Our NSW-ACT Regional Manager, Brendan Coyle has an interesting story on his own career path through bricklaying. It’s one chock-full of learnings on navigating a path from successful skilled bricklayer to a Regional Manager at ABBTF, where he’s responsible for reducing the skills shortage of qualified bricklayers in his region.
First touching the bricks as a 13 year-old in Ireland and apprenticed at 15 Brendan has seen it all in terms of the youthful experiences, good and bad, of a bricklaying career. There have been many periods of very good income and opportunities to see the world but also, adjustments and big decisions to take when work was hard to find. One such experience landed him in Australia at the age of 21 where he continued to do well on the trowel for some years.
Like many brickies have done, during a period of downturn here, he looked to see how else he could use his bricklaying skills and as a result his progression through and upwards in the building and construction industry began in earnest. Over time Brendan went from Sales Representative to Sales Manager for a brick manufacturer and also found the time to continue his studies. When he thought he needed a promotion he jumped into a construction product sales role that initially, he admits to knowing nothing about but as a result, he learned a lot. Later he found himself at Boral ‘where they like to get people with a trades background but it’s hard to make the shift directly from the trowel to the office’. Brendan says about coping with the cyclical nature of the industry “My advice is to manage your career… hedge your bets so you have options” when times are tough or if you need a change.
He’s also adamant though that an apprenticeship in bricklaying gives you a skill you’ll be able to apply for many years and one you’ll never regret acquiring. For a healthy, youthful person it opens doors to a good wage and a desirable outdoors lifestyle.
“When you build something and lay bricks you have a finished product. I still drive past buildings and say ‘I built that’. It’s the best feeling in the world. Working in the construction industry is actually fun. I know that apprentices can have a tough time and are pushed hard, but it’s because employers want them to survive. If apprentices can get through the start and the tough years then they’ll be able to survive in the longer term”. Bricklaying- Best Entry Point to Construction
For apprentices just starting out on their career he has a couple of tips:
“There’s not much you can’t complete and get done when you need it done”, and
“I always found out who was the best at what they were doing and spent time with them.”
To read more on Brendan’s journey, he spoke about his own career development in a ‘Trade Talk’ interview with Tradie Exchange. Tradie Exchange is a networking platform which connects Builders, Tradies and Suppliers for jobs and the trade.