It may seem unusual for a business owner with 25 years’ experience as a concrete placer to suddenly decide that he wants to become qualified. “Concrete placers are struggling to employ young people. If my business has something to offer like an apprenticeship then it is something extra to offer my people. If I have also completed it myself, then I can guide my guys through it,” says Brad. For him, it was a business decision. He realises that young people want qualifications so if he offers apprenticeships, he will attract quality people to the trade. It is also important to Brad to lead by example.
Brad knows the type of person he looks for when employing. He says, "I fell into construction because I wasn’t very articulate at school. I had four uncles and my father all working in concrete. It runs in the blood and there are guys out there just like me. Not everyone is going to go to University. If I can develop a training system in my business then guys can come in and have a pathway into a qualification. Once they have laid concrete for a couple of years they have their own truck and phone so why not formal recognition of their skills?"
Tradespeople with the level of experience that Brad has can go through a process with BCITO where we recognise their existing skills and experience. Brad says, "My BCITO Training Advisor keeps pushing me. I thought it was going to be like a five-minute visit, but we have to plan it. I go through the paperwork, put together evidence that shows my BCITO Training Advisor my competence levels so he can assess my abilities. Then we sit down together for a couple of hours and get most of it done. He understands that I have to run my business as well though.”
BCITO helps employers and experienced tradespeople gain qualifications by ensuring all the competencies required for a qualification are evident within existing skills and knowledge. As part of this process, if any skills gaps exist, we can provide further resources to assist.
Historically, some concrete placers and finishers haven't put a high value on a qualification. The reality is, it is a specialised and skilled trade. “Our product arrives as a liquid in a concrete truck and we get about an hour to get it down on the ground, laid and finished then hand it over to the customer. When we do a high-end decorative job we all get great satisfaction. Achieving difficult jobs with complicated formwork is great. The boys all know that we are under the pump and have to work fast and skillfully. Not everyone can lay concrete well,” says Brad. "Concrete placing and finishing is definitely a job you want to get right the first time around! It is expensive to fix if it goes wrong so it makes sense to have qualified people working with it."
When Brad was asked how he feels about being assessed he said, “My attitude used to be that I didn’t need a qualification but now I have thought about it some more and thought about the future and the issue of employing young people, I realise you have to give them something to work towards. I knew I had to do it myself before I offered this opportunity to our people.”
If you're an employer without a formal qualification and you're struggling to find staff, consider leading by example. Getting formally qualified yourself and then offering training with the end result of a qualification to your people is a really positive step for your business.
If you have been working in the trade for a while and are interested in having your existing experience recognised with a qualification get in touch with BCITO today.
Brad Robertson, BSR Concrete
Female trade apprentices are loving their career choice, but few considered a career in building or construction while they were at school, research shows.
Brad Gemmell qualified as a bricklayer at 21 years of age and hopped on a plane to London, ready to put his skills to the test. He returned to New Zealand a few years later and began his own business, Brad the Brickie Ltd in Wanaka.