Apprenticeship Success Stories

Profiles of bricklaying apprentices who have gone on to further success

Alan Ramsden

Since starting his apprenticeship, Alan has collected a large number of awards for his work. In 2013 he competed at the International WorldSkills Competition in Leipzig, Germany, winning the Medal of Excellence. Prior to this, Alan was awarded Best MBA/ABBTF Bricklaying Apprentice (2011), Best 1st Year HIA Bricklaying Apprentice (2012), Best 2nd Year HIA Bricklaying Apprentice (2013), and very recently in June 2014, Alan was awarded the Best 3rd Year HIA Bricklaying Apprentice, Best 3rd Year Overall Apprentice and Best HIA Apprentice for 2014. When asked about his most recent win, Alan stated he feels “more proud and honoured than ever”.

As for the favourite part of his apprenticeship, Alan stated that the entire journey has been incredibly enjoyable, “It’s taken me across the world”, he said. He also pointed out his physical health and fitness have improved and strengthened over the years of his apprenticeship due to the nature of the work itself.

Manager of ABBTF Western Australia, Dean Pearson, describes Alan as the “most current champion” of ABBTF, a hardworking and skillful young person who now has a fantastic trade to forever be able to use.

Since completing his apprenticeship, Alan has continued to work for his host but will be going out to work for himself in the next few months. His next great ambition is to join the Australian Defence Forces in the Special Air Services SAS/Commando Division. Despite this, Alan knows that bricklaying is what he will always come back to. Good luck Alan from ABBTF, we look forward to hearing about your future achievements.

To young people considering a bricklaying apprenticeship, Alan says “Go for it. Have fun. It’s great money and so much freedom.”

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Mike Butler

The story so far…

After completing his bricklaying apprenticeship Mike and a mate from TAFE started their own business which they ran successfully.

Thinking of the bigger picture, Mike was interested in seeing what else related to bricklaying and moved onto AV Jennings as an estimator and ended up in charge of product development of new houses.

While at Jennings he completed a part-time marketing degree becoming the Direct Marketing Manager then progressed to become the National Marketing Manager.

Moving to Australand in 1999, Mike was appointed Manager of Australand, a leading national building company.

At TAFE Mike won the Bronze medallion, which is recognition of his trade and he was also awarded apprentice of the year.

You can visit the Australand website at

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Nick Bianco

The story so far…

Nick is a real success story, running his company Bianco Construction Supplies.

The company supplies hardware, machinery, safety products, reinforcing and structural steel to the construction industry as well as providing a portable building hire service for the mining and construction industries and government utilities throughout Australia.

Nick now owns the Adelaide United Soccer Club and is a major sponsor of Port Power. He has several honours including an AM and is well known in Adelaide and interstate. Nick Bianco was a national finalist in the 2008 Entrepreneur of the Year awards.

The following quotation in the Westpac Banking publication “101 Tips for Business Success” personifies Nick Bianco.

“Treat staff as family and it will be reciprocated. Support local organisations and charities. A business that only makes a profit isn’t a profitable business.”

Nick Bianco has achieved all this after starting out as a bricklaying apprentice.

The ABBTF believes his success shows that bricklaying is a career path that young people, with the right attitude and determination can pursue, to go to the very top just like Nick Bianco.

We salute Nick Bianco on his achievements.

You can visit Bianco Construction Supplies at

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Nigel Croke

The story so far…

Nigel Croke, Australia’s bricklaying contestant at the WorldSkills competition, held at Calgary, Canada, has won a Bronze Medal competing against the best in the world.

He finished in a tie for the Bronze Medal while the Gold was tied between Korea and Finland. Nigel was just .6 of a point from winning Gold. The competition was of such a high standard, the mark Nigel achieved, would have won the last four international competitions.

Troy Everett, the bricklaying teacher who worked with Nigel before the competition also deserves a pat on the back for his efforts in supporting, training and mentoring Nigel before and at the event.

Nigel, has been supported throughout by ABBTF. He has expressed his gratitude to his Trainer Troy Everett at TAFE who helped him hone his bricklaying skills and all those poeple who helped and encouraged him along the way to his memorable journey.

Nigel’s employer, during his four year training at Bathurst TAFE was Bill Searl. Nigel frequently travelled over 1 1/2 hours to Crookwell to work.

He qualified for WorldSkills through preliminary competition in the Macquarie region and paid tribute to his employer and his TAFE trainer, Peter Moore. He is now based in Sydney and working in his own business.

“Nigel is a wonderful ambassador for Australian bricklaying and winning the Bronze Medal in Canada, against tough competition, is a great effort. We have been delighted to support Nigel throught the selection proccess and for his challenge on the international scene,” said Geoff Noble, ABBTF’s General Manager.

For further information on the WorldSkills competition, go to
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Lester Tibbles

…The story so far

NSW bricklayer, Lester Tibbles, won the bricklaying competition at the 2010 National WorldSkills competition held in Brisbane in May and went on to win Bronze for Australia at WorldSkills London 2011 .

Lester won the 2010 national competition, by a whisker, from the Tasmanian contestant Ben Barratt with Daniel Dovern from Illawarra taking out the Bronze Medal.

Lester also won the speed bricklaying component of the competition making him “The Gun Trowel”. He was presented with the Gun Trowel trophy sponsored by ABBTF.

Geoff Noble, ABBTF’s General Manager said, “It is such a great event as it gives our best and brightest young apprentices a chance to compete at a national level and also provides a forum to show off their skills. WorldSkills Australia clearly demonstrates that bricklaying is a real craft and ranks high as a trade in the construction industry.

Geoff Noble paid tribute to the TAFE trainers and employers who work closely with the contestants to help them reach competition level.

“The organiser of the bricklaying competition, Troy Everett, deserves his own medal for the enormous amount of planning and coordination of the event which has set the standard for other trades at WorldSkills.

“Troy coached successive WorldSkills international Bronze winners in bricklaying, Nigel Croke, and Lester. Training for this level is intense, honing skills and ensuring peak readiness for the International stage,” Geoff concluded.  And it paid off bigtime with Lester bringing home Bronze for his trade!  Congratulations Lester.

For further information on the WorldSkills competition, go to


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Peter Carr

The story so far…

Peter, who teaches at Rockhampton campus, received the CSQ’s Individual Trainer of the Year award at a gala presentation ceremony at the Brisbane Convention and Entertertainment Centre.

Peter started as a brickie’s labourer in 1992 and completed his apprenticeship in 1997. He worked both part time and full time in the industry. In 2000 he started a law degree while working part time as a bricklayer and from 2004-2006 he worked for a law firm.

In 2007 he commenced working for CQ TAFE as a brick and blocklaying trainer, as well as developing the online course content.

Peter Carr’s creation and the addition of online resource components to his bricklaying courses, allowing more flexibility for employers and their employees, was one of the reasons why judges awarded him the title.

He was overwhelmed by the win and proud just to have been nominated.

“I fell very honoured. I think that it is great that a regional TAFE receives some recognition for their training initiatives, Peter Carr said. “The online training aspect was a part of the reason for the win, but I think that maintaining relationships with industry was also important, as well as trying to develop ways to deliver training in a more flexible manner,” Peter added.

He said his bricklaying ccourse was still progressing well, with the online component helping deliver training to more remote apprentices and those looking to progress through more quickly.

Now there’s an achiever!

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Mark Baker

The story so far…

“The knowledge I acquired from carpentry and bricklaying also made learning other trades achievable”, said Mark. “I then went on to achieve skills in tiling, concreting, painting, brick paving, operating machinery and scaffolding,” he added.

In 1992 he started his own business partnerhip MR & TN Baker Bricklaying cconstructing homes for Plunkett Homes.

His main ambition was to provide quality workmanship. In 1997 and 2003 his company was recognised with Master Builders Building Excellence Awards, winning two silver trowel awards.

As if this was not enough, Mark began working as a casual lecturer at Bunbury South West Regional College in 2004.

In typical Mark Baker fashion he was dedicated to teaching from the start, ensuring each student received constant individual tuition and understood the delivery of the assignment. This included making adjustments to assignments, where needed, to benefit the student’s outcome.

“As an employer, I always ensured that all employees practice safe operation of all tools and machinery to minimise the risk of injury. This safety philosophy has also been applied to my students,” Mark added.

Now a full time senior lecturer at South West Regional College, Mark recently completed a Master Builders Safety Course,further adding to his skills.

He has now worked, with his training colleagues, on the development of a new flexible training program based on a practical project which is supported by skills progression or milestones indicating skills needed in a particular time period.

“The program is designed to separate training from assessment so that we take into account ‘skills on-site. If skills can be demonstrated on-site and meet the skills progression milestones, the off-site training component may not be required. This involves regular site visits to carry out assessments, as well as talking to the employer about the students real life progress.

“Put simply, this practical project and all of its content will simulate the real thing. Students will be able to research all the components on line from suggested websites. This is flexible and self paced learning, critical to the needs of students and industry,” Mark continued enthusiastically.

The new flexible training program has been supported and endorsed by ABBTF. We think bricklaying students are in good hands when you look at Mark’s achievements and skills, as well as his commitment to the trade.

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Interested in trying Bricklaying? Then please contact us on 1300 66 44 96