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Why Heavy Equipment Operators Require Classroom Training

In an era gone by, heavy equipment operator training was done on an ad hoc basis. There was little if any formal training required. In most cases, new operators were trained by friends or family on a ‘sink or swim’ approach. Times have changed, and today’s heavy equipment is far more technical than it was in the early days. Having said that, today’s equipment is probably easier to operate, however, the job itself has become more complex.

There’s no denying the importance of in-the-seat hands-on training. That teaches a student how to operate the heavy equipment. What it doesn’t do is prepare a student to work as a heavy equipment operator. Whilst it may be a play on words, there is a big difference between the terms ‘heavy equipment operator’ and ‘someone who can operate heavy equipment’. I am sure that many of us can remember our early days driving cars – sure, we could drive a car, but were we drivers? That is, someone who could drive safely and competently? That then is the difference between heavy equipment operator and one who can operate heavy equipment.

Classroom training fills in the important gaps that prepares a student for employment as a heavy equipment operator. Safety training, training in new technology, even training in how to read site plans – an important requirement now when you need to work as part of a team to complete a project, these are handled in both the classroom and in and around the heavy equipment. Workers today need to be trained to a minimum level in safety aspects, and this is a classroom-based area of learning.

Heavy equipment operator training now needs to address both the practical and the theoretical side. If you are being trained in a purely hands-on environment, for example, by a friend or relative, there is a good chance that employers won’t take a risk and employ you – more importantly, when it comes to comparing the merits of several candidates for a vacancy, ask yourself whether or not an employer would take on someone who needs further training, or take on someone who has already completed their training. It is now compulsory for employees to complete safety training before working on construction sites. Classroom training may not be as exciting as in-the-seat training, however, it is now a necessary part of life.

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