With all the talk of the mining boom, the federal government has released some interesting new figures to put the mining industry in perspective with other industries. In Australia, the construction industry employs over 1 million workers. It’s one of the three largest employing industries along with retail and healthcare. At FCTA (a leading Registered Training Organisation in SA) we have many students talking about getting in on the mining boom. For some, this is a great opportunity, for others it means long working hours, time spent away from family and friends and increased rates of violence, gambling and drinking problems. More information about the 'dark side' of the mining boom can be found in these articles from The Australian, WA Today, & The Queensland University of Technology website.
In contrast, the construction industry offers many people the ability to become their own boss, and manage their work around their family and social priorities. Over the five years to November 2011, employment in Construction increased by 10.7% (or 100,700). This growth was mainly driven by Construction Services (up by 47,500) and Building Construction (21,700). Construction employment is expected to rise by 131,200 (or 12.6%) over the next five years, with most new jobs expected to continue to be created in Construction Services. Compare industries’ Expected Growth Rates to 2016-17 and Employment Numbers in these downloads. For a full review of employment prospects in various industries in the next few years, download the new DEEWR report, Australian Jobs 2012.
For people interested in working in the construction industry, FCTA - Building Careers in South Australia has pre-apprenticeship courses, including bricklaying, commencing July 30th and October 15th.
Trisch Baff, Marketing & Project Manager,
FCTA – Building Careers
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
One of the toughest challenges for young apprentices is when they see unqualified labourers on job sites being paid more than apprentices. This is because the lower wages paid to an apprentice are supposed to compensate for the cost of their training and education.
When times are good, it becomes even more frustrating for apprentices as many unqualified workers enter the market. BUT when the industry slows down, those with qualifications and skills training are better prepared to weather the storm.
Recently an unqualified builder in South Australia was found guilty of operating without a license or qualifications. He was fined $8000 for trading unlicensed, and was ordered to pay $6020 in compensation. My advice to apprentices is to stick at your apprenticeship. In the long run you’ll have many more options than unqualified labourer’s. Plus, you’ll be on your way to becoming a licensed builder.
We’re a trades training organisation that is constantly being asked about the best way to find out about becoming a bricklayer and we believe we have the answer.
We always recommend a 10-12 week pre-apprenticeship course. It gives you a great idea as to what to expect in the trade. Our focus at Holden Hill’s SA FCTA- Building Careers, is on developing practical skills. Some students who come to us are seriously worried about being placed in a classroom most the day – instead of outside, really doing things. Well, that’s not a problem here! Right from day 1 you’re learning to lay bricks. We’re 2 days into our latest pre-apprenticeship course, and as you can see, the students are already being shown the basics and getting their hands dirty!
There are similar pre-apprenticeship courses around Australia, and the Become a Bricklayer website will explain this. Here in SA, the Construction Industry Training Board (CITB) funds this course, with a view to having students better prepared and ready to start laying bricks as soon as they secure an apprenticeship. This gives them a real edge over others who haven’t had this early experience.
FCTA is a training organisation (it stands for Flexible Construction & Training Assessment) and it’s called ‘flexible’ because we have a very flexible attitude to training for both students and employers! Check us out.