Sims Crane, Florida’s premier crane rental and rigging service company,has announced the formation of Sims U, a paid, hands-on crane operator training school based in Tampa, Fla. According to Sims Crane management, the goal of the program is to have students fully qualified and ready to operate a crane in four months. 

Opening on Jan. 7, the Sims U program is a four-month/16-week paid training course for pre-apprentice trainees that combines classroom, hands-on and on-the-job training.  Classroom sessions, with an established curriculum, will be held three days per week (Monday, Wednesday and Friday) for eight hours per day; on Tuesday and Thursday students will work in the Tampa shop and yard facilities. Sims plans to recruit six to 12 trainees per session and hold three sessions annually; however, the initial session starting in January will be limited to six participants.

          “With this year’s crane operator turnover rate at 26 percent and a five percent decline in the crane operator labor force, there is a critical need for qualified operators in our industry,” said Dean Sims II, Sims Crane vice president of marketing. “As Florida’s leading crane company, Sims Crane is launching Sims U to train a sustainable workforce of future crane operators to meet our skilled labor demands.”

          Sims Crane management has put considerable thought and research into designing a curriculum that will create the best possible outcome. Sims U will include a traditional classroom setting with a text book and course calendar. Examples of classroom tools include:

·         Equipment Training Solutions “ETS” (Pearson Publishing)

·         Mike’s Rigging and Crane Handbook

·         Heuristic desktop training kits to demonstrate and practice skills

·         Virtual Reality (VR) Training

·         Access to VR Simulation Practice Tools – ITI or CM Labs

Students’ on-the-job time will be aimed at teaching equipment maintenance and care. Subjects covered and resources offered include:

 ·         Mobile Cranes, Crawler Cranes, Tower Cranes, Trucks and Trailers Care and Maintenance

·         Inspection, Lubrication, Deficiency Logs, Housekeeping

·         Setup, Assembly and Disassembly

·         Ground Conditions, Utilities and Obstructions, Controlled Access, Basic A&D Procedures

·         CDL, Rigging, Signaling and Operation

·         Basic Rigger and Signalman Certification, FDOT Flagman, Class A Driving, Supervised Crane Operation

·         Rigging Kits

·         Dedicated Training Unit (Crane)

·         Trainees will take turns performing inspections and maintenance under supervision

·         Hands-on practice for crane setup, assembly and disassembly

Sims U will also host a variety of industry experts, guest speakers, in-house experts and manufacturer representatives to add variety and enhance the learning experience.

          Sims U students will be paid $14/hour (with no benefits) and local lodging will be provided for selected out of area trainees. Students will enjoy top-notch facilities and ample resources including clean, furnished and well-appointed classrooms, text books and training materials, ANSI books, OSHA 1926.1400 books, third party crane guides, desktop rigging sets, full-sized rigging tools, a dedicated teaching crane and training yard with practice scenarios, and top-of-the-line Virtual Reality desktop simulators from CM Labs valued at $40,000.

          “We are sparing no expense in making Sims U the best training program for crane operators in the state of Florida,” Sims said. “We have even purchased five additional acres next door to our headquarters in Tampa to create a training yard specifically for Sims U students.”

          According to Bob Berry, Sims Crane’s safety director, the current education and training process for crane operators is too lengthy and the demand for new crane operators is extremely high.

          “Right now, it can take four years for one of our apprentices to complete training because they are taking classes just a few times a month and the 1,800-page training manual can be intimidating,” Berry said. “With Sims U’s intense education and hands-on training, we are hoping to fast-track some students to completion in four months instead of four years.”

          To recruit qualified students for Sims U, Sims Crane will reach out to the International Union of Operating Engineers and local vocational and technical schools, as well as solicit referrals from current employees. In addition, Sims Crane will be utilizing a variety of marketing tools such as social media and advertising campaigns.

          “We are going to begin recruiting our inaugural Sims U class on Nov. 12,” said Sims. “We are looking to spread the word that this is a paid education opportunity with an employment guarantee for those who complete our requirements. It is important to note that our average crane operators make more than $100,000 annually.” 

          Founded in 1959 in Tampa, Florida, Sims Crane & Equipment Co. is the leading crane rental and rigging service in the state, with nearly 60 years of innovative safety practices and education, sophisticated technology and financial stability. Since founder Thomas H. Sims bought his first H-5 mobile crane in 1961, our core values have been safety, professionalism, experience, availability and reliability.