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Evolving training for lifting experts

09 January 2023

Andrew Wright, Deputy CEO of the Lifting Equipment Engineers Association (LEEA), explains how training is evolving to ensure quality and expertise is sustained, reinforcing the confidence logistics operations place in lifting equipment and service suppliers.

LIFTING EQUIPMENT plays a vital role throughout the world of Logistics. From port cranes loading and unloading cargo at docks, to multimodal operations such as lifting loads at railheads from trains to lorries. Inside the warehouse, cranes and hoists commonly lift goods, particularly in facilities supporting manufacturing plants and servicing centres. Then there are the stacker cranes running up and down the aisles of automated storage and retrieval systems. Wherever you look at logistics operations within a supply chain, smooth operation depends on being able to lift. While reliability leading to minimised downtime is the key to efficiency, it is safety that is paramount in any lifting operation.

This is why when it comes to lifting equipment and services, logistics operations should be seeking out experts because they will offer the assurance of safety as well as value beyond the service fee. For example, the ability to create solutions you might never think about, seeing the long-term implications of a project, saving time effort and money through safe and efficient practice. This is what operators can do if they have years of experience and have invested in developing their expertise, in addition to assiduously adhering to high standards and quality in their field. 

Carrying a LEEA badge is one of the best ways to easily identify an expert: the Association’s membership comprises expertise in every aspect of the Lifting Industry – from design, manufacture, refurbishment and repair, through to the hire, maintenance and use of lifting equipment for an entire spectrum of end users.

The Lifting Engineer of today is the expert of tomorrow, so we must continue to develop expertise, for the sake of the Industry’s sustainability. Training is crucial for this and is also a big part of what the Lifting Equipment Engineers Association (LEEA) does. Training offered by LEEA has evolved and continues to develop into the future. 

Before the Covid pandemic arrived, the Association had already begun to explore innovative ways to deliver more training to the membership, with online training being available for some time. This resulted in LEEA being able to pivot remarkably quickly during the pandemic and when the spring 2020 lockdown arrived it pushed ahead with Zoom-based learning.

Zoom was a great enabler, and having worked with the platform LEEA gained the experience to take the application of the technology to a higher level and make it a key part of its permanent training offering. This resulted in significant Investment in high-tech IT suites at the Association’s Huntingdon training centre to support increasing levels of remote working, including touchscreen TVs, motion sensor cameras, sound-masking, state of the art webcams and interactive whiteboards. These address some of the difficulties that became apparent on growing more familiar with online learning – simple things such as glare from pointing a camera at an ordinary whiteboard.

Green training is becoming increasingly popular In this environmentally conscious age, so being able to provide a full learning experience online can minimise the carbon footprint as well as save time and cost compared to travelling long distances.

Companies and individuals will always have preferences for how they receive training: online, or face-to-face on site or at our training centre. The investment in online training technology raises this channel to one that is a genuinely equivalent training option to ‘face-to-face’. This means training can be carried out with equal quality irrespective of the delivery channel. ‘

Training platform

In 2017 the Association’s Learning and Development team, understanding the constraints in the current LEEA Academy, worked to deliver a range of opportunities for the membership in the future. This included a state-of-the-art learning management system, incorporating a new suite of Certificate and Diploma level training courses; training courses available in languages other than English; online assessment and a digital TEAM card. 

LEEA’s state-of-the-art Academy 2.0 platform, developed in partnership with Nucleus Learning, represents the next generation of online training by providing a truly global learning offering – accessible anywhere a student has an Internet connection and a web browser. The Learning Management System is available in English, Bahasa, Simplified Chinese, Brazilian Portuguese and Arabic. A bespoke learning app allows offline learning whenever desired. To ensure a qualification gives the student the ability to demonstrate safe capabilities, a new online assessment engine was also created. The platform provides a virtual exam hall controlled by LEEA trainers with state of the art digital security software, randomised assessment questions and the LEEA app enables the camera on a smart device to validate the student and lock down their ability to use search engines during the assessment. This gives the assurance that qualifications gained via this channel uphold the Association’s ‘gold standard’.

Latest courses

LEEA is thrilled to be offering its membership market leading training, as it continues its programme of launches for its new suite of courses incorporated into the Academy 2.0 Project. The first courses to arrive as part of the Academy 2.0 project were EUG (End User Guidance), as an open link at leeaint.com accessible by all, and the ILE (Introduction to Lifting Equipment) course, available to LEEA members in the ‘Members area’ of leeaint.com. They were introduced on 7 July 2022 – Global Lifting Awareness Day.

LEEA’s all new Foundation Certificate training courses – FOU (Global), were made available to all members on subscription in September 2022.  This course is available in English, Arabic, Bahasa, Brazilian Portuguese and Simplified Chinese. FOU (Australia) will also be introduced, which is essentially the same as the global course but with regional variations. Online assessments will be available for FOU Certificate training in all languages stated.

LEEA’s all new Lifting Accessories Course, LAC (Global), will be available to all members on subscription on 28 September. Replacing the previous ‘Lifting Equipment General (LEG) Diploma’, the course is available in English, Arabic, Bahasa, Brazilian Portuguese and Simplified Chinese. In addition there will be LAC (Australia), LAC (NZ) and LAC (USA) courses. These will replicate LAC (Global) but with regional variations.

The PLM (Powered Lifting Machines) Global course – offered in English, Arabic, Bahasa, Brazilian Portuguese and Simplified Chinese – and the The MLM (Manual Lifting Machines) will be introduced during the autumn of 2022, followed by the BGC (Bridge & Gantry Cranes) course at the end of the year.

With all courses available on LEEA’s new e-Learning platform, members can carry out their training when they want, how they want and for as long as they want. The platform is suitable for any device and has an offline study capability with auto-sync updates once back online.  LEEA’s substantial investment into a technology upgrade in its Huntingdon training centre makes e-learning a real option for learners, with staff able hold classes with delegates from across the world and deliver training via Zoom with maximum effectiveness. 

The new digital TEAM card makes it easier for members to show their qualifications. It incorporates ‘smart’ technology to provide instantly verifiable data when required, and will be instantly updated by the LEEA team when changes occur such as new validation dates, change of employment details, a new photograph and when new qualifications are added.

The mix of training delivery channels will make it easier for more people to go through training, as will increasing the variety of courses and languages.  LEEA is a truly global trade association so it is important to align with our global footprint and translate courses into Arabic, Bahasa, Portuguese Brazilian and simplified Chinese. 

At LEEA we believe that leadership very much benefits from learning and, in relation to activities involving lifting equipment, we see a vital need to educate company management about their responsibilities, hence the End User Guidance course, relevant for managers in all industries where lifting is used – including the logistics sector. At the other end of the career spectrum, we are keen to teach young people and new recruits about lifting, which starts with the Think Lifting schools engagement programme and the LiftEx Industry Career Day.

We have also opened up a pathway into the industry with The Lifting Equipment Technician apprenticeship, which went live at the beginning of 2022. This will transform the way in which young – as well as the not so young – people are brought into, and developed in, the profession. Although the detail of the scheme is specific to England, the apprenticeships are based around a Standard which is intended to be of global applicability, and LEEA is already talking to training regulators and providers in Wales and Scotland, where training is a devolved responsibility, as well as Australia, New Zealand and elsewhere.

LEEA also operates a Military Transition Scheme, which aims to provide a training path for the valuable military veterans and leavers skills pool into our industry.

With skills shortages being a prime concern in the logistics sector, it makes sense to ensure staff are as productive as they can be. Training is one of the best methods for building a more productive workforce, which brings me to a final thought: for those concerned about retaining trained staff I would say worry less about training your staff and them leaving, than having untrained staff staying.