What makes a good brickie?< Back to Blog

Bricklaying general 2A few weeks back, we reported on the record skills shortages faced by the UK’s construction sector right now, with 68% of small to medium companies finding it difficult to fill bricklaying jobs.

So, this week, we thought we’d focus a bit more on those elusive skills and qualities and ask the question: what exactly does make a good brickie?

Firstly, let’s get one thing straight. If you’re a young person thinking about going into bricklaying and you’ve got a picture of a life in shorts, catching a tan and having a laugh with your mates, get rid of that image right now!

The reality of life on site is very different… you will be required to work hard, you will be outdoors in all kinds of weather, and you will probably get sore hands and aching muscles. But, if you’re willing to listen and learn, then you will become a skilled craftsman and reap the rewards that come with that.

Becoming a bricklayer usually involves a combination of college training (e.g. NVQ Level 2) and on-the-job training or an apprenticeship, both of which are designed to help you develop the actual skills and dexterity required for you to confidently pick up that trowel and call yourself a skilled tradesperson.

Over and above being able to master the methods involved in the trade, we feel there are seven important personal qualities that make the difference between an average and an excellent brickie:

Cheshunt3-Apr20161. Being practical

Being a bricklayer has got to be one of the most ‘hands-on’ jobs you can have – you’re continuously on the move, working with your hands to create a structure that springs up right in front of your eyes. For many, there’s nothing more satisfying than looking back at a completed building and being able to say, “I did that”. If you love the sound of this highly practical approach then bricklaying could well be a dream job – and if it’s a dream, then you’re going to do it well!

 2. Physically fit

If you enjoy keeping fit and don’t mind working up a sweat, then bricklaying could definitely be a good choice. You’ll need to be physically fit to do the job well but perhaps the best thing is that this works both ways. Do the job well and you’ll get even fitter!

3. Hand-eye coordination

Good hand-eye coordination is a key skill in bricklaying. The better it is, the faster and more precise your craft will be. So, how do you know if you’ve got what it takes? Well, this is actually a skill you probably already use in many other areas of general life. Do you play any sports? Do you play a musical instrument at all? Are you any good at computer games? Can you drive? Do you cook? These are all activities which require good levels of hand-eye coordination. 

4. Aptitude and adaptability

Contrary to popular opinion, bricklaying involves a lot more than layering up the bricks and mortar. You’ll need to acquire all kinds of skills along the way – e.g. learning to read off plans, taking accurate measurements, completing health and safety precautions, understanding environmental issues and more. These days, the construction industry is also witnessing a host of new technologies – including robotics, drones, virtual/ augmented reality and smart materials – all of which look set to change the way bricklayers and other site workers carry out their roles in the near future. If you’re prepared to adapt and happy to keep training, you’ll do well.

Master_Gunners 16_June155. Working outdoors (and at heights)

As a bricklayer, most of your time will be spent outdoors, so if the open-air life appeals then bricklaying could be a good fit. Just be aware that, throughout your career, you will most likely also have to work at different levels above the ground – not a great job for those with a fear of heights.

6. Being a team player (but one that can work alone too!)

Productivity in most building projects relies on having a flexible workforce with people that can work independently but also demonstrate great teamwork with colleagues. If that’s you, then bricklaying needs you!

7. Attitude and Attendance

Finally, we have the two things that can make one brickie shine higher and brighter than any other – attitude and attendance.

Ask any site manager or foreman what they want from their workers and top of the list would no doubt be people who are reliable, who turn up on time and don’t down tools at the mere sight of a cloud! Along with that would be people who display a great attitude – showing an interest in the job, being passionate about their craft, demonstrating a willingness to learn and adapt and showing ambition.

Becoming a skilled bricklayer takes dedication and becoming a master of the trade can take several years of practice. But, with a few key skills and most importantly with the right attitude, you can have a great working lifestyle, earn a healthy pay packet and push yourself further. Perhaps that will even lead to you becoming the boss of a construction company one day -just like Sheriff’s MD did!