Getting on the trowel early is key to good, fast learning

josh-steevensI started my apprenticeship when I was 18. In hindsight a little later than I would’ve liked, but it probably worked out well, reinforcing that bricklaying was something I really wanted to do…and not just a cop out of school.

Bricklaying wasn’t a desirable trade to the majority at the time, and that was something that appealed to me. People shied away from the “dirty, hard work” image the trade has, and would rather be a sparky or a chippy, and doing something different as well as something that people knew was tough going was rewarding.

The first week was everything like everyone said, fast and hard. I can remember it being hot all week and my boss had a big crew, so I was thrown in the deep end straight away labouring for about 4-5 blokes. But after the first couple of weeks I got used to it and started enjoying it.

Also with my boss having a large crew, it was difficult at first to get on the trowel, because there was simply not enough time.

But with the introduction of the first home buyers grant, the construction boom was an open invitation for most of the brickies in the crew to go out on their own and make some better money. This gave me the opportunity I needed to start learning how to lay bricks, and I can remember thinking how easy my bosses made it look.

I was lucky that once I started on the trowel, I never really got off, and I think that is the key to good, fast learning. Not a day here or there. Everyday.

I’m now a qualified bricklayer with my own business.  I have one apprentice at the moment, it took a few blokes to get the right one, but that’s part of the game.

I love having an apprentice on board, it makes things easier on me and I can show him the things my bosses showed me and give him a career. I would love to take on more apprentices in the future, possibly even in the next couple of months.

The ABBTF subsidies really come in handy when hiring an apprentice, because teaching them does cost time. It also compensates for the time they are at TAFE and not onsite, and all in all I think is a good concept and something that needs to be a permanent incentive for employers.

I wonder if other brickies have shared the same positive experience I had starting out, especially good time on the trowel.  I’d like to get your comments here.

Josh Steevens,
Bricklayer, Business Owner

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