Tag Archive for 'skilled labor'

National Crane Academy Prepares Students for Future as Certified Crane Operators

By Jessica Hoover

            The National Crane Academy (NCA), located in Gardena, California, trains individuals to receive their NCCCO (National Commission for the Certification of Crane Operators) certification. Since the school’s inception, around 300 students have earned their certification, which is recognized in the Unites States, Canada, and parts of Mexico. 

            When Owner and Manager of NCA, Payam Dehesh, began the school in 2013, he said he wanted to help his students find their dream and make it a reality. Dehesh immigrated to the United States from Iran in 2008 to pursue his own dream of working with trucks and cranes, and after achieving his goals, he started NCA to help others do the same.

“I say, ‘God Bless America’ to my friends all the time,” Dehesh said. “I say it from my heart because I’ve seen what it’s like on the other side of the sea. There are big opportunities here. There are opportunities here that you cannot find anything close to on the other side of the sea. I always tell American citizens when they come to the school and to the work site, ‘You are blessed that you were born in this country. Don’t take it for granted.’”

Crane Skills Training

The main focus of NCA is to teach students about safety on the job site and how to operate different types of cranes, including the swing cab and the fixed cab telescopic boom cranes. Dehesh said that in a swing cab crane, the operator sits inside the cab and it swings at the same time that the cab is swinging. In a fixed cab crane, the operator sits somewhere fixed that is not going to swing with the crane.

            “The certification helps any person that comes to this course,” Dehesh said. “They learn about the safety on the job site, where they can use the cranes, where they cannot use the cranes. Those factors are important so everything is safe, and safety is critical. We show them the dangers and the hazards and what they should be looking for to get the job done and go home safe.”

             Students at NCA have the option of taking three courses: the Certification Course, Full Training, or Recertification. The Certification Course is aimed at students who are experienced in crane operation and includes two days of training in a professional college setting, crane operator certification written exams, and all practical exams. The Full Training includes everything from the Certification Course, along with 10 hours of hands-on training on the cranes. The Recertification extends a student’s certification after it has expired. The students have two days of classroom training before retaking the written and practical exams.

 “We want to give students the tools and basic knowledge to go to the field, stay safe and start working,” Dehesh said. “Every day they learn something new, so this is just the starting point. And we support them, if they need something they can just call and ask.”

Helping to Meet Demand

            After a student gets their certification, NCA also helps with job placement. Four out of five graduates are working in 30 days or less after course completion and certification.

“Since the industry is growing right now, there is a lot of demand for crane operators,” Dehesh said. “Also since we know so many people in the crane industry, if a student is looking for work, we put them in touch. The companies know they are new so they go through kind of a training process where somebody is going to be with them until they get the whole training done.”

            Former NCA student Cheri Kuchinski earned her certification in 2014 and went on to work on cranes for one of the largest oil companies in southern California.

            “Since I was a child, I was the type of girl that would play in the dirt, the tomboy,” Kuchinski said. “I would work in my dad’s garage in his workshop, and I worked with my hands. I always enjoyed it.”

She had been in the gas and oil field since 2004, but decided she wanted to make the change from a desk job to operating cranes for both a change of pace and financial reasons. On average Certified Crane Operators with a Class A license make between $92,400-$210,000 annually.

“At 46, I decided I wanted to get a crane license and change gears altogether,” Kuchinski said. “I recommend NCA to any student at any age. Even if you don’t have a steady hand, you learn how to manipulate your load. You learn how to rig them up together so that it’s balanced. You always have a spotter, and you do it the safe way. You can definitely do it.”

Dehesh was Kuchinski’s instructor during her time at NCA, and she said he was very patient and willing to go over any information she did not catch on to right away.

“I would definitely go back and take Payam’s class all over again because the class was wonderful,” Kuchinski said. “It wasn’t too big. He would stop in the middle of the class and explain something if you didn’t understand.”

            After earning her certification, Kuchinski was interviewed and tested for a roustabout position at Tidelands Oil Production Company, which is owned by Oxy. She tested into the top two out of 100 applicants and was hired.

            “After my interview and some waiting, I got on as a roustabout, which is working in the oil field doing maintenance on the big equipment and changing valves,” Kuchinski said. “It’s a lot of dangerous stuff, but one of the main things is that I was able to hop on the crane and work it. … NCA gave me confidence that, as a female, I can go out and do anything. Just by being able to work a crane, you go out in the field and learn that you can do all sorts of other things. I would send pictures of me on the crane or a tank to my granddaughters and say, ‘Girls can do anything if they put their mind to it.’”

            The cost for the courses at NCA is $1,997 for the Certification Course, $2,997 for the Full Training, and $997 for the Recertification. The next available courses are from April 27-29 in Gardena, California. NCA will also travel to companies to certify employees at their location. To enroll, go to nationalcraneacademy.com/courses/.

This feature appeared in the April 2020 issues of the ACP Magazines:

California Builder & Engineer, Construction, Construction Digest, Construction News, Constructioneer, Dixie Contractor, Michigan Contractor & Builder, Midwest Contractor, New England Construction, Pacific Builder & Engineer, Rocky Mountain Construction, Texas Contractor, Western Builder

Why Recruit Veterans

Beyond Workforce Development, Workforce Solutions

by Julie Davis,

Association of Equipment Manufacturers Director of Work Force Development.

Are you tired yet of pulling from the same employment pool? If the answer is yes, then you are ready to explore the new world of veteran recruitment. If you think that you’ve tried it, it doesn’t work for you or there is no one to recruit in your area, then you simply aren’t up to date. 

Why recruit Veterans?

Many companies find veterans to be more productive employees with lower turnover rates when compared to their nonveteran counterparts. Additionally, their past military background can give veterans distinctive capabilities and perspectives that can add insight and diversity to your team’s problem solving. Employers can also qualify for up to $10,000 in federal tax credits per veteran. 

There are multiple state and federal organizations that exist to connect employers with veterans. Many of them work with veterans before they leave active duty to ensure they have skills that can plug immediately into the workforce. Furthermore, just because you may not have a military base located near you is no longer a reason to exclude veterans from your search. Organizations looking to place veterans into employment include working to get veterans back to their home states if that is what they are looking for. Taking a few extra steps could mean providing a veteran the opportunity to truly come home.

Veteran Retainment

Approximately 40 percent of veterans leave their first job out of the military within a year of being hired. The transition can be challenging but there is some common sense, yet very real ways that you can position your company to retain your veterans. 

First, define what your motivation is to hire veterans. Then identify what skills, attitudes and experience would benefit your organization the most. (If you are not sure, simply find your best current employee in that position and identify their skills, attitudes and experiences.) 

Decide what a successful veteran hiring program for your organization looks like. Are you looking for just one or is this going to become a regular program? 

Identify the service branches, ranks and occupational specialties you might like to target. Don’t know? That’s okay because there’s multiple ways to connect. You could reach out to your state or local Veteran’ office and talk with someone or here are some great website you can connect with:

Understand the basics
https://content.iospress.com/articles/work/wor01987
(A brief introduction to military workplace culture)  
https://www.va.gov/VETSINWORKPLACE/docs/em_termsLingo.asp 
(Common Terms) 

Difference between the branches 
https://www.va.gov/VETSINWORKPLACE/mil_structure.asp

Difference between officer and enlisted ranks 
https://www.va.gov/VETSINWORKPLACE/docs/em_rank.asp

Civilian to Military Occupation Translator
https://www.careeronestop.org/BusinessCenter/Toolkit/civilian-to-military-translator.aspx?frd=true

While building your veteran’s program, don’t forget to tap into your secret weapon – any veterans you are currently employing. Get their thoughts about skills and areas of service that might be a good fit. Don’t forget to ask them what about working for your organization might appeal to a veteran. After all, they have stayed with you! 

There are multiple employment organizations that will connect you with veterans. A few of my favorite include:

Hero’s MAKE America (Provides 10 weeks accelerated skills training for manufacturing)http://www.themanufacturinginstitute.org/Initiatives/Military-and-Veterans/Heroes-MAKE-America/Heroes-MAKE-America.aspx 

Hire a Hero
https://www.hireheroesusa.org/hire-a-veteran/ 

Bradley-Morris, Inc. (Specifically for Skilled Technicians)
https://www.bradley-morris.com/military-recruiting-firms/field-service-technician/

Orian Talent
https://www.oriontalent.com/military-job-seekers/enlisted-technicians/

Lastly, don’t forget that to retain your veteran, you may want to consider having some supports in place to make their transition smooth. Connect them to existing veterans in your workplace, let them know about opportunities for professional growth and advancement, and consider engaging current veterans in creating the program to ensure its effectiveness. 

Veterans who are coming out of service where they have worked with heavy equipment may be a perfect fit for the construction, agriculture, mining, utility or forestry industry sectors. Don’t let taking a few extra steps keep you from your next best hire.

AEM Reports on 3 Keys to Closing the Construction Skills Gap

3 Keys to Close the Construction Skills Gap

In the U.S., and globally, skilled jobs are the hardest to fill, according to Manpower Group.

That’s no surprise to construction companies. However, if it’s difficult now, what can contractors expect to deal with a decade from now?

Companies unwilling or unable to effectively attract, engage and retain their workforce will pay the consequences in the not-so-distant future (a future that can include going out of business).

“The onus is on companies now to actively engage employees,” says Ethan Martin, consultant and executive coach at Integrated Leadership Systems. “If employees don’t like it somewhere, they’ll just leave.”

Martin shared action steps for contractors through the Association of Equipment Manufacturers’ (AEM) CONEXPO-CON/AGG 365 initiative (http://www.conexpoconagg.com/subscribe/).

1. Make an Attitude Adjustment

Successfully tackling workforce engagement necessitates a shift in both attitude and strategy for many construction companies.

“Employees are changing, the world and the market is changing. (Companies) have to be willing to face that reality, and it’s not for better or for worse, it’s just different,” says Martin.

Co-workers talking at construction site with bulldozer behind them

Successful workforce engagement activities are interconnected with other organizational aspects.

“As long as workforce engagement is viewed as something separate, it becomes the uninteresting piece, or something like a task or a responsibility, rather than just being incorporated into what’s being done,” says Martin.

2. Tomorrow Is Too Late: Commit the Time and Resources Now

Companies often cite a lack of time and resources as a reason why they fall short in employee engagement efforts.

Measurable progress takes time, and the majority of workforce engagement efforts do not yield results for years.

Martin relays that one organization he works with recently began reaching out to high school students and collaborating with local career centers; company leaders understand they won’t see the fruits of their hard work for at least two to four years.

“However, this company is doing this now, so when the lack of skilled labor is even more of an issue in the future, it will have built up its reputation as the go-to employer in the area,” Martin notes.

Cost concerns serve as another common reason for not engaging employees consistently and effectively. However, contractors must recognize employee investment as being critical to organizational success.

“Too many companies fear investment in current employees or future employees, even to the point where they actually end up losing them,” says Martin. “The investment, as it turns out, would have cost them less than replacing the employee.”

3. Hire for Character First

Much is made about attracting the workforce of tomorrow. Construction companies looking to engage with young people need to explain better the value of a career in the skilled trades.

Convey the significance of the work they’re doing, why it matters. “It puts the focus back on the mission, and millennials want to make a difference,” says Martin.

If there is one piece of advice Martin would give a construction contractor when looking to hire a young worker is hire for character.

“The way we find and train people, you can teach anyone to do anything if he or she has good character,” says Martin. “And if the good-character employee actually moves on at some point, you won’t be left in the lurch because the person won’t just up and leave in the middle of a big project.”

A female construction worker stands behind a builder’s level on a building site .Behind her a co-worker walks across the development .

The construction industry will continue to evolve, and the needs of contractors will change with it. As a result, it is critical for organizations to be able to connect with the workforce of tomorrow, inspire them to strongly consider a career as a skilled worker and, perhaps most importantly, develop them into qualified employees.

Learn more about industry trends and technologies through AEM’sCONEXPO-CON/AGG 365 initiative (https://www.conexpoconagg.com/subscribe/).

ABC Celebrates Careers in Construction Month

1291931420843794287$1.1 Billion Invested in Workforce Development Annually

Associated Builders and Contractors (ABC) is celebrating Careers in Construction Month this October by recognizing the investment its members and chapters make each year to attract and train the construction workers of the future. ABC member firms spend $1.1 billion on workforce development and train approximately 476,000 construction industry professionals annually.

“The construction industry continues to offer excellent career opportunities for millions of Americans, and we are very proud of the investment our members make in developing the workforce of the future,” said ABC Vice President of Environment, Health, Safety and Workforce Development Greg Sizemore. “Our industry has a well-documented shortage of skilled workers despite well-paying jobs, rising wages and entrepreneurial opportunity, and that’s a message our chapters, members and training partners are delivering to high schoolers, college students, adults whose jobs were lost to the recession and anyone else looking to make a smart career move.”

The Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts that we will need 1.6 million new construction workers by 2022 due to growth in the industry combined with an aging workforce. Already more than four in five ABC members say they are facing a shortage of skilled labor.

“Construction is among the few industries someone can enter as an apprentice, get paid to learn career skills on the job, and then work their way up to owning their own business,” said Sizemore. “In fact, the opportunity to continue to grow within the industry was one of the biggest reasons a survey conducted earlier this year found construction professionals were happier than employees in any other industry. Careers in Construction Month is a great time to tell this story and highlight our members’ impressive investment in training.”

ABC is working to address the worker shortage through more than 800 apprenticeship, craft training and safety training programs set up by its chapters around the country. The Trimmer Construction Education Foundation, ABC’s nonprofit charitable organization, provides funding for the direct support of training programs and the expansion of training facilities around the country.

The association has also signed on to an industry pledge to hire 100,000 veterans—who already comprise 23 percent of the trade/craft workers employed by ABC members—in the construction workforce over the next five years, and it promotes the value of diversity and inclusion in the construction and subcontractor/supplier workforce. Additionally, ABC administers numerous competitions, awards programs and student outreach initiatives to promote life-long learning and recognize achievement at every level.

People interested in learning more about craft professions and construction management can visit buildyourfuture.org, an industry-supported website devoted to making career and technical education a priority in secondary schools; shifting perceptions about careers in the construction industry to reflect the wide range of professions available and providing a path from ambition to training to job placement in the construction industry.