Attainment. The Certificate 3 Qualification in Construction Crane Operations consists of 23 Units of Competency. It provides a much broader understanding of our industry, encompassing everything from customer service, job planning, accident – emergency procedures, the maintenance of mobile cranes and of course, dogging and crane operator credentials,” said Sharon.

“As a traineeship, it would normally take two years to complete this qualification. We propose to get a qualification issued via a Recognised Prior Learning (RPL) model in your workplace and onsite. Being a pilot project, we are looking for experienced crane operators to (qualify for the) RPL. I believe most of the crane operators I meet already have most of these skills, but they are not documented. My challenge is to gather existing information from candidates and create assessment tools to capture the rest. Looking forward, this model would suit companies that want to take on trainees but can’t justify losing them for up to eight weeks to get them signed off in Sydney, which is currently the only place in NSW to achieve this. Our model would bring the assessor to you,” she said.

Tim Howden and his brother Bill live and breathe cranes. They grew up with their father running a successful crane business and both got their High Risk Work Licence (HRWL) for dogging at a young age. From there, they progressed and worked for various crane hire companies.

“We built our skillset and our licences as we went, and after many years of procrastination we decided to go out and have a crack at the crane business for ourselves and started Lake Macquarie Crane Hire. We pride ourselves on providing a professional service with trained staff,” said Tim.

“Over the years, I have seen that the industry lacks a structure for training with people able to go to private facilities and after a couple of weeks, they come out with a HRWL but with minimal experience. For this reason, I have decided to participate in Sharon’s training program for a Cert 3 certificate to help potential future trainees in our company, and also to help move the industry to a better form of licencing,” he said.

How does it work?
Phase 1:
ACA’s expert team will visit crane businesses on-site to compile evidence of the operational team’s existing crane operation skills. 

Phase 2:
They will assess evidence to recognise prior learning and expertise, formal and on-the-job, and align these to formal competencies.

Phase 3:
They will then map your
skills and gaps and recommend a custom combination of
micro-credentials to upskill
to Cert III.

How to get involved:

The Crane Operator Qualification Development Program is more than a program; it’s a strategic investment in the ongoing succesws of all crane businesses. It provides an opportunity to stay ahead, stay skilled and ensure operational teams are equipped for the challenges of tomorrow. 

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