Which Bricklayer Training Matters Most?

Bricklayer TrainingThere is regular debate on the value of bricklayer training conducted on the job site versus that conducted off-site, at a TAFE/RTO training centre. The answer is that both are very valuable – ABBTF’s view is that a blended model combining on and offsite experience gives the best results and the contributions are very different in nature.

You might be surprised to know that some Registered Training Organisations (RTO’s) deliver up to 100% of bricklayer training on-site. But to be successful, it relies heavily on the contractor having both the skills and time to train the apprentice in circumstances where the commercial pressures of getting enough bricks laid often impacts on the quality of training. Checklist of Employer on-site training responsibilities.

On-site (also known as on-the-job training) works well when the relationship is strong, for example involving a father and son or when the apprentice is specifically being trained with a view to his being part of a rapidly growing business.   On-site training has the obvious benefit of learning on a real job rather than in a simulated environment. Most important though is ensuring the apprentice has time on the trowel and learns all facets of bricklaying and in line with the developmental stages of the training program. However, when bricklaying rates are low and the apprentice spends long periods on the mixer or loading up jobs, he or she risks missing out on essential, good quality training. ABBTF is aware that despite TAFE/RTO onsite supervision, sometimes apprentices are being ticked off as competent when in fact they have not gained the skills required by the training package.

The onsite apprentice assessment process by the RTO can also be seriously flawed when competency is judged on the completed job rather than seeing how the work was planned and built progressively by the apprentice.

Off-the-job training has the advantage of close supervision and teaching as well as an enthusiastic learning culture which exists in a group of young people at the same stage of training. Work is simulated to satisfy the requirements of the training package but will not always replicate the variety of conditions and challenges experienced on a job site. This is why on-site working and training is an important complimentary part to off-site training. Apprentices Off-site Training – How it Works

Off-site training can also provide the tools and materials to complete a wide range of projects not always seen on a job site, extending the apprentice’s knowledge and opportunity to consider different long term directions within bricklaying. Other advantages of off-site training are that the learning experience is not hampered by bad weather and skilled qualified trainers are always on hand to educate, assist and inspire. Many Regional WorldSkills contenders have been born out of their off-site training experience.

Off-site training also delivers the extremely important theory and underpinning knowledge required by the training package which makes up the Apprenticeship Certificate III qualification.

ABBTF is encouraged by a number of TAFE’s that have moved from a 100% off-site model to a blended arrangement – with the aim of producing well-trained craftsmen and women to continue the tradition of quality bricklaying. Stronger, supportive relationships are being developed between these TAFEs and the employer because of the joint, more direct interest in the Apprentice.  I’d like to see them share their apprentice training outcomes and results from blended arrangements with other TAFE’s and RTOs. After all, every training organisation wants to produce the best possible apprentices and they play a major role in creating the skilled, qualified bricklaying workforce needed for the future.

What do you think? Send me your comments in the Blog or contact me at 1300 66 44 96.


Geoff Noble

6 Responses to “Which Bricklayer Training Matters Most?”

  1. David O'Sullivan

    I totally agree that a blended approach is key to providing the apprentice with the best training model. Off-site training in an RTO provided by experienced trainers can accelerate a young persons learning, and allow them to quickly develop skills to a level where they can transfer them directly to the job site. This in turn makes the apprentice a viable employee who can begin to pay their way from day one. This training model places a much greater emphasis on nurturing hand skills and bricklaying fundamentals, as opposed to using the apprentice as a labourer/bricky for the first six to twelve months of their apprenticeship. The skills the apprentice has developed are further enhanced and added to as they move from project to project with their employer, but also return to the RTO for further off-site training. This training, as was stated in the article allows the apprentice to develop and fine tune skills related to bricklaying disciplines that they might not otherwise encounter with their employer. Theoretical concepts related to new technologies and new and existing building methods presented during training can further enhance the knowledge bank of an apprentice and ultimately benefit the employer and industry as a whole as we move towards a zero carbon society.

  2. Bev Johnson

    Employers aren’t taking on apprentices and perhaps this is because schools don’t prepare students to become apprentices. We need RTOs to develop work ready potential employees before employers will take them on.
    Once in the workplace, I agree that employees will become good employees faster than they will in a simulated environment.

  3. Chelsi

    Thanks for revealing your ideas. A very important factor is that college students have a solution between national student loan and a private student loan where it truly is easier to choose student loan connslidatiog debts than through the federal education loan.

  4. Michael

    Hi I am looking at purchasing some books what would you choose so if you know the best books to purchase for bricklaying,
    Thanks, Michael

  5. Michael

    Hi I am looking for the top 10 books to purchase to help me become a bricklayer if you can help that would be great,
    Thanks, Michael


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