Coates Hire has committed to upskilling the workforce, and the winner is the customer.

With a million items in its $1.73 billion hire fleet, Coates Hire is the dominant force in Australian equipment hire.

The company is also investing in its 2,000 employees over the next several years as it further improves its value  proposition.

“Coates Hire is the trusted name in equipment hire because of our gear and our people,” says Service Training Manager, Steve Webster. “Just as we invest in the fleet, we also invest in our people.”

One of the headline training programs in 2019 is the Coates Hire apprenticeship intake program, which will train nine apprentices in the mechanical trades. They’ll earn Certificate III – Mobile Plant Technology qualifications, after a four-year training and employment period.

During March, four internal candidates and five external apprentices were selected, including one woman and four mature-age Coates Hire employees.

Coates Hire is also investing in OEM training – training by the Original Equipment Manufacturers so Coates Hire service employees gain equipment-specific skills and knowledge. Webster says the planned curriculum in 2019 will make available 1,000 training spots for 540 mechanics, covering ‘high risk’ items such as earthmoving machinery and access equipment. The OEMs will include Genie, JLG, Haulotte, Skyjack, Dynapac and Caterpillar. The tools and equipment training modules will be carried out by Hilti, Stihl, Flextool and Clark Material Handling.

“Every manufacturer has slightly different calibrations and diagnostics systems, and all of those settings have to be right before the equipment can be hired,” says Webster. “When our workshop people have that extra training, we get a high-quality fleet and the customer is hiring safer equipment which is fit for purpose.”

Also being rolled out this year is Coates Hire Development Training which focuses on developing the skills of the service personnel, with extra training in electrics and hydraulics. The Development Training will also develop behavioural competencies that key service staff require to become the leading hands and workshop managers of the future.

“We need leaders in our workshops, to manage people and get teams meeting their goals,” says Webster. “Not everyone wants to pursue that path, but for those who do, we’ll give them the opportunity to undertake the mentoring and training they need to become managers.”

Systems Training will also become a consistent feature of working at Coates Hire, as the company adopts digital platforms.

“What we know about our digital platforms such as Fleet Portal and myFleet is that we get the productivity and efficiency gains at the branches when the systems are being used as designed.”

The company is also introducing a continuous improvement process through competency training. Around 200 Coates Hire operations employees each year will be upskilled via a Verification of Competency (VOC) on specific equipment and processes, starting with high-risk licences, working at heights, load/unload equipment, electrical test-and-tagging and working in confined space.

“This will be a continuous process to ensure our personnel are given every opportunity to operate safely and have currency of competence in key areas of high risk. On some equipment we’ll be doing VOCs every two years and on other equipment, every three years.

“The main pillar is safety – safety for yourself, safety for your workmates, and safety for customers and the public. By training to agreed standards, people are encouraged to meet those standards and we become a safer, more efficient organisation.

“We call it training but it’s also an investment in our workforce for the future.”

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