Whitepaper links lifting industry and wider society

21 March 2024

New SC&RF white paper highlights industry’s key role in the economy. Mike Chalmers reports.

The Specialized Carriers & Rigging Foundation (SC&RF) has announced publication of a highly anticipated white paper: Public Benefits and Economic Dependency on the Crane, Rigging and Specialized Transport Industry.

Designed as an externally focused resource for business owners and advocacy groups in the industry, SC&RF’s white paper highlights the shared objectives between the industry and society and demonstrates the impact of those working within it Designed as an externally focused resource for business owners and advocacy groups in the industry, SC&RF’s white paper highlights the shared objectives between the industry and society and demonstrates the impact of those working within it

Designed as an externally focused resource for business owners and advocacy groups in the specialized transportation, crane and rigging industry to educate those outside the industry, the paper highlights the shared objectives between the industry and society and demonstrates the impact of those working within it.

Drilling down, the report analyses the critical public benefits that specialized transportation and crane and rigging companies contribute – highlighting the essential roles they play in the safe and efficient movement of commercial goods and services around the world. Ultimately, readers will gain a deeper appreciation for how the industry works together to safely load, transport, deliver and-or place loads and materials required for the construction of large projects across key industries.

“Elected and appointed public officials may not fully understand the impact that a change in design standards, permitting regulations or other policies have on specialized transportation, crane and rigging industries and their customers,” explained Chris Smith, SC&RA vice president, Transportation. “Additionally, job candidates or career counsellors do not always understand the unique benefits and the economic impact of jobs in this industry.”

Smith helped develop the paper and used a similar SC&RF report from 2012 (Transporting a Global Economy / Moving 21st Century Oversized-Loads) as inspiration for this enhanced iteration. “That report was one of the first things I read when I joined SC&RA and, while its focus was on specialized transportation only, it was written in a very productive way – for people that know little about these industries, why they should pay attention to them or even care.”

Chris Smith, SC&RA vice president, Transportation Chris Smith, SC&RA vice president, Transportation

A consistent challenge with communicating about this industry to policy makers, he added, is to make it brief, to the point, understandable and backed by solid data.

“I proposed the idea to the SC&RF to modify that original report and concept but this time include the crane and rigging industries, integrate the Foundation’s ongoing workforce development study and enhance the flexibility of the report, to make it relevant to readers in specific states,” Smith explained. “As members are building relationships, it opens the door for the more detailed conversations needed to move our advocacy efforts forward.”

Crucial to success

“We really want to underscore that this publication is meant for everyone – especially those outside of our industry – as well as the many people and companies within it,” emphasised Jackie Roskos, SC&RF director.

“And new to this version of the report is not just updated specialized transportation data but entirely new sections on crane and rigging, as well as the workforce demographics for both sectors taken from the research report release in August 2023 [The State of the Workforce in Crane, Rigging and Specialized Transport].

Jackie Roskos, SC&RF director Jackie Roskos, SC&RF director

“It’s that type of information and perspective that should allow anyone in these or related lines of work a deeper understanding of how this industry functions, and the fundamental value it brings to society. Additionally, it brings awareness to educators on a wide range of levels so they can teach their students about this industry and the career options it provides.”

Echoing Smith, Roskos continued, “Despite the role of this industry in the growth and development of our society, the unique challenges and regulations encountered are often not well understood by the public, elected representatives and government officials at a local, state or federal level.”

SC&RF President and owner at JK Crane, Jennifer Gabel, believes there’s a reason for that. “In a lot of ways, I think many people might be more focused on the end product – the bridge, the high-rise, the windmill,” she noted.

Jennifer Gabel, SC&RF president, and owner at JK Crane Jennifer Gabel, SC&RF president, and owner at JK Crane

“The fact that we’re always out there moving and building the world around everyone, there’s perhaps a tendency to overlook it, or not see it at all. And so, without that awareness or education, people don’t know about the many challenges we face, and on the other side, the many opportunities available.”

Crucial to the success of the industry, added Gabel, is government’s understanding of what exactly it is they are governing or regulating. “A question that comes up a lot is: how are people creating policies and regulations that make sense for our industry if they don’t understand it,” she acknowledged. “We all obviously want this industry to succeed – but it can’t succeed if people aren’t aware of it enough to want to enter it on the workforce side, and it certainly can’t succeed if people are policing it in a way that doesn’t make sense – or not considering it when making policies and regulations.”

To that point, Smith recognised, “While it is indeed a primer on the industry overall, we made sure this paper gets into ideas and recommendations through case studies that allow the reader to think through the lens of the economic contributions and workforce impact this industry creates. It’s very important to be able to tell people in government why we’re important but also how they and their constituents will benefit. As a result, readers will notice the diversity of case studies – civil engineering, highway, wind energy, public transportation – designed intentionally to show that this overall industry, with its connection to all these other industries and related outcomes, ultimately serves the public.”

Telling the story

“For the SC&RF, this is exactly the type of project we’re looking to invest in,” explained Roskos. “It ties into our mission of education, research and workforce development – and our goal to support the Association and the larger industry.”

Alex Marach, director of freight analytics at CPCS, was the lead researcher in developing the white paper. He agreed with Roskos. “My goal was to represent that mission and articulate it through data and visuals. While this industry plays such a pivotal role in our society, there’s not a data set that is specific to it.

Alex Marach, CPCS director of freight analytics Alex Marach, CPCS director of freight analytics

“On a national scale, there are relatively few employees when compared to other industries but then, when you look at all of the things this industry touches, from building data centres to skyscrapers, our energy systems, infrastructure and more, the foundational point of public benefit was something that we really wanted to get through.”

Marach understands that language will remain one of the primary vehicles through which a product like this lands successfully. “Numbers without context don’t tell a story. So, using the language, and design, to really drive home the data in this paper does a good job of telling the overall story,” he confirmed. “And when it comes to telling that story and navigating the data that were available, I think the points that we make and the flexibility that the report uses by spotlighting the different parts of the industry really hits the mark.”

To receive a copy of the white paper, click here.


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