A recent survey from the Federation of Master Builders reveals that many small firms believe a lack of apprenticeships is key problem for the industry, along with a perception that wages are low.
But the FMB also reports that a 23-year-old bricklayer with five years’ experience can earn in the region of £31,000 – which will come as welcome news to two members of the Hudson Contract Apprentice Scheme who are almost at the end of their sponsorship.
The two fledgling bricklayers are Tom Woodhouse and Kurtis Brook, both of whom are working on bespoke housebuilding sites in East Yorkshire, having forged ahead with their skills in the past year.
Tom Woodhouse is an apprentice to Woodhouse & Waines – and as the firm’s name suggests, he is working under the guidance of his father, Ian, a previous apprentice himself. Ian was delighted his son wanted to follow him into the industry, and grateful for the financial support provided by Hudson Contract. “The money took the pressure off us at the outset,” he explained. “Because I was showing Tom how to do things, I was working two or three times slower than usual, so productivity was down. However, that good basic grounding is now paying dividends, because he’s now fully up-to-speed. In fact, he completed about 50% of the brickwork on our current project.”
Tom really enjoys the practical side of the apprenticeship – and was refreshingly honest when he said the best thing about it was the money! “That apart, one of the first jobs I tackled was helping to rebuild a garden wall just across the road from College. Now, every time I walk past it on the way to my studies, it’s good to know that I built that.”
Long-term, Tom hopes to progress onto an advanced bricklaying course, and maybe at some point apply his trade and site knowledge into being a Building Inspector.
Meanwhile, on a site in Driffield, 21-year-old Kurtis Brook is currently adding gable ends to a home, ready for the roofers to come in. Kurtis wasn’t sure what he wanted to do when he left school and was training as a mechanic, but his friend, Louis Atkinson, got him helping out with the family construction business and it wasn’t long before he was delighted to change career paths.
“This is a chance to give something back to the trade I’ve followed for thirty-nine years,” says business owner Eddy Atkinson.
“A couple of people I work with on a regular basis have had apprentices and I welcomed the chance to give a youngster a start. Work is picking up after the recession and I am not getting any younger!”
Kurtis says he’s delighted to have discovered that construction is the right trade for him. “I enjoy working outdoors – it’s a good workout, when you come to think of it.”
One major advantage for our two apprentices is that since they are with small building firms, they get to experience a wide variety of work. Whilst both are currently on NVQ Level 2 in Bricklaying, they are also getting experience of groundworks, roofing and plastering, which gets them off to an excellent start in the construction industry.
Hudson Contract Chairman David Jackson comments: ‘We wish Tom and Kurtis the best of luck with their futures and are proud to have played a part in helping them onto the first rung of the construction ladder. By way of investing in the future of the industry, we are supporting a further 20 apprentices in the Bridlington and Scarborough area over the coming year.”