What did you want to be when you grew up?
I wanted to work in forestry, maintaining trails and looking after grounds. However, I spent some time working for a builder and changed my mind as I enjoyed my time there so much. My first job was labouring so I got to try various roles while I was there. I enjoyed bricklaying the most and really enjoyed working outside, so it’s a bonus that I get to do that most days.
What qualification are you studying towards?
I’m currently studying towards my Level 2 NVQ and a Level 2 Diploma in Bricklaying at Coleg Gwent, City of Newport Campus. I decided I wanted to earn my NVQ and an apprenticeship was the best way to do that.
What’s the best bit about your apprenticeship?
I’m slowly getting my name out there and making contacts, which will be a huge benefit to me once I’m fully qualified and earning more money. I’ve learnt a lot from other brickies’ during my apprenticeship. I find that everyone has their own techniques, so even though I’m using and improving the skills that I’ve learnt in college I’m also picking up new skills along the way. I’ve also enjoyed having fun with the people I work with on site. I’ve been really lucky that all the people I’ve been placed with have been friendly and full of banter.
What contractors have you worked with during your apprenticeship so far?
I was first placed with CJ Construction and their sub-contractors Griffiths Brothers. I’m now on site with Morgan Sindall and working with ND Construct.
Is there anything that you didn’t expect to be doing, that you’ve had the chance to do?
There is a technique called Block and Beam, which is like putting down flooring. It’s not something that brickies would normally do, but I did it on my first day and have done it a lot since then. I also use quite a lot of maths which I didn’t think I’d have to do much of at the beginning, but I regularly need to count out bricks and materials.
How do you find balancing your apprenticeship with college?
It’s pretty easy as my college day is on a Tuesday and breaks up my working week really nicely. Although, if I could give my younger self one piece of advice it would be to pass your English GCSE so that you don’t have to spend an extra two hours a week doing it – I always wish I had when I’m so busy with college work and my apprenticeship!
What are you most looking forward to in your career as a bricklayer?
In the future I’d really like to go into stone masonry and become self-employed with my own team. That’s where the big money is!
What would you say to somebody interested in applying for an apprenticeship?
I’d say it’s really worth doing. It’s all well and good learning techniques on paper, but you won’t learn everything without the hands-on experience. I’d say that bricklayers are crucial to the construction industry. Without us, there wouldn’t be any buildings at all!