I started my apprenticeship when I was 18. In hindsight a little later than I would’ve liked, but it probably worked out well, reinforcing that bricklaying was something I really wanted to do…and not just a cop out of school. Bricklaying wasn’t a desirable trade to the majority at the time, and that was something that appealed to me. People shied away from the “dirty, hard work” image the trade has, and would rather be a sparky or a chippy, and doing something different as well as something that people knew was tough going was rewarding.
The first week was everything like everyone said, fast and hard. I can remember it being hot all week and my boss had a big crew, so I was thrown in the deep end straight away labouring for about 4-5 blokes. But after the first couple of weeks I got used to it and started enjoying it. Also with my boss having a large crew, it was difficult at first to get on the trowel, because there was simply not enough time.
But with the introduction of the first home buyers grant, the construction boom was an open invitation for most of the brickies in the crew to go out on their own and make some better money. This gave me the opportunity I needed to start learning how to lay bricks, and I can remember thinking how easy my bosses made it look. I was lucky that once I started on the trowel, I never really got off, and I think that is the key to good, fast learning. Not a day here or there. Everyday.
I’m now a qualified bricklayer with my own business. I have one apprentice at the moment, it took a few blokes to get the right one, but that’s part of the game. I love having an apprentice on board, it makes things easier on me and I can show him the things my bosses showed me and give him a career. I would love to take on more apprentices in the future, possibly even in the next couple of months. The ABBTF subsidies really come in handy when hiring an apprentice, because teaching them does cost time. It also compensates for the time they are at TAFE and not onsite, and all in all I think is a good concept and something that needs to be a permanent incentive for employers.
I wonder if other brickies have shared the same positive experience I had starting out, especially good time on the trowel. I’d like to get your comments here.
Bricklayer, Business Owner
Last week I had an apprentice in to discuss how to go about becoming a licensed builder. As a manager at FCTA, which is a Registered Training Organisation, I get questions like this a lot, because basically, it’s unnecessarily complicated to get information!
Each state handles the issuing of builders licences separately, with their own rules and regulations. As a result there are differences state by state, and no one website to visit. Instead each state has its own website and application procedure. In South Australia, it’s the Office of Consumer and Business Affairs http://www.ocba.sa.gov.au. To mix things up a bit more, from July 2012, until sometime in 2013 a national system of licensing will be rolled out and the system for applying will change again.
Regardless of the complexity, it’s a step well worth taking! Fully qualified and licensed bricklayers can expect to earn more than they were as an apprentice and even have the ability to become their own boss. The process is the simplest for people who have finished their apprenticeship.
>The requirement in SA is that two additional units are completed, one in small business finance, the other in business and legal requirements. These units cover off issues such as how to set up your business finances and what legal issues you need to be aware of. Once that is done, it’s a matter of filling in the paperwork, supplying copies of your apprenticeship papers and proof of completion of the two additional units to the South Australian Office of Consumer and Business Affairs. This department is in the process of developing an online application process, so keep checking back at http://ocba.sa.gov.au/licensing/olap.html
At this point, eyes start to glaze over and the idea of working as a subcontractor and being paid by ABN seems like a better option. While many people in the industry will tell you this is a good option, you need to be aware that if the majority of your income shows as being paid by the same employer this way, there will be issues. Generally, a worker is an employee and not a contractor if:
- You are paid for the time you work, as opposed to being paid for results
- You receive paid leave
- You are NOT responsible for providing the majority of materials or equipment to do a job and
- Your work hours are set by an award or agreement.
The implications of being paid under an ABN when you are working as employee can include, not having workcover support if you are injured at work, not having your superannuation contributions paid and for the employer, fines of up to $33,000 if they try to claim falsely they you are a contractor.
On top of this, employers can be made to pay superannuation and other benefits previously not paid under the shame contractor set up. For information on becoming a builder in other states you will need to contact your local licensing authority, training organisation, MBA or HIA.
A little work now to get your builders license will save some major headaches later on!
Trisch Baff, Marketing & Project Manager,
FCTA – Building Careers