Emerging from the Lockdown

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Emerging from the Lockdown

LEEA CEO Ross Moloney reflects on how the association has reacted to the pandemic crisis, maintaining support to its membership while gearing up in preparation to navigate the new normal.

When Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic sent much of the world into lockdown, it was imperative for LEEA to take rapid and decisive action.  With the office in Huntingdon closed under UK restrictions at the end of March we quickly focussed our efforts in three priority areas, namely:

  • Support members in the sense of; providing ongoing advice, seeking clarification from government, offering price reductions to training, improving our communication through our website, the LEEA Connect app and social media.
  • Maintain an on-going service, clearly grounded in the changes of Covid-19.
  • Get ready for the future by moving ahead with useful ideas and projects.

It was clear that during the lockdown the last thing members needed was to be chased for an audit so we decided to suspend audits while retaining the option of a paper-based audit. We continued to handle applications from new members from across the globe and our technical support service continued to see high numbers of enquiries.

In fact during March we received a record amount of requests that were handled more efficiently than ever. Promising a 48-hour response the Triage actually delivered an average response time of 2-hours that month. A downturn in April was due in part to the comprehensive FAQ information placed on the website. But we also dealt with over 1000 normal functional email queries such as changing names on certificates, looking for assessment results, asking when assessments are going to happen, etc.

Lockdown communications commenced with the addition of a new tab on the website for clicking through to a one-stop portal for all of LEEA’s COVID-related updates and news. Pushed notifications were sent via LEEA Connect app, the free App available to members.

Online Training

With face-to-face training obviously unable to take place during lockdown, we pushed ahead with our plans to offer distance and remote learning.  Our e-learning portfolio was completed on 6 April, with the launch of our Mobile Crane Examination course.  Because of lockdown pressures, the LEEA Board took the decision to cut LEEA training rates right back at the beginning of April, resulting in a 25% discount for every booking rising to 30% for large scale booking. This discount will stay in place during the Covid-19 challenges.  LEEA is a not-for-profit organisation and we are working hard to carefully manage our resources whilst providing all the help and support we can.

An Open Learning Zone was a further addition to the website, allowing the association to post free-to-view informative films, such as a talk on BS7121 standards by LEEA’s Head of Technical Services, Ben Dobbs, and a couple of films on Thorough Examinations made by our training teams. As we continue to add to the library, we think the zone will give front line engineers access to a wealth of knowledge on demand.

On 24 April, LEEA soft-launched its Military TEAM Card initiative, testing initially in the UK. This means that military personnel can begin a pathway into the civilian sector whilst serving in the forces.  When gaining employment with a LEEA company they can immediately swap their Military TEAM card for a LEEA TEAM Card.  This helps the individual and also helps the company.

Throughout the lockdown the world seemed to be communicating with each other via Zoom and on 1 May, LEEA launched our ‘Zoom into June’. This involved teacher-led training, initially for the Foundation course, delivered via Zoom, thus adding a third channel to the LEEA training options, fitting between face-to-face training and the award-winning e-learning options. 

Zoom training booked up quickly, and we have had incredibly positive feedback on the high value and robustness of this solution.  Our initial courses included students from Malaysia, India, Ireland, and Abu Dhabi. Additional courses were added for July, when we also delivered the course in English by an Arabic speaking member of the team.  Zoom courses are now a part of our new normal and are largely booked up for August with some places available for September.

Online assessments for the Foundation course were launched on 8 July. This option obviates the expense in travelling to a location for an exam, the need to take time out of the work environment to travel and eliminates delay in waiting for the exam date.  Instead, students can study and complete the exam immediately. These are very exciting developments and a good example of LEEA responding to members.  Crucially, waiting times for results are also slashed, something our members have been requesting. 

Our Lifting Equipment General (LEG) course went live on Zoom on 13 July, with online assessment for LEG going live on 20 July.  Our team are improving and amending the delivery materials in the coming weeks to ensure that it is engaging, accessible and a fantastic learning experience.  Two trainers will deliver our Zoom Advanced Programmes to ensure the best possible solution.  I personally recommend the Zoom LEG training to our members – it is a great product and one I’m really proud of.

Resuming in the new normal

We began to reopen our offices in Huntingdon in mid-June, as many countries started to ease lockdown restrictions and encourage a much-needed economic restart.

I am pleased to report that LEEA face-to–face training is now back and we are taking bookings, albeit we are working under the ‘new normal’.  Please book as soon as you are able – dates are listed on the website, along with the Zoom training booking form and how to access e-learning.

For our international members, we strongly recommend using online or Zoom-based training. UK members may also wish to consider online and Zoom courses in the first place.  They are high quality, award winning and extremely financially effective solutions.  However, if you are interested in arranging for face–to–face training either at LEEA’s facilities in Huntingdon or on your premises, please contact us and we will look to find a solution as soon as guidance allows.

For supply chains to run smoothly, attention needs to be paid to lifting. Too often, the importance and exciting nature of what we do is lost or ignored.  This means that our professionalism and essential service is forgotten, and we struggle to attract new entrants into the industry. This was part of what drove LEEA, along with Guy Harris of LHI Magazine and Mark Bridger from Bridger Howes, to work up the idea of having a day dedicated to raising the profile of the Lifting Equipment Industry, something I was glad to discuss in June with Guy Harris of LHI during a video podcast.

We must continue to broadcast the excellence in service, training, maintenance, design, systems, and products provided by LEEA members and ensure that it is delivered to end users and legislative bodies.

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