This month, Sarens is shining the spotlight on our ECOL Training Centre, the first such centre in Belgium and the fourth worldwide. In the heavy lifting industry, ECOL stands for European Crane Operator License, and is the result of an ESTA initiative to investigate how a European craft proficiency certificate for crane operators can be established for the industry.
Inaugurated in 2017, Sarens’ ECOL Training Centre is located at our headquarters in Wolvertem, Belgium. The Centre trained 188 crane operators in 2020, despite being inactive for about five months due to the Covid-19 pandemic. All operators at the Centre are taught by Sarens’ experienced in-house trainer, Wim Scheers, who has been with Sarens since 2007.
Pieter Van den Eynde, Group Talent Manager, shares his insights on this unique centre:
What are the aims of the Sarens ECOL Training Centre?
The primary aim of the Centre is to train our own employees, so we have an eye over what and how they are taught. Doing this internally gives us complete control over these factors, and is also the perfect opportunity to instill Sarens standards and values.
While other training centres might focus only on complying with imposed terms, we always set higher standards for our trainees. We do this by combining the imposed terms with our assessment of what the person who holds this license or certificate should be able to do. I think this distinguishes us from other training centres. In the end, our goal is to provide the highest-quality training, created by and for Sarens employees.
Why is it important for operators to obtain ECOL certification?
The ECOL license is especially valuable for operators working on European projects, and is valid in Belgium and across Europe. All operators, regardless of country of origin, can be ECOL certified.
ECOL is important because currently, each European member state has its own rules for the professional competence and certification of crane operators. The rules range from compulsory to optional and even to no rules at all. These differences can lead to confusion, negatively impact safety, and also prevent the mobility of crane operators across Europe.
However, ECOL enables every crane operator in Europe to demonstrate that he or she meets the minimum requirements for the industry, and to exercise his or her profession in any European member state without having to attend multiple retraining or examination sessions.
Furthermore, ECOL allows every employer to assess the qualifications and experience of any operator applying for a position, and enables every site or plant manager to check the qualifications and experience of any crane operator entering the construction site or plant.
What do trainees at the ECOL Centre learn?
Trainees can take many different courses at the Centre. We aim to provide the perfect balance between theoretical and applied knowledge, including practical experience. Our fixed recurring training offer includes:
Of course, being an internal training centre allows us to be very flexible, so we develop and provide tailor-made training as well. Overall, our training is mostly technically-oriented.
Do trainees need to be Sarens employees?
Primarily, we only train our own employees for now. External students may be allowed with exceptions, but they should meet certain requirements. As our training centre is still growing, we certainly do not exclude the possibility of training external people in the future. Our focus for now, however, is on training Sarens people.