The Reality of a New Apprentice Onsite


Recently we collected a few off-the-cuff responses from some South Australian apprentices on their early impressions on the job, giving a realistic insight into what it’s like starting out in bricklaying:

They said about their first day:

  • “The first day was ‘Bloody Hot’ in the middle of an SA summer.”
  • “It was a lot harder than expected with mixing mud and stacking bricks, but it felt good to work hard.  Slept well that night.”
  • “I was thinking what am I doing?  But it got easier.”

Expectations from their bosses were:

  • To follow instructions and take the time to make sure you do things right.
  • To mix a consistent standard of mortar and to keep in front of the brickies.
  • Stack bricks, mix mortar and clean the site.

We asked: What was the ‘real world’ like as a bricklayer now and did it get better?

  • “Much better, less of the labouring side, more laying bricks, watching my boss and trying to keep up and copy his actions.”
  • “It’s not as bad now because I am stronger and my body is used to the work.  I do a lot less labouring and would be laying bricks 90% of the time.”
  • “It’s good now, I get to lay bricks full time, set out brickwork and do most things the boss would.  I have always enjoyed it.”

The apprentices added some unforgettable humorous moments on site:

  • “My boss falling in a barrow of mud down the hill.”
  • A co-worker was shadow boxing a bag of lime and it busted and covered him from head to toe.  He was coughing up lime for a week.”
  • Dropping my first barrow of mortar, slipped trying to get a run up to go up a hill, barrow went over.  I fell in the mortar, while the boss watched and laughed.  One of the boss’s policies was, if you drop a barrow of mud, then you have to buy a carton of beer out of your wage.  This hurts when you’re only a first year!”


Geoff Noble

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