December 7, 2022

Crane firm seeks to hire 150 UK workers amid skills shortage in Australia

A South Australian crane company is looking to hire 150 UK crane operators to work and live in the Upper Spencer Gulf.

Lou Sapio of MAX Services said the company was looking to hire experienced UK crane operators who could travel to places like Port Pirie, Port Augusta and Whyalla.

Mr Sapio said in Australia there was a significant lack of skills to operate larger and more expensive cranes.

“We are looking for operators to operate large equipment, so we are talking 150-200 tonnes minimum… we are also looking for others who can operate cranes up to 1,200 tonnes,” he said .

Chris Birch says staffing shortages force him to juggle running his business and driving.(ABC North and West SA: Lucas Forbes)

CBCH Crane Hire owner and operator Chris Birch said he had noticed a years-long decline in the number of highly skilled crane operators, which he attributed to fewer young people entering the industry and upgrading their skills. in time to replace retiring veterans.

He said the lack of skilled operators able to operate larger and more expensive machines was impacting his ability to run his business.

“That means I have to put on the boots and try to run the business and drive at the same time,” Mr. Birch said.

“When you want to grow, it’s quite easy to get machines, but it’s hard to get people.”

Mr Sapio said it was impossible to hire nationally.

“I don’t trust at all [that we could hire that many Australians]otherwise we wouldn’t be going this route,” he said.

“A few years ago…we started an Australia-wide recruitment process…and I think out of all the applications we only received 20 applicants, interviewed seven, hired five and out of all of that, I think one is still in the business. “

To convince UK crane operators to move their whole lives halfway around the world, Mr Sapio said the company had tried to sell the Upper Spencer Gulf lifestyle to potential recruits.

“You have great fishing, great tourism, you have lots of social events, and most pockets are very family-oriented, community-centered,” he said.

“That’s what we do with UK expats who have already landed here – we give them a list of things to watch.”