Paddy Smith is a 17-year-old bricklaying apprentice with Stanley Construction Services Ltd, based in St Helens, Lancashire. He is five months into his apprenticeship and has been updating us with what he has been learning. Here’s his diary for last three months:
This month I have learnt to dig footings and understand why we dig to certain depths. I saw all the things that go into a footing and helped pour the concrete into them. Later in the month I worked on a 10-metre concrete slab, and I learnt how to pour and tamper it to ensure it was level.
Laying the concrete slab was a big challenge as I’d only ever poured concrete and not tamped it. I used a level and although it was a challenge, I thoroughly enjoyed seeing how the job was done.
“Each day I find myself learning something new which can only improve my bricklaying development.”
Over the last few weeks I have learnt how stone walls are built and how to use my line and pins to do so. I’ve also learnt how to prepare for a job and get everything ready so the next day you can begin the project immediately.
The hardest challenge this month was building a brick panel corner independently on site for the first time. I used the skills I had learnt in college and from working on site to complete this task and then run the wall in with the help of my fellow tradesman.
“The biggest challenge in the winter months as a tradesman is battling the elements. Knowing when you can crack on and work and knowing when it is too wet or too cold so you have to stop or do a different job.”
In December I learnt how cobbling takes place. You have to dig to a certain depth and make sure that the floor is about level. Once this is done you measure your gage for the cobble and the bed of sand and cement. Like flagging, you have to leave a slight fall to ensure that water soaks away. If it’s level all the way through the water will pool up on top of the cobbling.
It took us a good few weeks to do and amounted up to just over 2,000 cobbles being laid. It was great to see another aspect of a different job.
Whilst Paddy is on a Bricklaying Apprenticeship, the benefits of being with a company like Stanley Construction Services Ltd, means that he is learning other skills during his apprenticeship as well.