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Matcom hosts Lift & Move career fair to show off trade industry opportunities

By Kelly Gray

 

Moving heavy machinery takes skill, experience and enthusiasm. A successful move requires a staff of diligent tradespeople who are committed to efficiency, safety and quality. Though many are unaware of the variety of careers that exist in the field of machinery moving,

the dedicated tradespeople that lift, move and install industrial machinery are the backbone of the Canadian industrial sector.

Machinery moving is necessary for industries ranging from manufacturing, aerospace, automotive, food and beverage, packaging and everything in between.

This is the message that was spread to over 200 high school and college students at the first Lift & Move Canada career fair. The career fair was hosted by Matcom on May 30, at their facility in Vaughan, Ont., with the goal of promoting careers in the specialized transport, rigging and crane sectors to Canadian youth. This full-day career exploration event featured dozens of industry professionals, learning stations, a marketplace, simulators and more. By hosting the first ever Lift & Move career fair in Canada, Matcom helped restore the prominence of the what they call the “forgotten trades.”

“We saw that many people – and especially youth – often understood how goods were made, but were less aware of how those goods got into positions where they were useful. We sought to demonstrate the skills necessary to move and place objects,” said Matcom public relations associate Alexander McCleave.

Matcom president Matt Rix witnessed firsthand the power of Lift & Move after travelling to Portland, Ore., and attending a Lift & Move career fair hosted by NessCampbell Crane + Rigging. Since 2015, Lift & Move USA has been addressing the growing skilled trades gap by partnering with industry leaders like NessCampbell to host career fairs for students across the United States. Lift & Move career fairs provide youth with the opportunity to experience the quality of work available in the rigging, crane and specialized transport sectors. After seeing the success of the NessCampbell event, Rix knew that it was time to bring Lift & Move to Canada.

“Popular shows like How It’s Made represent only a small part of the industrial sector. It’s time to show the next generation of workers how the industrial machines they were watching were installed in factories. With the help of Lift & Move, Matcom and its partners delivered a peek inside the world of rigging, heavy hauling and cranes. Students learned that this industry is the backbone of the industrial sector and how these services impact their daily lives,” said Rix.

“Here in Canada as well as the U.S., we are facing a shortage of skilled trade workers due to a number of factors. We found students were not aware of what we do and the workers that are in the sector are starting to retire out,” he said, noting that Matcom targeted high school and college students aged 15 to 25 for the event.

Good jobs and career opportunities

Lift & Move USA is a career exploration and education outreach organization founded in 2015 and organized by the KHL Group, the National Commission for the Certification of Crane Operators, the Specialized Carriers & Rigging Association (SC&RA) and the Specialized Carriers & Rigging Foundation. Career fairs are held at SC&RA member-company locations for students ages 15 to 24 and feature live equipment demonstrations and hands-on learning stations.

The Vaughan Lift & Move career fair mirrored the United States-based program and was supported by industry leaders and a dozen local high schools and colleges. Anderson Haulage, CN, Crane Rental Association of Ontario, Hydra Slide and United Rentals are just a few of the nearly 30 companies that offered their expertise to the 200 students in attendance.

Students rotated through 10 career stations that each displayed a different type of trade work including welding, rigging and crane operation. In a live equipment demonstration, Anderson Haulage brought in a flat deck truck and used the on-site cranes to move a massive cylinder and position it for transport. The event featured a marketplace where a variety of companies set up booths, met with students, distributed merchandise and promoted careers in the industry.

“This was a good place for companies to talk to students about career opportunities,” said McCleave.

He mentions that Matcom began the planning process for the event by first approaching trade schools and then recruiting high schools.

“We saw that it was important to get information about the crane and rigging trades out to students before they enter secondary training programs at colleges. The idea behind Life & Move events is to generate new talent into the trade.”

The current median age for a crane operator or a rigging professional is 42. Trades in general have a skills debt and an ever-growing need for young workers to fill positions as tradespeople ‘age out’ of their roles. This is a need that is especially evident in areas involved in the lift and move sectors.

A 2016 survey of major industry players discovered large shortages of skilled workers for hourly craft positions. The Associated General Contractors of America found that 69 per cent of the survey respondents said they were having a hard time filling job openings. For heavy equipment operators these numbers were lower, but still significant with 43 per cent of survey respondents stating they had challenges finding qualified staff to fill new and existing positions.

According to Rix, there continues to be a growing problem within the trades industry in Ontario and across North America.

“Younger generations are going away from more traditional trade jobs due to an increase in technology advancements. The trade industry can often be viewed as unsexy, boring and tedious work. Nothing could be further from the truth. Canada was built on hardworking and dedicated tradesmen,” he said. Initiatives such as Matcom’s Lift & Move career fair will go a long way to help change Canadian youth’s perception of the trade industry.

“Lift & Move Canada will bring clarity to the next generation about the trades industry and help to explain how these jobs are not only fun and exciting, but can also help to provide a career for many young individuals.”

Given the success of the 2019 Lift & Move career fair, Matcom is already in the planning stages for next year.

“Feedback was incredibly positive with great reviews pouring in to social media within 20 minutes of opening the doors. The need for incoming trade professionals is very great and this is just one option that needs to be explored,” said McCleave. He invites members of the crane, rigging, heavy transport and related industries to join the challenge by coming forward with sponsorship and participation in next year’s event. 

For more information, visit www.matcom.com.

 

 

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Piling Canada is the premier national voice for the Canadian deep foundation construction industry. Each issue is dedicated to providing readers with current and informative editorial, including project updates, company profiles, technological advancements, safety news, environmental information, HR advice, pertinent legal issues and more.