When Rhonda Stone, a Regional Industry Education Partnerships (RIEP) Officer with the department, got in touch with the leadership at Liverpool Boys to gauge their interest in a try-a-trade course in bricklaying, she didn’t have to wait long for an answer.
“As a boys school with lots of students interested in pursuing vocational pathways, I jump on these opportunities whenever they come up,” says Gail Tucker, the school’s Careers Adviser.
And there’s never any shortage of takers. A similar course with the Master Builders Federation last year proved to be very popular with students, and the bricklaying opportunity was similarly sought after.
“I already had four students in mind for the course because they’d expressed an interest in concreting or a similar trade in the past,” says Gail, noting that the remaining places were offered to Year 9, 10 and 11 students.
In the end, 15 boys turned up on Monday 17 May for a week of hard yakka supervised by bricklaying teachers from the Granville and Miller TAFE NSW campuses. Over the course of the week, the boys learned a bunch of bricklaying basics, from mixing mortar to how to use a spirit level. And it was all done at a pace that allowed the students, who ranged from 14 to 16, to keep up.
“The TAFE teachers were awesome, just really lovely men who were patient with the boys and very encouraging,” says Gail.
Lugging bricks and bags of cement around is pretty tiring work, so the teachers made sure they didn’t work the boys too hard while still encouraging them to put the effort in. The commonsense approach paid off.
“Off the back of the ABBTF course, we now have three students, from Years 9, 10 and 11, that want to pursue a bricklaying trade,” says Gail.
As for the other 12 students, each of whom is on a vocational pathway in a related area, the try-a-trade course in bricklaying taught them some valuable new skills and, more importantly, confirmed that they’re on the right track.