Staying ahead of an aging workforce

04 January 2018

Edwards Moving & Rigging has been a driving force in the creation of a three-year apprenticeship program for Kentucky high school students and military through the state’s Labor Cabinet.

Apprenticeship ps

Edwards’ Danny Cain teaches fall protection to a new apprentice.

“Our industry is like many others,” said Danny Cain, safety/risk manager, Edwards Moving & Rigging. “We have an aging workforce and to stay ahead of the curve, companies like Edwards need to have a strong succession plan to replace those that are retiring and leaving our workforce. In an ever-aging industry, one of the most important benefits of this program is employee recruitment and retention. A registered apprenticeship is an employer-driven model that combines on-the-job learning with related classroom instruction that increases an apprentice’s skill level and wages. Apprenticeship programs are often referred to as a ‘earn and learn’ type model as apprentices receive a paycheck from Day One of their participation.”

Leading the way

Kentucky has a proactive governor and Labor Cabinet secretary who are both 100 percent behind promoting careers in trade -oriented professions, such as specialized transportation and rigging, according to Cain. Kentucky is one of four states that are leading the way to promote career opportunities in various trades.

“There was a lengthy review of our training curriculum that had to meet both federal and state guidelines for apprenticeship programs,” Cain said.

The apprentice is on a progressive pay scale and is rewarded for successfully completing their coursework and other requirements. The three levels for the three-year program are Basic Rigger, Intermediate Rigger and Advanced Rigger. There is also curriculum addressing specialized transportation and the apprentice is exposed to and learns about a host of specialized transportation topics.

“Statistics show that not all high school students have a desire to pursue a college degree,” said Cain. “For those that do, they end up after four or five years with incredible debt ($50,000 plus with their first job on average only paying $32,000) that takes years to overcome. For every $1 that an employer spends in an apprenticeship program the ROI for that investment is approximately $1.47. This apprenticeship is like going to college, in this case a trade school where they not only learn certain skill sets for a long-term career but are getting paid.”

Kentucky area high schools have KEES (KY Educational Excellence Scholarship) money available to students based on their GPA. In the past these earned dollars were only earmarked for attending college. Effective January 1, 2018, these monies can be applied to state approved apprenticeship programs. This allows Edwards to use certain KEES scholarship funds to bring in expert trainers in various rigging fields to conduct training for apprentices and Edwards employees.

Strong partnership

“Futuristically speaking, this program has the potential to be a pipeline into high schools for the purpose of promoting a career in our industry as well as to expand our program in numbers,” said Cain. “Having a strong partnership with both our state’s Labor Cabinet and the fact that we actively participate in our local high schools keep the Edwards name out in the community.”

Kentucky also has several military

bases with thousands of veterans leaving the military each year and looking for long-term careers. These individuals bring to Edwards an incredible amount of skills learned in the military as well as the kind of personality traits that every employer is looking for, Cain said. Veterans are honest, dependable, reliable, team oriented, hard working and have faced a lot of unique challenges having served their country so gallantly. With an ever-growing and expanding industry, there are plenty of job opportunities available.

“Registered apprenticeship training is a vital part of the economic well-being of this state and our country,” said Cain. “The better trained our workers are, the better our businesses can compete in today’s global market. Apprenticeship training is a proven on-the-job training system that will produce better trained employees that are more efficient, motivated and productive.”

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