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Students See Their Futures in Construction at Lift & Move USA Event in Houston [VIDEO]

The second ever Lift & Move USA event which was held last month in Houston connected over 650 high school and college students with industry representatives from the crane, rigging and specialized transport industries, inspiring them to pursue careers in those challenging and rewarding fields.

TNT Crane & Rigging hosted the one-day event from their Houston facility where they had several large cranes of varied types on display outside with skilled operators on hand to talk with the attendees about the equipment.  Appropriately, the indoor program began with an introduction from Mike Appling, President and CEO of TNT Crane & Rigging.  In his opening remarks, he noted that the average annual salary for crane operators in Houston is currently $118K. He then introduced the first scheduled speaker, Joel Dandrea, Executive VP of Specialized Carriers & Rigging Association (SC&RA), who presented an overview of the industry.  He said:

“There is a skilled labor shortage.  That’s why you are here.  Lift and Move kicked off last year in Chicago, and this is our second event.  There is a tremendous need for entry level skills coming into the industry.  We appreciate your taking the time to be here today and to take a look at the industry and its different opportunities.”

The next speaker was TNT’s Director of Human Resources, Antoy Bell, whose presentation was titled “Industry Skills Gap and Career Path Overview.”  He talked about the variety of jobs in the industry and the career paths they each lead to.  He said:

“You can do just about anything you are interested in, in this industry, but you have got to be able to fill that gap.  You’ve got to prepare yourself and be trained and be ready. …How many of you saw the flags flying out back?  That crane is a TEREX 1300-ton crane, the largest mobile hydraulic crane in the world.  As a crane operator that is something that you could operate.  You could have control over that machine.”

Jenna Gable, owner of New Jersey-based JK Crane, advised future job applicants to be careful about what they post on social media.  She said:

“The Internet is forever.  Someone who is your friend today may not be two months from now.  [Remembering this] is especially true in construction where everyone relies on each other for safety.”

Pierre Mille of Mammoet, a company which delivers heavy transport – getting the needed cranes and equipment to the right place at the right time, talked about how literally “time is money.”  During a necessary shutdown or turnaround of a refinery (for maintenance or new construction) “every day costs money.”  Mille talked about a particular project where six old drums on a plant were to be replaced by six new drums, and his team had to come up with the most efficient way to get the job done as quickly as possible.  “What can we do differently to make it work?”  Mille talked about how they considered all of the options to coordinate “shipping, lifting rigging, everything that we do.  This event is not just where we sell our company, but this is where we sell our industry.”

Other speakers highlighted specific careers as examples of career path opportunities which are available.

Before lunch and after the final speakers, attendees were encouraged to visit the many inside and outside stations where they could interact with industry professionals and learn more about the careers they might consider pursuing.  Wandering around the exhibit hall listening to music by artists like Bruno Mars, Taylor Swift, and Maroon 5, they had opportunities to operate cranes and front loaders via simulators, and talk with professionals who work in the industry.

You can hear some of the remarks I recorded as I got a chance to talk with some of the participants that day in the following 10-minute video.

Lift & Move USA is an industry initiative to promote job opportunities in the crane, rigging and specialized transport industries, and is targeted at high school students, college students and military veterans.  It will educate the next generation of drivers, mechanics, welders, operators, and riggers on opportunities within the industry.  The next event is scheduled for May 17 in Graham, North Carolina.