A Win at the Golden Trowel is a Massive Confidence Boost

Winning Team Image 1 wth captionFor the second time in three competitions Coffs Harbour has taken out the coveted Golden Trowel Award.  What’s the secret guys?  Is it Paul Venn, a three-time winner who was trainer of the 2011 Coffs team of talented bricklayers Dwayne Potter and Ian Cutmore?  Or is it something in the air at Coffs Harbour?

The 2015 Golden Trowel Award went to Paul and his very competent fellow team members, bricklaying students Michael Bonar and Jacob Wade of TAFE Coffs Harbour.  The team takes away the Golden Trowel trophy while TAFE Coffs Harbour again becomes the proud winner of the Challenge Shield.

Third year apprentice Michael Bonar, was also TAFE Coffs Harbour’s representative for the WorldSkills competition. After winning he said, “Our team worked really well together and it feels really incredible that we won. This win has really boosted my belief in myself that I have it in me, that I can do it. I now have so much more confidence in my abilities.” Great feedback Michael, thanks.

Of his team mates Paul said “I am incredibly proud of my apprentices and the journey they have taken to this victory.  They had a good plan; they worked very hard and overcame their initial nervousness to triumph in this competition.” More on Paul’s 2011 team success.

At ABBTF we’re very proud to be leading sponsor of the Award.  I know that from the experiences of prior winners, with the Golden Trowel under the belt, the apprentices, Michael and Jacob, will have a head start in the brick and blocklaying trade and the construction industry.  We will follow their careers with great interest.  Congratulations go to all team members for being selected and I know the experience will serve all apprentices well as you complete your training and enter the workforce.

Jacob Paul & Michael Image 2 wth captionBut it was far from any easy contest.  The teams were marked according to precision of the blocklaying which in some cases came down to the difference of a millimetre or two.  There were 11 teams from NSW, ACT and Qld, showcasing the very best in blocklaying apprentices and it was a close call.  Within a limited timeframe, the competition required them to build a concrete masonry structure with intricate detailing.  As shown in the image above, this year’s ‘castle’ theme required them to include the shape of a trowel in the main wall, with paved steps and two turrets.  The teams were judged based on precision, craftsmanship and conformity to the design specifications.


Speaking for the judges, Ray Mouthaan, teacher at Hunter TAFE and competition director, said, “This year’s design proved to be challenging and many of the teams produced excellent work especially given the time pressure. When judging their work we had to measure every surface, level, line and finish. The judges from industry and TAFE were impressed with the quality of the work and we needed the full ten-page marking scale to separate the teams.”

The competition is organised by the CMAA in cooperation with TAFE and the Australian Brick and Blocklaying Training Foundation (ABBTF), and was held for three days up to 13 October at the Wollongong Campus of TAFE NSW – Illawarra Institute.

Elizabeth McIntyre, Chief Executive Officer of the CMAA, congratulated the Coffs Harbour TAFE team for winning the 2015 Golden Trowel competition, which is the only concrete blocklaying competition in Australia. She said “The competition not only develops their blocklaying skills but also incorporates other skills such as time management and planning which is a good learning experience for all the competitors.”

Apps & Teachers TAFE Illawarra Image 3 V2 wth captionGeoff Noble

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