Recapping SC&RF’s 2023 workforce initiatives

11 October 2023

It was a productive year of rollouts for the Specialized Carriers & Rigging Foundation.

The Specialized Carriers & Rigging Foundation (SC&RF) was formed in 1986 and comprises a 501 (c)(3) organization whose mission it is to support SC&RA member companies through scholarships and grants, research and education and workforce development initiatives. SC&RF is sustained by financial contributions from member companies and individuals, as well as fundraising efforts at SC&RA meetings. Association members are encouraged to join the Foundation’s volunteer committees in helping to shape the future of SC&RF as well as the overall industry.

Committed to the Workforce Ambassador Program, Boulter Industrial Contractors involves next-gen workers at a public Career Day.

A rollout year

As for what the Foundation has been up to, if 2022 was considered mostly developmental in practice, then 2023 has been the rollout year. And high on the list of priorities among an assortment of rollouts is the Lift & Move Workforce Ambassador Program – which brings together companies of all sizes to participate in activities focused on building industry awareness and fostering community relationships in order to bridge the skilled-labor gap and ensure a future workforce.

Ambassadors within the program receive a host of benefits, including marketing tools and resources created to promote the industry, a company listing on the Lift & Move website, photo gallery access, a Workforce Ambassador certificate and an opportunity for quarterly (virtual) meet-ups to discuss best practices and share success stories.

Lift & Move will also recognize ambassadors in various ways: by checking in on a quarterly basis to review activities and points (the company with the most points for each category will be recognized and awarded – categories are based on number of employees); by featuring all winners in American Cranes & Transport magazine as well as recognition at the SC&RA Annual Conference Closing Night Awards Ceremony; by making each winner eligible for the “2023 Workforce Ambassador ” award; and by highlighting winners on the Lift & Move website and social media platforms.

“This program has really gained momentum in 2023,” indicated SC&RF Director Jackie Roskos. “The reality is, the industry needs as many representatives as we can get out there telling people about career opportunities. Especially since we are such a niche sector of the industry. The future workforce has to at least be exposed to the opportunity, to know what it is, before they can pursue a career in this trade.”

Employees from Steffan Industries participate in a hand-signals exercise during a career day at Central Elementary School in Elizabeth, PA.

Roskos added that most people aren’t even aware of the heavy haul side or crane and rigging, and the additional steps it takes to find employment therein. “Companies really need to have access to this information at the forefront of their recruiting, and that’s what this program is designed to do.”

Jonelle Anderson, director of business development and marketing at BOSS Crane & Rigging, as well as chair of the Lift & Move Committee, echoed Roskos.

“We’re steadily developing the communications lines with this program to let people know what it’s about,” she noted. “We can’t just sit back and watch the workforce disintegrate – we have to develop some type of recruitment process. Not only to recognize all these companies that have a productive method, but to support the ones that need help.”

Anderson acknowledged that the intent of the program is not to get in the way of a company’s recruitment methods, but assist as needed, and share what works. “It allows us to take success stories from some of the more established programs and potentially educate smaller companies that don’t have one, or companies of any size looking to develop something.”

Kelan Bragg, general manager at Bragg Companies, and vice chair of the Lift & Move Committee, sees the Workforce Ambassador Program as a “lift all ships” scenario. “We’re all drawing from the same pool,” he said. “The more people in the pool, the better for the industry. So if you’re safeguarding secrets and you’re keeping people from having access to a great career, I think that’s detrimental to not only yourself, but the industry as a whole.”

Brittany Bachman, marketing manager at Boulter Industrial Contractors, also a program participant, agreed. “It’s more critical than ever that we come together to learn how to address the labor shortage and help the industry thrive,” she said. “I’ve seen the power of community engagement through the Lift & Move program – and these efforts only strengthen the industry and raise awareness of the trades for the next generation.”

The Foundation is planning an even bigger push on the Workforce Ambassador Program in 2024. The Lift & Move program is supported by SC&RA, the NCCCO Foundation and media partner, KHL Group.

Steven Bruce was one of three employees at L.R. Willson & Sons who completed a CDL Class A training course thanks to a SC&RF Company Training Grant.

Expand the market

SC&RF’s 2023 educational assistance efforts continue to create opportunity for countless SC&RA members. Vo-tech and partner-in-education scholarships benefit individuals pursuing training, certification or continuing education through vocational/tech schools, community college, etc., and range from $500 to $5,000. Seats with Morrow Equipment Company, ITI and CICB are available for 100 percent tuition for those who apply through the vo-tech application. Scholarship deadlines (awarded to an individual) are set for October 31 and December 31.

An exciting new addition to these opportunities is the Company Training Grant, which SC&RF rolled out this year and designed to help companies cover the cost of sending employees out to training, or bringing in a trainer.

Mike Mitchell, crane superintendent at L.R. Willson & Sons, was able to reward three of his employees with $1,000 each towards CDL Class A training courses. “I saw the opportunity online and applied for it right away,” he explained. “It’s huge for us – we run a crane crew with twenty-two crawler cranes that we move just about every day, and these three young guys are part of that crew. It’s huge for them too; it helps these guys excel not only through their training, but their pay jumps up as well. Overall, this grant has put three guys into the workforce who otherwise wouldn’t have been able to get there due to expenses.”

Similar to L.R. Willson & Sons, member company Tesar Industrial Contractors was also able to pay for CDL Class A training – for two of its employees – thanks to the Company Training Grant. “We were really looking for an opportunity to invest back into our employees, and we realized this would be a game changer for us,” said COO Jacquelyn Valek. “Carrying a CDL driver is critical for us – it enables us to get out there and expand the market and service our customers more rapidly. To be able to use the grants for something that is specific to our industry and our needs is enormous.” 

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All hands on deck

SC&RF released its “State of the Workforce in the Crane, Rigging and Specialized Transport Industry” white paper this year. After two years of comprehensive research and analysis, the first-of-its-kind paper was designed to examine and identify a range of workforce issues within the construction and specialized transportation sectors.

Ultimately, 64 companies completed the survey, which resulted in 83 sector-based responses – comprising a productive range of assessment areas, including: In-Field/Operations Occupations, Maintenance, Apprentice/Trainees, Operations Management and Corporate Positions. Within these categories, the survey focused on education, wage range, length of employment and additional issues to address.

The Foundation needs member participation for the 2024 Survey. All member companies are encouraged to complete this seven-minute, anonymous survey to strengthen SC&RF’s ability to understand, address and positively impact the skilled-worker shortage.


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