What makes a good apprentice?
The building trade is one that’s based on the concept of apprenticeships and it’s a concept we fully support, having had numerous apprentices work with us over the past 20 years. Most apprentices come to us straight out of school but you can also join a trade as a mature-age student, which is what JD did. Sitting in a classroom full of 18 year olds was a bit of a shock to him after 10+ years in the corporate world!
The apprenticeship system in Australia is a combination of paid employment plus on-the-job and institutional training. Some apprentices arrive at 5to50 under their own steam, while others come to us through the Master Builders Association. We’re firm believers that a trade is a great thing to have and, while it’s not easy, it’s definitely worth doing. Here’s what we look for when we’re on the lookout for a new apprentice.
A good attitude
When you’re a first-year apprentice, you have very little in the way of skills to offer a builder or carpenter – and that’s fine, we don’t expect you to. What we do look for is a good attitude – we can teach you everything else. Be enthusiastic, willing to learn and prepared to work hard. You’ll be doing a lot of sweeping and digging to start with, but as you go you’ll get a handle on carpentry skills that you can put to use on site. In the meantime, work with good humour.
Some background information
We like to know a bit more about you, so tell us about the time you’ve spent in Scouts or Surf Lifesaving or the local football club or working at McDonald’s. What were your responsibilities, what did you enjoy about those things, what did you learn? Anything you can tell us about yourself will help us make the right decision about whether you’d be a good fit as an apprentice.
There can be a lot going on at a building site, so we like apprentices to have some common sense and the ability to keep their eyes and ears open. Be aware of what’s going on and what you can learn from any given situation.
Good communication skills
This means listening as well as talking. Many instructions on a building site are given verbally and it’s important that things get done right, so you need to be able to listen to and understand what people are saying as well as make accurate notes when you’re running a site so you can communicate with suppliers, sub-contractors and customers.
Focussing on small jobs like we do means that quite often, the customer is at home when we are working – that is they haven’t moved out while a major renovation is underway. We treat all our customers, and co-workers, politely and with respect so we are always looking for apprentices for whom good manners are second nature.
Work on a building site generally starts at 7am. Not 7.05am and certainly not 7.15am. So it’s important that you can manage your time and make sure at work on time, every time. Be on time for your interview and you’ll be off to a good start.
We take the responsibility of training apprentices seriously and it’s very satisfying to see young people develop from school leavers to qualified tradespeople. Many of our apprentices have stayed with us for years and have become valuable colleagues and friends and we are always looking out for the next generation of licensed carpenters and builders.
Do you know a young person who’s interested in an apprenticeship? Did you complete a trade qualification? Are you a punctual kind of person?