Geoff Noble


From Brickies Apprentice to Chief of the Defence Force

Getting a foothold in the employment market is the first important step after schooling, whether you finish at secondary or tertiary level. And where you go beyond bricklaying is anyone’s guess – it’s all up to you. Take the stories behind some famous and greatly admired people for example, who either got their start in Bricklaying or used the trade to help ground and to gain a useful trade to fall back on, while they took a risk and shot to stardom.

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Bricklaying is what happened while Sam was making other plans

Learning about Sam Worthington’s progress from bricklayer to movie star for this blog, made me reflect on those John Lennon lines, ‘Life is what happens while you’re making other plans’. What took Sam, who was probably always destined for acting, from bricklaying and other construction roles, along a very tenuous, high risk path in pursuit of fame? I think I could take a pretty good stab at how bricklaying became a formative part of his journey.

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Female Bricklayers Prove to be Inspirational

A recent decision to provide an added financial incentive for bricklaying employers to take on female apprentices has focused our minds on some of the great women currently in our trade. As a result, we’ve collected and published just a few examples that reflect the wide diversity of experience and career development existing in the current crop of women in Bricklaying.

It will surprise many readers of our Blog that there are many very successful women in the trade. Some have come through family connections, for sure, but many others have recognised an opportunity to pursue a career in construction that keeps them out of doors, committed to fitness and wellbeing, working with their hands and they cleverly recognise that it’s a trade that opens doors to much advancement.

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Winston Churchill, Britain’s Most Famous Statesman and Bricklayer

People take up bricklaying for different reasons. Research tells us that many young apprentices say the main reason is that they enjoy ‘working with their hands’. If you look a bit deeper into this, without getting too philosophical about it, I think there’s something about the enjoyment of ‘creating’ in bricks that delivers real satisfaction, akin to other crafts, which keeps people in this game all their lives.

A really interesting example of someone who had a mighty big job in politics but who sought enjoyment and pleasure in bricklaying was the British statesman Winston Churchill.

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Get up to Scratch on Bricklayer Apprentice Workplace Entitlements and Pay

A really ingenious information tool was developed and launched last month by the Fair Work Ombudsman, designed to ensure both employers and apprentices know their rights and obligations to each other. It’s called Workplace Basics and it’s a quiz, broken into seven areas or modules, all up covering the vast majority of questions relating to workplace Award wage rates and conditions.

While it’s not only for Bricklaying, most of the issues are directly relevant, and you choose the modules you want to run through. Besides the quiz, Fair Work offers a lot more in-depth information at their website should you need it.

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ABBTF Sun Smart Alert to Bricklayers

With a forecast for an extremely hot and long summer, I’d like to remind bricklayers and apprentices of the need to cover up and use sunscreen while on the job, to protect you from skin cancer.

Already we have experienced unseasonal very high temperatures during the month of November.

I encourage all bricklayers to wear a hat, available from your ABBTF State Office if you wish, and to apply the new ABBTF 30+ sunscreen to avoid damage from the sun’s rays.

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A Win at the Golden Trowel is a Massive Confidence Boost

For 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 team takes away the Golden Trowel trophy while TAFE Coffs Harbour again becomes the proud winner of the Challenge Shield.

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Sam Spong’s Journey from Bricklaying Apprentice to International Winner

The last four years have been an exciting and rewarding period in the life of Sam Spong. From the time he first entered Regional WorldSkills in 2011 up to his 2015 WorldSkills International success bringing home Bronze for Australian bricklaying, he’s consistently applied his skills and training, practised hard and maintained a ‘will-to-win’, that’s paid off bigtime.

When he earned the right to enter the National’s in 2012, Sam was 19 and in his third year of his apprenticeship with Job Harkness of J&S Harkness. Job was Australian WorldSkills National Champion 2001 and as such was very inspirational in helping Sam aim high. See WorldSkills International Honour Roll.

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Sydney Industry Rallies to Find Solutions to Bricklaying Skills Shortage

In the light of ongoing challenges in meeting the bricklayer shortage in NSW, the industry joined together for discussions on the evening of Wednesday, September 23 at Rooty Hill RSL. The night was co-ordinated by ABBTF NSW, and manufacturers Adbri Masonry, Austral Masonry, Austral Bricks, Baines Masonry, Boral Bricks, Namoi Valley Bricks and PGH Bricks and Pavers. The three hour meeting was attended by 80 guests including builders, bricklaying contractors, Group Training Organisations and industry associations.

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Namoi Valley Bricks Provides Support for the Trade

We hear often about the challenge and the wins in addressing the bricklayer skill shortage in Sydney, but valuable support from regional brick manufacturers such as Namoi Valley (NV) Bricks often goes unnoticed.

NV Bricks at Gunnedah is constantly on the lookout for young talented people to start an apprenticeship with local tradesmen and is a great advocate for ABBTF’s program to increase the number of bricklaying apprentices entering our trade.

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Interested in trying Bricklaying? Then please contact us on 1300 30 44 77