9 Questions You Must Ask When Selecting a Crane & Rigging Training Provider

For an organizational manager overseeing a Training, Safety, or Plant & Equipment Department, contracting a company to conduct training for your people using crane and rigging equipment can be a difficult task.  Crane and rigging training skills are just that - skills, tactile skills. The tasks you are asking your personnel who conduct lifting activities to do are vital to your production, maintenance, and bottom line.  So, what questions should you ask to determine which vendor to join arms with?

1.  How much does training really cost my company?

This is not a trick question. Nor should the answer be - "The fees paid to the training company." These fees typically represent only about 7-10% of the
actual cost of the training. The bulk of the cost (nearly 84%) typically lie in Lost Production and Lost Wages (check out What is the True Cost of Training?).
So by asking this question, you will learn the opportunity cost of lost production and the wages paid during the "training time" for each person you employ. This number should prove to you that education should always be classified as an investment in your personnel's future. It also might deter you from strictly selecting the "low bid" when you fully understand your true cost of training.

2.  Regarding the current initiative, is my organization more concerned about building the skills and competency of our people, or "checking off the training box" (compliance)?

Compliance-based training is a reality. Organizations must comply with the law and in some instances the law calls for a certification, qualification, and/or training - even when the personnel to be trained are fully-competent. On the other hand, skills-building training has a different objective and can achieve that objective, or not.  

Like all services, education companies should not be considered as equals - apples to apples. Would you learn more by taking Philosophy 101 from Aristotle or a retired car mechanic? I'm sure that's debatable to some, but the point is, once you know if your organization's objective is to build skills or comply with the law, then you will have much better direction in how to evaluate training providers and the amount of money you are willing to invest in the education.

3.  Do I need local, national, continental, or worldwide support from the vendor?

Are you making a purchase solely for a local plant or the whole division, company nationwide or worldwide?  Do you see this training initiative growing in the future throughout your organization geographically? The point is, you need to know if the vendor can support your organization where you need it, or where you will need it in the future. You can learn this by finding the answers to these questions:
  • How many instructors are employed by the company?
  • What are the geographical locations of the instructors?
  • Where are the training centers located?
  • Is the curriculum in my required languages and numbering systems?
  • Does the company have e-learning curriculum?
Understanding if the company can support both your current and future requirements is very important.

4.  Are the instructors and subject matter experts full-time employees or independent contractors?

Would you rather get on a cross-country flight with a veteran pilot who flies every day or a retired pilot who flies once a month? Contract labor is not inherently bad when it comes to education, however, there is a quality difference between instructors who are sharpened each week in instruction and "full-time industry players" versus those who teach just once in a while.

5. How is the training formatted?

  • Are the classroom sessions anchored with a PowerPoint presentation or an interactive approach?  In other words, will my personnel experience be "death by PowerPoint" or be engaged with interactive curriculum?
  • Are there practical hands-on learning sessions? If so, what portion of the course is hands-on and practical?
  • How many days is the course?
  • Is written and practical assessment of employees conducted?

6. What is my training strategy and required "mix"?

This is important to know as there are many ways to receive training to best fit your organization's size, locations, availability and other factors. A well-rounded training provider will be able to support you with training:
  • At your facility(s), on your equipment, and addressing your specific lifting challenges.
  • At off-site, fully-outfitted training centers that are designed for excellent instruction, both practical and hands-on (mobile cranes, overhead cranes, horizontal rigging systems, and equipment).
  • Via on-demand eLearning.
  • Via live, instructor-led webcasts.
When you determine how you need support, you can then evaluate vendors based on your criterion.

7. What experience does the instructor have?

Instructor-led education is as much about the instructor as it is about the curriculum and instructional design. An instructor with 30 years' experience as a boilermaker, teaching your personnel horizontal rigging systems and load drifting, would definitely be of more benefit than a 10-year health and safety officer.  Request instructor resumes/experience information. 

8. What educational support staff does the provider offer?

Finding the answers to the following questions will help you determine if the provider you are evaluating is a solid, long-term partner, or not:
  • Do I have a dedicated Account Executive to work with who can answer my questions and assist me in selecting the most cost-effective and beneficial training for my personnel?
  • How does your team maintain my personnel's education records?
  • Does your team have knowledge of the current regulations and standards that affect my organization?
  • Are your curriculum and student materials based on the current regulations and standards?
  • Who is the technical director at your company? Who oversees your curriculum, instructors, and instructional design?

9. In the past, which organizations have selected the training provider?

  • Have other organizations in my industry selected this company as a training provider?
  • Which industries have utilized this company?
  • Which prestigious organizations, with solid safety and training records, have gone through this buying process and selected this vendor?

These questions will assist you in the selection process when it may appear at first glance that all vendors are the same. By finding the solutions, you'll quickly find that the vendors' discrepancies far outweigh their similarities.


- Zack Parnell, ITI

Welcoming Address Presentation - Heavy Rigging & Lifting Workshop
Inaugural ITI Heavy Rigging and Lifting Workshop Applauded by Attendees

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Zack Parnell

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