A worker shortage survey conducted last summer by the Associated General Contractors of America (AGC) found that 69 percent of the survey respondents said they were having a hard time filling hourly craft positions.
More specifically, the survey found that 43 percent of the respondents were having a hard time finding heavy equipment operators, including crane operators.
There are many possible reasons for this so-called "skills gap," including the retirement of Baby Boomers and the workforce attrition that took place during the Great Recession. However, one thing is apparent: many young people today are simply ignoring good job opportunities in the construction industry.
A Bold Initiative
Two years ago, the U.S. crane, rigging and specialized transport industry established a bold initiative to tackle the “skills gap.”
The industry created a careers promotion program called Lift & Move USA to highlight to school and college students as well as veterans the opportunities and rewarding careers available in the crane, rigging and specialized transport sector.
The program is run by the Specialized Carriers & Rigging Association (SC&RA), together with the SC&R Foundation, the National Commission for the Certification of Crane Operators (NCCCO) and publisher KHL Group.
Lift & Move USA organizes one-day events hosted by SC&RA members. Students from local schools and colleges spend the day at a facility and hear direct testimony from people in the industry about how they got into the sector, their personal achievements and the enormous rewards. Students also get to see equipment up close and can try out their operating skills using simulators.
Linking Theory with Application
So far, Lift & Move events have been held in Chicago; Houston; Graham, North Carolina; and Long Beach, California. This year will see a further four take place in Florida, Illinois, Indiana and Louisiana. The first will be in Tampa on February 14, hosted by ALL Crane.
"The events have been very well received," said Brett Melvin, executive director of Lift & Move USA. "More than 2,000 students and veterans have now participated in the program, with as many as 750 attending a single event."
Anetta Leone of the Long Beach Unified School District said the Lift & Move event held in Long Beach last December had a big impact on the students who attended.
“It’s linking theory with application, helping them see the relevance for industry of what they are being taught at school," she said. "It will help them to be college and work ready.”
"The program has made a great start," said Melvin. "However, it needs continual support from all of the industry's stakeholders if it is to continue and flourish.That support can take many forms, from donations of equipment and volunteering of staff, to assistance in providing speakers or other expertise.
"We hope that AEM members see the long-term benefits of the program for our industry and support the initiative in any way they can."
For More Information
For more information, contact Brett Melvin, executive director, Lift & Move USA (brett.melvin@liftandmoveUSA.com, tel: 703-608-3560) or Matt Burk, KHL Group, (firstname.lastname@example.org, tel: 312-496-3314), or visit www.liftandmoveUSA.com.