Bricklayers are now in such hot demand for Australia's booming construction industry that students learning the trade are close to guaranteed an apprenticeship once they complete a short pre-apprenticeship course.
Victoria University bricklaying teacher Tim Malberg said one of the world's most ancient trades is now facing a critical shortage of newcomers, and that will only get worse.
"Of the 29,000 bricklayers in Australia, nearly half of them are aged over 50," he said. "The students we are training are not matching the people retiring and leaving the industry."
To help address the problem, VU's bricklaying pre-apprenticeship is now being taught at its Melton Campus, which is located in one of Australia's fastest growing regions.
VU's pre-apprenticeship bricklaying program is the only course of its kind in Melbourne's west, and is offered at its Newport, and now Melton Campus. Up to 15 students are taught full-time in two semesters for 17 weeks, earning a Certificate I and II in bricklaying.
Students then work as an apprentice with an employer for a further two and a half years before they are fully qualified bricklayers.
"After 17 weeks with us, they learn everything from basic first-aid to masonry blockwork, and they would be a confident asset to any employer," Tim said.
There are no pre-requisites for the program except a minimum age of 15.
The cost of a VU's bricklaying pre-apprenticeship course for health care card holders is $250 and about $950 for non-concession.
VU Melton's next bricklaying pre-apprenticeship course will begin in early 2011. Expressions of interest are now being taken on 9919-7530.
Tim Malberg or Ross Firth, Bricklaying Teachers
School of Construction Industries, Victoria University
Ph: (03) 9919 7530.
VU Media Contact:
Ann Marie Angebrandt, Media Officer,
Marketing and Communications Department, Victoria University
Ph: (03) 9919 5487 or 0403 556 001.