For just over a year now I’ve had a young Albanian lad called Vasily tucked under my wing. He isn’t serving a formal or indentured apprenticeship with employment rights or anything (we’re all self-employed) but in the beginning, when he had time between loading out bricks and mortar he’d borrow my big trowel and run out beds of mortar for us before progressing to actually laying bricks or blocks.
At first this was all done behind the foreman’s back but after a few weeks it was becoming obvious what was going on and in all fairness to the foreman he let it carry on and eventually put Vas on the trowel full time… Except with one caveat: a savage pay cut. It isn’t unusual for a hod carrier (a bricklayer’s labourer) to ask to be taught how to build (it’s how I learnt) but in order to accommodate all the mistakes they’re likely to make and the time it takes us away from our own work they have to take a cut in pay. Vas went from £130 to £85.
To cut a long story short he turns up every day, listens, puts into practice what I and everyone else on the team tells him and he’s come so far in just twelve months. His progress has been noticed and today a senior foreman came to the site in Clapham to inspect the quality of his work and how much he’s been getting done. We spent about an hour going over what he’s done and putting levels up against his work, etc. and in the end the old boy put him on £145 a day back dated for three weeks. He’s got a way to go (another two years or so) before he can command the same as us but I have every confidence he’ll get there eventually.
Sorry if I’ve bored you all with this but I’ve been building for a long time now and he’s my first apprentice and my heart has sung all day.