As part of next year’s budget, the Federal Government recently announced grants to help young apprentices starting their own business within two years of finishing an apprenticeship. These are grants specifically to help in business skills training and mentoring support. Up to $5000 is available to the apprentice and just 500 people nationally, will be assisted in 2012-13, so waste no time on following up on this, if you’re interested. 1,000 people each year from 2013 14 will be able to take this up, til June 2016.
Many young bricklayers freshly qualified want to launch out on their own soon after completing the apprenticeship but it goes without saying that having the business skills and some experienced advisors is crucial. This $5000 incentive to invest in such support would be an excellent way to help improve your likelihood of success in business. Young qualified bricklaying businesses are usually the ones quick to take on apprentices themselves so we say, go for it!
The best place to start to enquire on how to access the funding would be Australian Business Grants on
1800 785 972 or Email: email@example.com. Failing that, call us and we’ll assist.
Geoff Noble, General Manager, ABBTF
We previously reported in this blog on Ron Elliott and the team at The Country Group (Botany NSW) who, on Australia Day this year, ‘carried’ the Aussie flag in the US Spec Mix 500 Competition for the title of Best Bricklayer in the World! Brian Freeman had been visiting the annual event for some years and decided with workmates Ron and Mark Reese to have a crack at the title in January this year.
Well they didn’t win but Ron says it was an amazing experience and they learned a heap about competing in the event and hope to do it again in 2013. Ron said the atmosphere was ‘mad’ - like a footy final in Australia. The excitement among the crowd was fantastic, with cheering and screaming and a barrage of commentary coming from the loudspeaker all adding to rev up the competition.
The US bricks and mortar are different and take a bit of getting used to. The bricks there are much smaller and the mortar is more sandy and loose, so the bricks slide more – all of which means you need a bit of experience working with them to perform at your best. Ron and the team received lots of positive feedback from the crowd, with compliments on the quality and accuracy of the constructed wall. Other competitors were very friendly and the team was given lots of good advice. Now they know what to expect they believe they’ve a strong chance of doing well representing Australia in Spec Mix 500 2013.
This year, a US team came in first and a Canadian second, both of whom had been competing for several years at this event. The Country Group represented Australia along with a UK and two Canadian teams; otherwise it was a US competition based on regional title winners.
The Country Group has two second year apprentices in the team. With this team’s enthusiasm and attitude, it sounds like a great learning and work environment in which to train for the apprenticeship.
ABBTF NSW State Manager
A very happy Year 9 student, Harley Collins came into the ‘Become a Bricklayer’ office (ABBTF) recently to collect on a very big win. The ‘Become a Bricklayer – find your freedom’ competition conducted during the second half of last year drew entries from all around the country but Harley won out in the lucky first draw process. The prize was a very nice $3000 in store cards chosen by him from a mix of JB Hi-Fi, Rebel and Village Cinemas.
Runners up in each State won similar cards, to the value of $300 each. Harley, a student at Heathmont High in Victoria, entered the competition during a Year 9 careers class at school. Sounds like Harley needs to thank his careers teacher for the lesson! Harley is considering becoming a bricklayer, but will see at the end of Year 10 and if he stays on at school, will also consider doing a trade as a VCAL student in Years 11 and 12. Harley and his mum Sharon found the Become a Bricklayer website very interesting and informative about the apprenticeship and the trade generally. Harley has a younger brother who hopes to reap some benefits from Harley’s winnings.
He was thrilled to win the prize and is looking to buy a surround sound system for his Plasma TV. Harley is choosing the freedom of spending some of his $3,000 prize money at JB Hi Fi and a lesser amount at Rebel Sports.
Harley follows Richmond Football Club in the AFL – the Tigers and plays locally with Heathmont Football Club. He is a keen NBA fan and his hero Kevin Durant of the Oklahoma City Thunder. Part of his winnings will get him a Kevin Durant top from Rebel Sports.
There will be a new Become a Bricklayer competition commencing very soon. Watch out for it and enter at the website or at a Schools Expo around Australia, wherever Become a Bricklayer has a stand. Students can get more information on Bricklaying as an apprenticeship by contacting the appropriate State Office here at the Website.
Congratulations also to the runner up winners including Kirsty Farrell from SA, Patrick Barton from Qld, Robert Doonan from Tas, and Dave Worswick from Vic. NSW and WA winners haven’t claimed their prizes at the time of going to print! A redraw takes place if they don’t come forward so stand by.
Geoff Noble, General Manager, ABBTF
I spent this afternoon catching up with one of FCTA – Building Careers recently completed apprentices, Jay Gerardis. Jay is 21 and has just finished his bricklaying apprenticeship and completing the training required to apply for his builders licence. In Jays words, the best reasons to become a bricklayer are ‘being able to work the hours you want, be outside, not stuck in an office’ That’s when Jay looks at me in front of my computer and adds in ‘no offence’.
Jay won the HIA Bricklaying Apprentice of the Year award in 2010, 2011 & 2012. This year he has been nominated in the SA Training Awards, for Apprentice of the Year. Jay got in to bricklaying after completing a week’s work experience. “You have to try it first, I was even thinking of doing tiling, but once I tried bricklaying I made my mind up. With the other trades you’re either stuck inside all day, or like carpenters, most the time people can’t see your work”. When I ask Jay about changes in the industry he talks about his concern about the possible price increases associated with the carbon tax and ‘green’ building, versus the benefits of building greener homes. “There’s definitely a move to these new 5 star energy efficient homes. I’ve worked on a few of them, and they are a bit more expensive but you have to think about all the money you’re going to save over the years, it’s worth it”.
The biggest shock for Jay once completing his apprenticeship was finding out about all the tax and financial issues during the training for his builders licence, “I was talking to this guy and saying, do you know you can claim all these things on your tax, and the guy had no idea, I just said, you’ve got to do the training!” Jay is currently working on a stone fronted house in the Adelaide Hills, “it’s a tough site, it’s like building on the side of a mountain, but it’s going to look great. You don’t mind the tougher sites when you work out how much you can earn by putting in the extra effort. I’ve built with Hebel, stone, block and brick, there’s lots of different ways to build. At the moment I’m working on a classic style house, there’s a trend getting back to that look, and red brick homes”. Jay is planning to hire his own apprentice once his business is up and running, “As an apprentice you think, how does the boss want it done, but then when you go to do it, you end up mixing what your boss has taught you with what you learn at trade school, that’s what’s best about it. I’m definitely hiring an apprentice, it was the best thing that happened to me”.
Trisch Baff, Marketing & Project Manager,
FCTA – Building Careers
Tasmanian Brad Long is just 19 but in his short career he has already achieved his Bricklaying Apprenticeship, succeeded in running his own bricklaying business and in the last two years has also run the ‘Step out in Bricks’ program for the Education Department at Brooks and Winneleah High Schools. With the current downturn in the building game he’s now commenced another apprenticeship, this time outside the building industry (in auto glazing), to further extend his armoury of skills. Brads got the attitude that though he loves bricklaying, he wants to build a flexible future that allows him to take advantage of the prevailing market conditions and have another set of skills he can use when housing starts are in the doldrums. He sees the future including travelling to other parts of Australia using his bricklaying qualification when things improve.
Brad’s big break in getting a bricklaying apprenticeship in Tasmania came when he was able to include his own experience as a student in the Step Out Program on the resume for his future employer, who then took him on as an apprentice. He was able to demonstrate interest and knowledge that other candidates didn’t have. He started his apprenticeship a week after his sixteenth birthday and was confident about his choice of apprenticeship because of the Step Out program. He knew he was suited to bricklaying and has gone on to enjoy the work, the outdoors and the pride in accomplishing good results and in being able to see the permanence of what you create.
The other lucky break in his short career to date came when a mate had to withdraw unexpectedly from running the Step Out program at selected schools, allowing him to fill the gap. Not only has this provided a new work experience but it’s been a fantastic opportunity to share his own pathway with a group of students going through exactly what he did, just three years prior! Brad describes it as a ‘proud moment’ when you can relate to students your own recent history, beginning in the same Step Out program.
It’s not hard to see he’s a good operator with lots of drive and optimism about his long term bricklaying future. However Brad also gives credit to his family for their support, his old boss for contacts, his friends in the industry and other bricklayers for advice. When starting his own business, he was able to lean on their experience and then apply his own judgement. Utilising the quality tools he’d acquired through the apprenticeship incentives was also a help in getting started. Good luck Brad, we’ll see you back in the industry on the upturn!
Geoff Noble. General Manager, ABBTF