The month of July 2016 brought the ABBTF NSW team to the town of Goulburn, population 24,000, 2.1 hours south of Sydney. The goal was set: to accomplish a Step Out Program in the period of three days with the keen and eager students at the local High School…seemed do-able!
Arriving on the Wednesday 20th, we had a great start with blue skies all materials in place and a plan to build two projects in the grounds of Goulburn High School. These are great assignments, as they give students a taste of bricklaying and they add value to the school grounds, where you thereafter will hear the sounds of ‘I built that!”
With students ranging from Year 10 to Year 12, some with more experience than the others who had previously completed Step Outs, we had a mixture of talent! That’s fine, what really matters is that all students get a taste for what makes a good bricklayer and if we’ve done our job, they’ll ask themselves, ‘Is this the apprenticeship for me?’
First job for the day, the students had to lay two courses of bricks around what eventually will be an outdoor learning area. Although challenging, with step-ups every 2-3 metres, it wasn’t too difficult.
Next job was larger: a double brick garden bed at seating height, which will be completed by render at a later date.
Day 2, Thursday arrives and the infamous Goulburn wet weather awakens us and forces us to call a halt for the day. Regrettably, again, the following morning was just as bad weather as the day before!
With real disappointment felt by all involved, we packed our bags and headed home to Sydney until further notice and a new date could be set for completion of the Goulburn High Step Out.
Without too much complication, and a check on the weather forecast, I made our return date for Friday August 5th. It was a hesitant start to the day, as once again we woke to rain, but the clouds miraculously parted just before 9.00am, and led us into what was a great day weather-wise, giving us the time needed to complete the planned Step Out project!
The students were such a great and enthusiastic group, whom at no stage lacked drive and their all-round hard-working country ways made the task at hand all that more enjoyable! With the guidance of the senior teacher James Henry, they were ready and willing to go from 8.00am – an hour earlier than usual school start time – which in itself was a remarkable sign of willingness.
All in all, after the set backs in hand, we managed to complete two interesting brickwork building jobs, which will make valuable contributions and be appreciated by Goulburn High for many years to come!
Step Out Programs (SOP) introducing the building trade of bricklaying are available to all secondary schools in the nation by calling ABBTF on 1300 66 44 96 or by Email request. Like all ABBTF programs, SOP’s are funded by the brick and blocklaying industry by a small levy on the sale of clay bricks and concrete masonry with a matching contribution from brick and block manufacturers, for the purpose of increasing apprenticeships and hence reducing the skills shortage in our industry. For NSW bricklaying training locations Click Here.
ABBTF NSW Field Representative