Why do you want to become a bricklayer?
I always wanted to learn a trade. I had been laboring before, and while on site I was thinking about the different trades I could go into. I’m allergic to saw dust, so carpentry was out! I thought bricklaying would be a good option because I could earn really good money and there would always be work out there because people will always need new houses built.
Why did you choose to do an apprenticeship?
I was doing a full-time college course before, but I didn’t want to be in a classroom all the time. I wanted to be on site every day and getting stuck in! I’ve found the work life balance really good with my apprenticeship too.
What have you learnt since starting your apprenticeship?
I’ve learnt how to do a lot of different bricklaying techniques, how to build cavity and garden walls, how to make mixes and how to set out. I’ve also improved my physical skills like trawl work, which I’m getting much quicker at now. I also use a lot of problem solving and math skills every day. Most importantly, I’ve learnt what not to do on site!
What sites have you worked on during your time with us?
I’ve worked with two different contactors – Morgan Sindall and Jehu. I worked on two school builds with Morgan Sindall, one in Aberdare and the other at a new super school in Tonyrefail. With Jehu I worked on two housing sites, one in Treforest and the other in Caerphilly. My latest site, the former Caerphilly Magistrates Court housing project, was a little different from the other sites I’ve worked on. It’s a lot smaller than some sites I’ve been placed on and has slightly different ways of working than I have seen before. It’s good to exposed to different ways of working because I get a really broad experience.
While you were with us, you had the chance to take part in a Habitat for Humanity visit to Kenya. Tell us about your trip.
I never thought I’d have the opportunity to be involved in something like that – it was great! I helped build a house for an under privileged family in Kenya with a team of 15 volunteers. The trip helped improve my skills and confidence a lot. I got the chance to work using my own initiative, which I may not have been able to do on a traditional site here. I was the only volunteer with any bricklaying experience, so some of the team would come to me for help. It was really hard work because of the heat, but the atmosphere was really nice and there was lots of singing and dancing. Although the family we were building the home for didn’t speak any English, they were really appreciative of us being there and helping. I felt like I had made a big difference to their lives. The whole trip put me out of my comfort zone as I had never been abroad before and it was very hot, but I’m so glad I got the chance to push myself. I would recommend the trip to anyone who is considering it. I would definitely like to go back if the opportunity came up!
What was the best part about your trip?
Getting to meet and work with people from all over the country. There was a lot of socialising along with the hard work and we all got on really well. We’re nearly a year on now and all the volunteers check in now and then. We have a WhatsApp group chat that we’re all part of. I also got to learn some techniques that I wouldn’t use here. For example, I learnt how to use a plumb bob, which makes sure that the walls are completely vertical. I’ve never had the chance to use one before because today we have more modern tools to use.
How have you found your time with Y Prentis?
It’s been excellent! I liked moving around between sites learning from a range of bricklayers and seeing how techniques differ between gangs. All the sites I’ve worked on have been different from each other, which has meant that I get too see how all types of projects work. The best part of my apprenticeship has been being able to meet lots of new people on all the different sites. I’d tell anyone who was interested in taking an apprenticeship to go for it. It’s better than sitting at home twiddling your thumbs and you’ll get a much broader training experience than if you’re just sat in a classroom.
Now that your coming to the end of your apprenticeship, what do you have planned for the future?
At the moment I’m looking for work and to gain lots more site experience. I haven’t quite finished college yet, but I’ve already started my job search. I’m a little bit apprehensive, but I’m not a stranger to looking for work. I’ve made lots of really good contacts during my apprenticeship, so I don’t think it will take me too long. I’m excited to get my career started and hopefully one day I will have my own company.