Brick & block off-job training

An important part of current Brick & Block Laying training is the off-job block courses which apprentices attend at strategic stages of their apprenticeship.

The current model of this is delivered by expert tutor, Tim Valentine of Brickart, Christchurch. The model varies somewhat to its traditional delivery method in that the courses are delivered around the country rather than in a base location. This in itself has made it far easier for apprentices to attend, both logistically and financially. 

Apprentices currently attend a one and a two-week block course where the focus of their time is the completion of a number of physical projects that show evidence of the mastery of a number of key unit standards encompassed in their National Certificate in Brick and Block Laying qualification. The courses are around 35% theory/classroom based with the other 65% of time spent completing hands-on practical projects. While these projects do have a standard brief and common expectations, there is also scope for the integration of an apprentice's own design ideas.

Brick Block Course

Tim Valentine with apprentices

One of the projects completed on the second two-week block course is the Silver Trowel Block Wall with the tutor assessment of this project now used to support the judging of the Brick and Block Federation of NZ’s Apprentice of the Year Award. 

Ben Sherlock

Ben Sherlock, Halpin Bricklayers Ltd, Whangaparaoa with his completed Silver Trowel Block Wall project at a course in Auckland.

Tim Valentine is full of praise for the quality of the work of apprentices that he works with across the country and believes there is a strong and supportive culture among them. A key feature of the localised approach is the networking that is able to be maintained beyond the block courses, mainly due to apprentices being in reasonably close proximity to each other.

Likewise, apprentices are full of praise for the block courses. Comments like it’s really full on but I do get so much out of it; everyone helps each other out which is really awesome; and we really enjoy the projects that we complete-we learn so much, are a testimony to this.

A special mention must also go to a number of industry members for their donations of either products or the use of facilities. These include Firth, NZ Brick Distributors, Southtile and Vi Block Masonry. Their support of this course and contribution towards the development of  Brick & Block apprentices is much appreciated.

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