Shaping a new future

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Shaping a new future

Ross Moloney, CEO of the Lifting Equipment Engineers Association (LEEA), describes how the world’s leading lifting association tackled the adversity posed by the Covid-19 pandemic and is shaping the way it supports its members going forward.

Looking into the unknowns of a global pandemic and making necessary changes within your own organisation has been exhausting at times. Not since the ‘financial crash’ of 2007 have events changed plans the way that we have seen this year. But perhaps because the memory of 2007 is still with us, we were able to pivot remarkably quickly.

Perhaps no better example has been in maintaining learning and development, which is a fundamental objective for the sustainability of any industry. Prior to lockdown the Association had begun to explore innovative ways to deliver more training to the membership – LEEA training has been available online for some time and in 2019, The LEEA Academy won the bronze award at the Trade Association Awards.

In April, we launched the online course in Mobile Crane Examinations.  This meant that all of our core modules were available through the Academy. After discussions with the Board we instituted an immediate 25% reduction moving to 30% for bookings of five or more for our training – and this reduction will be held in place for the remainder of 2020.  This alone demonstrates where our priorities lie.

While aware of concerns around online assessment, the option is now there for our members and we use the same checks used by IVY league universities in the US. Pass rates using online assessment are almost exactly the same as face-to-face written assessments.

In June we rolled out our first Zoom-based training.  Using video conferencing had been on our minds for some time, though six months ago the thought of training staff using video conferencing was something most of us probably turned away from.  But since March we now all have considerable experience of conducting business and managing our social lives this way.  And so our zoom-based training seems set to stay as an option post covid-19.  Feedback has been outstanding and it has become an overhead free way of training staff.  No travel, no hotels and minimal time away are all clear benefits.  We have been able to deliver training at times to suit our members.  The team here in Huntingdon has worked night shifts to deliver to members in New Zealand, Australia and other territories.

In August we began to deliver face-to-face training here at our Huntingdon training centre, with smaller than usual classes and covid-secure measures in place. In so doing, we have reshaped the delivery of our training in 2020; while face-to-face training has reduced, there has been more online training than ever before and our Zoom numbers are extremely pleasing. 

Despite the barriers faced because of Covid-19, we have found innovative ways to support our members in their people development. As a not for profit we are able to prioritise delivering vision over our bottom line. 

With regards to the launch of the L3 Apprenticeship in England, the standard has been approved and LEEA has been approved as an End Point Assessor Organisation, which in itself is no small feat. We await training providers to have their costing submissions assessed and hope that as restrictions are eased in the educational community, we can move forward. We are doing what we can to push this along. 

Our changes over the past months have been considered and strategically coherent, but have been delivered at a terrific pace. While I reflect with satisfaction, I look forwards with excitement and confidence that we are improving and becoming more effective and efficient.  Less time will be spent on travel.  Less money will be spent on overheads.  Instead our time and money will be invested in refreshed courses, new courses and ways of delivery that support a truly global membership.


Technical matters

In the last 12 months, LEEA’s technical triage service has responded to 1276 enquiries –a 15% increase on last year. During the height of the crisis, turnaround time for responses was reduced to an incredible 2 hours and we continue to deliver that service.  This means that the LEEA team has provided technical support within 2-hours during a global health emergency.  I don’t know of a similar trade association that offers that sort of service and I am very proud and impressed by the team.

The input we receive from our members to the technical team is a key part in shaping LEEA’s work.  On average we have 25 requests every week of the year for technical support.   Along with our audits, training, member feedback and Board involvement we have lots of insights coming into the Association.  It is for this reason that we claim to be led by the industry and hope to ensure that our offering is shaped by our members.


Member Engagement

Clearly we have to maintain the standard of our membership.  But we are also here to help our membership in their daily operations.  During the crisis we purposefully prioritised our role as doctor. Our new approach to admitting members means that in 2020 we have had 234 Expressions of Interest in joining the Association.  This figure is more than double the 113 new members who joined the Association in 2019.  Of that 234, 27 have thus far been accepted as Provisional members and we are working through the remainder. 

In addition to being busy maintaining business as usual in a completely different world, the LEEA team has managed to launch the Military Team Card Scheme, take a primary role in the first ever Global Lifting Awareness Day and we launch the Think Lifting classroom material on 29 September.

Of course we all long for the day when things will be back to something like normal.  Our showpiece events have been cancelled this year and they are an important part of who we are and what we do.  We all hope that before long we will have a vaccine and that we can get back to normal.

But 2020 is likely to shape how we deliver LEEA services and support our members in the long term.  And it is in this regard that I am particularly grateful to the Board for their leadership and vision. I have been with the Association for approaching 3 years.  Our growth and impact can easily be described and quantified.  But the Board’s drive has always been focused on how to improve the value of LEEA members.

I am confident that despite the challenges faced in 2020, it has actually been a year where we have delivered value for our members and have placed some important foundations, which will help us to deliver in the future.

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