Right now for four days, four world class visiting students of bricklaying, under 23 years, are in Perth in preparation for the International WorldSkills title, having won their national titles last year.
They’ll pit their skills against Australia’s 2013 National Champion Perth bricklayer, Alan Ramsden before they all go to the main event taking place in July in Leipzig, Germany with many other nations. This warm up event titled ‘Global Skills Challenge’ gives national representatives a great opportunity to test their skills under pressure. It’s a real competition environment working on projects that are not dissimilar to those they are likely to face in Germany.
For bricklaying the international competitors joining Australia’s Alan Ramsden are Jacob Bell from Canada, Xu Beibei from China, Andrew Heath from New Zealand and Ashley Terron from the UK. A warm welcome to them all from ABBTF!
The comp officially started yesterday and will run through to Friday and takes place at Polytechnic West’s Midland Campus. Supporting bricklaying’s part of the event are Eddie Campbell as facilitating manager, Troy Everett national expert and Eric Davis from Qld.
I am pleased to say that this event (as with all competitions in bricklaying) is strongly supported by the ABBTF and allied partners. These include ABN, HIA, Challenger TAFE, Trades North, Kennard’s Hire, Cockburn Cement and Polytechnic West.
The event is not open to the public. However industry has been in attendance and is using this as a launching pad to hopefully securing a Perth based national WorldSkills competition in 2014! How good would that be!
Many young people completing the school year are thinking about their options for 2013. A number are hoping their results enable them to start University in 2013; many others are looking to get into the workforce and get paid to learn a trade.
A career to think about is in the building and construction industry and there is no better way to start than with an apprenticeship in bricklaying. A qualification in brick and blocklaying opens doors to many career choices such as starting your own business as a bricklaying contractor, a self employed builder and becoming a project manager or a construction manager. These are all rewarding and worthwhile goals in life that young people should think about.
The more immediate benefits of becoming a bricklayer through an apprenticeship are working outdoors, the satisfaction of saying “I built that”, being part of a team, gaining a qualification and having the freedom to travel the country or the world where there is always work for a skilled bricklayer. At the website here, we show you just some of the ways bricklaying will provide a rewarding career as well as give you the freedom you want to enjoy life.
Young people should also be aware that with the Government’s Kickstart Initiative from December 2012 to February 2013, many good bricklayers will be looking to start an apprentice over these summer months.
Something to think about!
General Manager, ABBTF
The next regional WorldSkills competitions occur in 30 regions across Australia mid-2013. At the end of that cycle the international competition will be in Brazil in 2015, so it is a good time to consider involvement in the competition - whether you are a potential competitor, an employer with an outstanding apprentice you would like to encourage or a Group Training Scheme that would like to provide opportunities to apprentices/trainees.
On my recent trip to Brazil representing Bricklaying at ‘WorldSkills Americas’ I was very impressed by the perception of vocational skills training in Brazil, and how it is held in high regard.
This applies at all levels from the proud student who proudly talks about their bricklaying studies to past and present Presidents of the nation who not only speak about the importance of skills in nation building but have also invested energies and resources into building one of the strongest training organisations in the world – Senai.
The organisation is funded wholly by industry, primarily through a one per cent levy from industry turnover, not profit, so it is a huge amount of money especially considering the 200 million population count. The student population of Senai is currently 2.5 million people and this will grow to 4 million within the next two years.
Engaging in training is free for students and graduates are channelled into employment by industry bodies and associations. It was remarkable to see so many students lined up outside colleges wanting to engage in tests so that they can gain a place in a course.
Many of the countries in South America (and increasingly around the world) are using WorldSkills to now benchmark skills on a global basis.
WorldSkills has always and will always promote skills excellence through competition but as the profile and participation numbers have grown it is exciting to see where WorldSkills is now headed and the influence it is having on skills development in so many countries.
Re-visit WorldSkills Bricklaying Competition this year, Here.
Consider entering in the Regional WorldSkills event, it could literally open up a world of opportunities. More information can be found via: www.worldskills.org.au (Australia) and www.worldskills.org (International).
Bricklaying Chief Category Expert, WorldSkills; A/Head Teacher – Civil Engineering, Surveying and Mapping, TAFE NSW – Illawarra Institute, Wollongong Campus
Regular visitors to Become-a-Bricklayer will be aware that our website uses an image of a massive surfing wave as its branding device. This is because surfing, for many people symbolises the idea of a lifestyle that involves freedom and excitement and the reality is that bricklaying as a career, makes such a lifestyle possible. The fitness required for both, a love of the outdoors and the early start to bricklaying day makes catching the surf a reality.
We were therefore stoked to read in Brisbane’s Courier Mail about Peter de Haan, bricklayer from Cronulla and his amazing, out-of-the-box real life experience of the big surf. Peter just went to see the adventure movie Storm Surfers 3D with his wife when out of the blue he was picked for a promotion and ended up in the middle of Bass Strait a few hours later in a real-life adventure beside big-wave hunter Ross Clarke-Jones.
As Peter said “All I wanted was an autograph for my five-year-old son Jett”. Instead, he found himself on a jet ski in the cold and pitch dark alongside a friendly "maniac", staring at the biggest wall of water he had ever seen.
"It was like I was plucked from Earth and I jumped on another planet," he said of his jaunt with one of the world's most famous and fearless monster-wave riders.
"I'm just ordinary Pete. Things like this don't happen to people like me. But Ross was incredible. He's a cool dude."
The 35-year-old said he thought at first he was being punked when Ross Clarke-Jones ushered him out of screening on to a plane to Melbourne and then drove him at break-neck speed to the Victorian coastal town of Jan Juc, just past Torquay.
Then, when he found himself sitting beside surfing-mad Clarke-Jones on a jet-ski in the dead of night somewhere off the Australian coast, hunting for big waves, he "freaked".
"I surf big waves in my dreams, not in real life," de Haan said of being towed off the coast looking for monster surf. I am just an average Joe who surfs a bit."
While Ross Clarke-Jones, who with former world champion Tom Carroll stars in Storm Surfers 3D, has notoriously ridden waves whipped up by typhoons and been in a wipe-out off a 20m monster, the 4m wave de Haan saw was big enough: "Ross was great. He kept encouraging me. I got up and rode a wave but I was a bit shabby. I think I'll leave this to the professionals."
While it was the adventure of a lifetime, de Haan isn't keen to repeat it: "It was crazy. I'm happy just being Pete."
Tony Bishop, ABBTF Manager Qld
A mighty battle was fought for the National title this weekend in Sydney with the victorious Gold Medal winner Todd Richards from Mackay Qld, never having once laid pressed clay bricks used for the National competition. North of Rockhampton, about 90% of masonry construction is in concrete block and the remainder in wire cut clay bricks, rather than the full pressed brick.
Silver Medallist in the competition was young Alan Ramsden, just turning 18 years, from Perth, WA - suggesting many more successes in this competition may well come in the future. Matthew Barratt, 22 years, from Hobart in Tasmania won the Bronze Medal, continuing a family tradition of great competition performers and cementing a great WorldSkills event as the runner up in the Gun Trowel. We hope to report on all three winners soon to hear their impressions on the event in a future blog.
From the first brick laid to the final call of ‘tools down’ all 13 apprentices demonstrated why they are the best from around Australia. Students and trainers had spent endless hours over the past few months preparing for the event. Amazingly all the apprentices demonstrated a different style and approach to constructing the projects. This alone made it a really interesting spectator event.
As Troy Everett predicted at the outset, the project was challenging and it was clear that the young apprentices were feeling the pressure of competition and the scrutiny from Judges and onlookers. However, well-honed skills were on show - they all looked like ‘naturals’ as they buttered, placed and tapped bricks into place with the precision and efficiency of a craftsman.
At the Wednesday night ABBTF industry event preceding WorldSkills it was fantastic to see the who’s who of the industry. For, example, for the first time in one room together we were honoured to have the last three International WorldSkills Bricklaying competitors in Tim Hambly (2007), Nigel Croke (2009) and Lester Tibbles (2011). For the full Honour Roll click here. It was an excellent night of re-connecting with old mates, making new contacts and reflecting on the achievements and challenges facing our industry.
Never missing an opportunity to promote the trade to new prospects, ABBTF conducted a Try-a-Trade near the bricklaying competition area over the three days of the competition. It was a great success with school students and others having the opportunity to lay a brick with past International WorldSkills Bronze winner Nigel Croke.
Geoff Noble, General Manager, ABBTF
Part of the lead in to the National WorldSkills Bricklaying championship in Sydney on the weekend was the twenty minute “Gun Trowel” speed competition. All entrants to the
bricklaying WorldSkills competition participated in the event. And what an event it was! Standing room only, spectators were five deep around the perimeter of the competition area and drawn from a wide range of other WorldSkills activities happening at the stadium.
Trent Cosh’s colourful commentary and introduction of competitors entertained us while the Golden Trowel Trophy was passed around the crowd to admiring comments.
The atmosphere was electric -flashing trowels and flying mortar amid the cheering created a great event as the crowd was ‘gripped’ by the excitement of the race, counting down to the start and finish at ‘trowels down’ to huge applause.
The 13 WorldSkills regional winning bricklayer entrants raced to complete the four brick pier in the allotted 20 minutes - and it was a tight race.
Coming out winner was third year apprentice from Adelaide, Matthew Cheso. Congratulations Matthew! Sounds like some of those ‘tricks of the trade’ picked up from Colin Sontag paid off! Colin has been a top bricklayer for around 40 years in SA and has been a big part of Matthew’s apprenticeship. Matthew attends the Gilles Plains campus of TAFE SA.
But very close behind Matthew Cheso was runner up Matthew Barratt from Tasmania. Only after painstaking measuring and re-measuring was the winner decided by the barest of margins from Matthew Barratt of Tasmania. However, some compensation no doubt was Matthew Barratt’s Bronze in the main National WorldSkills Bricklaying competition that followed. This was an exceptional performance overall and not a complete surprise given the proud history of WorldSkills success in the Barratt family.
Geoff Noble, General Manager, ABBTF
Last weekend’s Skills West Expo in WA was fortunate to have as its ambassador Renae Wauhop popular runner-up on the first season of Channel 7′s The Amazing Race Australia. No doubt she was one reason for the massive success with up to 17,000 visitors over the three days from Friday, visiting 130 exhibits across three pavilions.
ABBTF participated in the event promoting Bricklaying as a career choice providing future freedom and growth and Renae wasn’t shy at trying her hand with the trowel at the ABBTF stand. Renae has had a go at many trades already in her 24 years, including basic mechanics, plus she holds retail and wholesale certificates and has done on the job training as a labourer with a roof tiling company. Renae has an incredibly busy life and career which includes modelling, television presenting and weekly radio hosting on 92.9FM, managing Hurt Locker in Claremont’s gym and instructing in Box Fit boxing classes. Oh yes, and there’s also boyfriend West Coast Eagles footballer Mark Nikoski to catch up with in between time. Did we mention the occasional arm wrestling too!
At the Expo Renae encouraged everyone to set goals for themselves - she certainly doesn’t seem to struggle with this. Trade expos are a great place to start setting goals and with the wealth of information on training colleges, employers, industries and Government initiatives currently in Western Australia this was a top Expo.
The support that ABBTF’s Bricklaying exhibition received from local industry stakeholders was overwhelming as we also ran a WorldSkills pre competition event. The actual National WorldSkills event, where Australia’s top Apprentice Bricklayer will be judged from the 14 Regional Award winners, takes place over four days in Sydney from Thursday August 30th. WA has three apprentice contenders for the National WorldSkills award including Samuel Long, Rhyse Moroney and Alan Ramsden. Best wishes guys, we know you’ll give your all.
Dean Pearson, ABBTF WA Manager
Don’t Miss: Australia’s next National Bricklaying Apprentice champion will be determined at the National WorldSkills Competition taking place in Homebush Sydney from the 30th August to the 1st of September. The general public are most welcome and entry is free. The bricklaying competition is a highlight of the event and the ABBTF “speed test” at lunchtime on Thursday the 30th of August should not be missed.
Running so close after the Sporting Olympics, it’s interesting to compare the different conditions in the ‘Skills’ Olympics with the sporting games. For starters, the Olympic Games are run every four years compared to the International WorldSkills Competitions that are run every two, next year’s being in Leipzig Germany. WorldSkills competitors can only compete in one International Competition and there is an age limit (23 years old for most categories). It’s literally a once in a lifetime opportunity. See the 2012 Australian Regional Bricklaying Champions eligible to compete in the upcoming Nationals here.
Although many sporting competitors need to adapt to local conditions, most tracks and pieces of equipment are very similar. However, the adaptation and adjustment required from WorldSkills competitors is much more intense. Using bricklaying as an example, bricks sizes vary greatly from country to country as do the mortar materials used to lay them. Equipment such as bricksaws and profiles are also totally different to what most competitors would be familiar with. Add to this the language barrier if it is a non-English speaking host country, like next year and it magnifies the issue. Terminology can also be tricky, terms such as ‘frog’ and ‘Larry’ do not carry the same meaning in many other bricklaying industries around the world.
ALL the international WorldSkills competitions go for four days. They do not have a heat here and there and then compete for a medal in a short final, the WorldSkills competitors will be competing for 22 hours over four days, most of them in highly physical competitions such as bricklaying.
You will also have noticed that the medal presentations occur during the days of competition in the Olympic Games and the emotion is often overwhelming as the medals are placed over the heads of those that have done so well. Despite these competitors already being aware of their success, it is still a powerful and proud moment. In the International WorldSkills competition, all the medals are awarded in one medal ceremony a day or so after the competition has ended. No competitor is aware if they have medalled or not. Those that have won the Gold do not know. Can you imagine the reactions from the competitors and all their compatriot supporters as the medallists are announced? There’s nothing quite like it.
Bricklaying Category Expert, WorldSkills,
A/Head Teacher – Civil Engineering, Surveying and Mapping
TAFE NSW – Illawarra Institute, Wollongong Campus
Like many people I have been very captivated by the drama and charm that is the Olympic Games. In any discipline, from swimming to athletics, Ping Pong to weightlifting the stakes seem to be that much higher in the Olympic arena. The same can be said for the International WorldSkills competitions where our yet to be determined National bricklayer champion will compete in 2013 in Leipzig Germany. Emotions run high as competitors have to perform in this narrow window of opportunity after so much training and preparation. WorldSkills, like the Olympics events also provide an opportunity to observe and learn about industries that you may not be ordinarily exposed to.
It’s also interesting to observe the reactions and emotions of the competitors once results are realised. Competition, and in particular Olympic style competition, has the habit of bringing out the best in people. The joy from competitors who receive a medal they didn’t expect to win. The reactions when favoured competitors do not achieve what they were hoping, and often the sportsmanship and humility of those who admit to being beaten by someone better on the day but vowing to work harder to do better next time.
There has been a lot of discussion about whether the current Olympic Team has ‘underperformed’. I personally don’t subscribe to this as they are purely looking at Gold medal tallies. If you look at the total number of medals won, Australia would be in the top ten easily and that is a much better reflection on how we have gone in my opinion.
Having said this, comparatively the Australian WorldSkills Team (the “Skillaroos”) have been ranked in the top five (out of 52 member countries) in the past two international competitions. In the last International Team that competed in London, 9 out of 28 competitors won medals. Aside from these 9, another 15 won medallions of excellence for outstanding performance in their field. Just as in the Olympics, many other countries attribute much larger resources and money to the campaigns, so that makes these figures even more impressive.
Our skill competitors deserve admiration for how they have performed. Just as sport plays a valuable part in the Australian way of life, so do skills and skill development. Without the skill industries, there would be no stadiums to hold the games, nor catering to feed the people or clothing for the runners to run in (that could be interesting).
The next Skillaroos team will be selected after the National WorldSkills Competition that is taking place in Homebush Sydney from the 30th August to the 1st of September. The general public are most welcome and entry is free. The bricklaying competition is a highlight of the event and the ABBTF “speed test” at lunchtime on Thursday the 30th of August should not be missed.
Bricklaying Category Expert, WorldSkills,
A/Head Teacher – Civil Engineering, Surveying and Mapping
TAFE NSW – Illawarra Institute, Wollongong Campus
There have been some misconceptions and assumptions made in relation to this topic in the last 12 months. As such I wanted to write this blog to clear up the issue and hopefully put our stakeholders at ease.
Back in 2008, the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) agreed to introduce a national licensing system with the principal goal of reforming existing regulatory requirements and process’s.
Legislation was introduced to form a National Occupational Licensing Authority (NOLA), whereby they could maintain and administer a public register of all trade licensees. This system has been created as an important tool for clients and builders when selecting licensed tradesman to undertake work.
National Licensing reform is also expected to improve occupational health and safety conditions, boost labour availability and labour mobility given that a licensed tradesman will be able to move from state to state. In implementing this system, NOLA is consulting with industry to seek advice and feedback relating to industry standards, practices and expectations.
Consultation with industry is ongoing in relation to the impact of trade licence reform, legislation framework and regulation. IAC’s or Interim Advisory Committees have been formed for the first round of national licences which are expected to be introduced by 2013. These include:
• Electrical Occupations
• Plumbing and Gas Fitting
• Property Occupations
• Refrigeration & Air Conditioning.
These groups have since come together to develop elements of the licensing policy which included licence categories and types, scope of work, skilled and non skilled eligibility criteria and licensing characteristics including exemptions and restrictions.
Further to this, other building related trade licensing (including bricklaying) discussions have been suspended until such time that the above trade areas have been implemented. Discussions and consultation is not expected to resume until at least May 2014.
It must be said however that even if the current COAG agenda was implemented in its entirety, WA would be under no obligation to licence trades not currently covered! In the mean time however, ABBTF in WA will continue to promote the value of trade qualifications. This is why ABBTF provides a $400 tool voucher for any bricklayer in WA who obtains his trade qualification through recognition of prior learning (RPL) or trade skill recognition (TSR) through a quality training provider.
Some builders are now encouraging their trades to gain their qualifications through this system, especially those who have been working in the industry for some time and currently or previously have hosted or employed apprentices. This makes sense given that builders need to build the best product that they can and demonstrate in the process that they are using quality trades.
WA Manager, ABBTF