Advice for Landing the Apprenticeship
The following is advice you may wish to consider when making contact with a bricklayer for the first time, for the purpose of getting a bricklaying apprenticeship or re-engaging to an existing one.
Bricklayers are generally paid on the basis of their productivity and as such have a low tolerance for time wasters or people that do not answer or return calls or turn up late for appointments.
They also set high expectations for employees based on their own work ethic.
Having said that, in my experience bricklayers are decent people who are fair and appreciative of initiative and hard work.
The following pointers have been developed on the basis of my own contact with bricklayers, the ABBTF placement program and past marketing and sales experiences.
The Initial Phone Conversation
The best time to phone a bricklayer is when he is on a break or finished work. Whilst no two teams are the same, most bricklayers will break around 11am for about 30 minutes. Finish times vary depending on start times, the volume of work and weather conditions. However, this is generally around 3pm.
When you call the bricklayer, cover off on the following:
- Introduce yourself and verify that you are speaking to the right person “Good morning my name is [John Smith], may I speak to [Jack Jones] please?”
- When you have the bricklayer on the line, briefly explain the reason why you are calling and include that you have been in contact with the ABBTF.
- Be sure to mention any experience, past knowledge obtained and reason for wanting to become a bricklayer or complete your apprenticeship.
- Offer to come out and meet the bricklayer on site ASAP and thank him for his time.
Meeting the Bricklayer for the First Time on Site
For some people, meeting others for the first time can be a daunting experience. Remember though, the person you are meeting has probably had to do the same at some point in their lives also. Be neatly dressed and turn your phone to silent.
First impressions count for much and as such the first thing you need to achieve is good punctuality (Be on time!). This means that if the bricklayer has agreed to meet you at 7.30am, you should be there at 7.20am. Check the address the night before, not on the way there!
I have followed this rule for most of my working life and it makes a big difference. It also demonstrates straight away that you are keen!
Make sure you are also armed with your resume and references if you have any.
When you have arrived, verify that you are talking to the right person and introduce yourself once more. This is important as there is a fair chance that the bricklayer may have forgotten your name.
Next and this is crucial, a firm hand shake whilst looking the person in the eye is a skill that will serve you well for not only in your working life but also in your social life!
Making Starting Arrangements
Given that the bricklayer needs to verify that you are keen and you have some basic skills, he will need to see you work. Under the State award (in WA) this should be no longer than one week and must lead to a genuine apprenticeship opportunity.
Whether you have trowel skills or not, this is time to sell yourself. The most impressive apprentices I have ever met are the ones that rarely need be asked to do something.
The building site has a lot of material, product and waste that needs to be managed. All jokes aside, if you do not know how to use a broom and shovel, get someone to show you ASAP as there is always something to clean up!
Your initiative, drive and enthusiasm will ultimately determine whether you pick up an apprenticeship or not and will influence how much effort your employer puts into your training. If you want to get on the trowel, you need to do the other things right first. Yes, it is a test! This includes mixing mud, moving bricks and setting out. What makes a good bricklayer?
In any team environment there will always be varying relationship dynamics. However, most people, including your employer, will afford you respect if you listen well, have the right mindset to learn the trade properly, work effectively with others and demonstrate continuous initiative!
Lastly look after yourself on site, use personal protective equipment and take a hat, sunscreen and lots of water. Eat and sleep well the night before and enjoy yourself on the day!
ABBTF WA State Manager