“We are now into the final days of preparations for the national WorldSkills competition and so all the young bricklayers competing in Perth September 18-20 are putting the finishing touches to their training so they will produce their best. This usually involves experimenting with different methods of construction in order to save time but maintain the quality of work. Each competitor coming to Perth would by now have a reasonably good idea of how long it takes him to construct all the projects and would have realised that they are going to be pressed for time to complete all the work in 18 hours.
I’ve just recently qualified and with the Certificate III in Bricklaying and am keen to stay with my boss Chris Pennant of C&M Pennant Bricklaying, to learn all I can and eventually go out on my own. When I saw bricklaying pre-apprenticeships advertised at Federation University I thought I’d “have a crack”. Similarly, when I heard about the Ballarat Regionals I entered just because I wanted to see if I could win, to see if I was up to scratch.
Now I’m eager to take on the top crown. I’ve had a few short, intensive training sessions in Melbourne with fellow Vic competitors to practice the Project and our competition skills as well as regular training at Federation Uni. Throughout my apprenticeship, I had good support from my trade teachers and also from my boss, Chris Pennant.
I live in Ballarat and am 21 years old. I didn’t choose bricklaying, it chose me! I did a pre-app course and loved it. Being 198cm or 6’6’’ has helped at work – I lay more courses before needing scaffold. Being tall has also helped in my being the key ruckman for the local footy club, the Carngham-Linton FC. I don’t have a hero but I’m happy to do the best that I can, whatever field I’m in.
Brydon Beckwith – Fascinated by the work of bricklaying
Region: Victorian Country
I qualified in bricklaying in May this year after doing my training at Holmesglen TAFE and am 21. I work for Bobby Kennedy of BK Brick & Masonry and I live in Hampton Park, Victoria. I’ve been employed by a couple of different bricklayers during the apprenticeship so I’ve worked on a wide range of jobs providing good experience. Ben Elson, my last employer, who I did part of my apprenticeship with, gave me some great support and guidance while I was with him.
I entered the Regional competition to improve and test my skills and now I’ve made it to the Nationals I admit I’m quite nervous but at the same time ready to step it up once again. I’m pumped for the challenge and have been going into Holmesglen and also working through the Project that will be tested in Perth, in an intensive training weekend with experts in Melbourne.
In the next few years I see myself working in my own business – ‘smashing’ out houses – and one day I’ll consider becoming a builder. I’m happy to find my own path through life and don’t have a particular hero that I aim to be like.
Matthew Baxter – I’ll travel the world and lay bricks in as many countries as I can!
I’m 18, live in Pearcedale and I ride motorbikes for fun. I qualified in bricklaying early this year. I left school at the end of Year 9 and entered bricklaying and the apprenticeship then. Tony Stocker, C&S Lightweight Building Specialists is my employer and on-site trainer and I attended Holmesglen TAFE for off-site learning. My dad and my hero, Tim Baxter, is a bricklayer and what he did always interested me, so that’s how I got into the trade. I love that you can see the results of your work and that it’s neat and tidy when done.
Dad and all the brickies I work with have helped me through the apprenticeship, guiding my development. Everyone does things differently but I find I pick and choose the things that work for me, from all the advice, towards building my own skill. My aim is to start my own business one day and travel the world working and learning many more bricklaying skills – I’m going to lay bricks in as many countries as I can.
I entered the Regional WorldSkills comp to test my skills and am feeling confident I will get the job finished well. I had a training weekend at Holmesglen with the other competitors and am going in again to hone my skills.
Sam Barratt – It’s going to be tough – I’m training every week.
I’m in my third and last year of my apprenticeship and am 18 years old. I’ve followed dad and my brothers into the business, All Brick Tasmania Pty Ltd in Mornington, Hobart. My dad has done well in it, my three brothers in bricklaying (and one in carpentry) enjoy it and I love being outdoors, so it wasn’t a hard decision for me to join them. I live in Sandford, on the outskirts of Hobart and I did my training at TasTAFE under Paul McKay. My dad, Colin Barratt is my guide in terms of apprenticeship training and I see him as my hero as he’s done so well.
I have watched my brothers compete and do well at earlier Regional and National WorldSkills and they really enjoyed it, so I wanted to do it. Plus, the family encouraged me to enter.
It’s going to be tough at the National competition, I know that. So, I am training every week with my brothers, dad and Paul McKay at TAFE.
I live in Mackay; I’m in the fourth year of my bricklaying apprenticeship and am 18 years old. Bricklaying runs in my family, my dad is my boss, Col Sommerfeld of Sommerfeld and Sons. I look to my dad for guidance in my work and it was dad and my CQ TAFE teacher who both said I should enter the NQ Regional WorldSkills. What I really like about the trade is the looking back afterwards at your work and saying “I built that”. Going into bricklaying was an easy choice to make given the family business.
I’m feeling a little nervous about the National Competition, but have done some practice coming up to the event. I don’t have a particular hero in my life, I like to be myself.
Toby Tosh – Love the ‘freedom’ and the attention to detail.
Region: Wide Bay, Qld
I followed my dad into the trade and I’m now a qualified tradesman and am 19 years old, working with my dad, Phil Tosh in the family business, Tosh & Sons Bricklaying. I’ve been in bricklaying for as long as I could carry blocks around! I love meeting new people and making new friends; love being in the sun and having the freedom rather than being stuck inside, also love the detail that’s required in bricklaying.
I’m feeling very excited about the WorldSkills national! Me and a few of the other guys have been training in Rocky a couple of times in the lead-up to the comp. Peter Carr, who teaches where I trained at CQ TAFE, and my dad have guided me through my apprenticeship. Pete is just generally an all-round great bloke, always willing to help and teach. If it wasn’t for Pete I wouldn’t have competed in the Regional WorldSkills; but most of all my old man is the reason I’ve done well in the trade and got to where I am today! They both encouraged me with WorldSkills too.
Who’s my Hero? Superman! Hahaha! Nah I’d say it would have to be Dad and Pete.
Isaac Machin – I plan to run my own bricklaying business
Region: Central Queensland
I’m Izo to my mates and 22 years old. I came into bricklaying through a Step Out Program run at my high school, I enjoyed the experience so I went on to do a 13 week pre-apprenticeship course at CQ TAFE in Rockhampton. This led to sign up and successful completion of my bricklaying apprenticeship.
I found I love working outside so bricklaying suits me. I’m currently employed by Jeff Carr Bricklaying (who I also did my apprenticeship with), a family dynasty of bricklayers in Rockhampton, and I live in Mount Morgan.
I’d certainly recommend bricklaying and suggest other apprentices enter Regional WorldSkills. It’s a good experience. One day I hope to run my own bricklaying business.