What is the Crewtek workforce development program?

The training and career placement program is setting out to tackle the labor gap and form a pathway to meaningful occupations.

Inspired by a powerline training program he saw in Georgia, Alan Barnhart wondered if a similar program could be replicated in the crane industry. Training workers is a huge problem for crane-owning companies, and Barnhart saw a means to an end.

“We should start a school, from scratch,” he mused. And the Crewtek team did just that.

The non-profit organization, powered by ITI, has a mission to recruit, prepare and place the next generation of skilled workers. Alongside Jeff Latture, executive vice president, Barnhart Crane & Rigging, Crewtek was also created by Zack Parnell, president, Industrial Training International, and Alan Barnhart, CEO, Barnhart. Andie Ray, vice president of people, ProLift Rigging, serves on the Board, alongside Parnell and Latture. James Grover has been named executive director of the program, and Emily Kelly is the campus director.

Currently, there are two Crewtek campus plans for Houston and Washington State at existing ITI locations, and each will have the capacity to host 150 students

Looking ahead

Launching at the end of this summer, students enrolled in Crewtek engage in eight weeks of hands-on experience in a variety of trades that have been impacted by the labor shortage and skills gap.

Parnell fondly coined the training an “accelerator program.” For example, in the Crane & Rigging Trainee track, students are exposed to a bevy of hands-on experiences. But it’s merely the gateway program. Another benefit of the vastness of Crewtek is the opportunity to utilize new skills and experiences to become an oiler, rigger, dispatcher, iron worker and much more. The non-profit aspect of Crewtek also allows the team to devote themselves to helping the students, on a more personal level.

“The life skills piece is big for us, making sure that it’s not just about being in school and not just about gaining a technical skillset, but also solidifying oneself as a productive, contributing member to the industry and society as a whole,” said Grover. “We’ll have some elective things that students can do there too, to help them find their path in life.”

Grover cited balancing checkbooks and other money management lessons, in addition to the leadership skills needed to become a valuable component of the construction industry. Trainees can enroll in tracks such as Crane Operator & Rigger, Service Technician Mobile Cranes & Equipment and Service Technician and Overhead & Tower Cranes.

In addition to over 500 employees in partnership, Crewtek’s “Career Partner Program” also allows corporate recruiters access to trainee and graduate profiles, including transcripts, qualitative scores on safety and leadership. A job board also links to job openings from Career Partners.

Recruiting and retaining

In addition to utilizing the latest in virtual reality technology for training, Crewtek has also harnessed the capabilities of several advanced recruitment platforms, the latest being Tallo. The portal has access to over three million students nationwide. Starting as early as age 13, students create a “little portfolio for what they want to do in life,” said Grover.

Within that platform, Crewtek cites over 186,000 students that have already identified an interest within the industry. Companies will also be able to log into Tallo to see students in advance and check in on their progress within the variety of programs. There is access to real-time grades, real-time attendance and real-time participation.

“One thing we’re going to try and do really well is connect employers to the curriculum and talent,” said Parnell. “In other words, making sure the outgoing student is a perfect fit. If a company like Barnhart could employ that graduate and save eight weeks of training themselves, that’s a big deal. They’re also a more likely retained person because they’ve paid their own way, or they’ve shown commitment already to the industry and what they want to do.”

Currently, there are two Crewtek campus plans for Houston and Washington State at existing ITI locations, and each will have the capacity to host 150 students. But the wheels are in motion for campuses in five other cites, in hotspots across the U.S.

To learn more about Crewtek, and stay up to date on the latest developments, please visit www.crewtek.org

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