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The case for a better training model

CICA provides an overview of why there is a need to train crane operators to futureproof the industry and the training available out there.

The construction sector is a cornerstone to the Australian economy and crane operators are front-and-centre of major construction projects. Skills development in construction workers underpins this productivity. If workers are skilled, they are safer, more efficient and can mentor others.

CICA held a trainee Information Evening which was held in the Novotel, Rooty Hill, NSW in late November. Presentations covered the need to train crane operators necessary for replacing an ageing workforce and to ‘future-proof’ the crane industry.

The why?

In the mid-2000s, the Occupational Health and Safety Regulators privatised the training and assessment of High-Risk Work Licenses. At the same time, the practice of using a log book to document work experience was abandoned. Whilst this was done with the purpose of making training accessible, it had unintended consequences resulting in High-Risk Work Licence courses of varying quality, no minimum course length, predictive testing, and minimal oversight of the training organisations.

The construction industry is key to the Australian economy – it contributes to Australia’s economic output and the productivity of the construction industry is a crucial factor for meeting Australia’s infrastructure targets. Crane operators are front-and-centre of major construction projects. Skills development in construction workers underpins this productivity.  If workers are skilled, they are safer, more efficient and can mentor others.

Another issue that impacts the skill set of crane operators is the fact that the workforce is ageing with a large proportion of Crane Operator, Dogging and Rigging License holders retiring in the next 10 – 15 years.

Training and technology

To train crane operators necessary for replacing an ageing workforce and to ‘future-proof’ the crane industry, a Traineeship model is favourable because it provides a responsive training program without sacrificing education quality. By combining the Certificate III in Crane Construction Operations with hands-on training on worksites and in the yard, the Trainee is equipped and empowered with skills in lift planning, business operations, crane scheduling and other skills that they can leverage off to forge an exceptional career.

Technology makes it possible for the construction industry to be more productive with less. An exciting prospect for today’s Trainees is that they will see technology embed itself into the construction industry in ways that are inconceivable to many in the industry today. For technology to drive productivity, there will be a growing need for people who are skilled with this technology. Changes to prefabrication, materials, the use of virtual reality and robots in construction and crane operations are all going to require technological skills and literacy.

The NSW Traineeship Information Evening

More than fifty people attended the Trainee Information Evening in Rooty Hill, NSW. The number of people present reflected the tenacity of those in the crane industry – the prospective trainees had passed the first test in persistence just by getting there safely.

Andrew Esquilant opened the evening with his own testimony about his humble beginnings as a dogger in the Crane Industry, to now being the General Manager of Liebherr Australia Mobile Crane and Crawler Division. He challenged and encouraged prospective trainees to be proactive in seeking out opportunities.

Danny Adair, as a representative of Two-Way Cranes, shared his experience and expanded on the great mentoring relationships he has with current and former trainees. Danny encouraged anyone who is prepared to work hard, to make the most of their excellent prospects in the crane industry. Corey Davies, one of Danny’s former trainees and former winner of the CICA Trainee of the Year Award, also spoke highly of his experiences. Greg O’Neill from TAFE, NSW gave an overview of what the Certificate III in Construction Crane Operations entails and Eric Milne from AiGroup spoke to the positives and requirements of on-the-job training.

Collaborative effort

The Trainee Information Night was a collaborative effort, and similarly for crane operating skills to be developed and fostered in trainees – co-operation is required from many stakeholders. The crane industry needs to get behind this initiative by encouraging young people or people looking for a career change, to view this industry as an attractive career pathway. For more information about the Certificate III course, or in employing a trainee, please contact Heidi at CICA.

For more information and to register, head to the CICA – The Crane Industry Council of  Australia Facebook page

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