A Chippy with the Best Manors
SkillsOne meets Cameron Benson who chats about the opportunities in the building industries. He's a chippy, who has completed a certificate in building - and now has loads of options.
Cameron Benson, he went from finishing his apprenticeship to site supervisor in 6 months!
He's on site and shares what's involved in his job, replacing desking.
He shares how he got involved in the industry - from loving woodwork at school, to leaving school and calling every builder in the phone book for a job.
Cameron finished school in 2002 and started his apprenticeship in carpentry in 2003. Cameron got home from school one day and called every builder in the phone book in order to get a job. One of those said go through HIA and so he signed up for their group training program.
His parents were supportive of his decision. They wanted him to finish his HSC and then go straight into a trade. Until you know what you want to do, get a trade and you can always fall back on it.
In December 2006, he joined John Howard & Associates (trading as Best Manors) and in 6 months in he was promoted to Site Supervisor. The number of people he supervises varies from one apprentice to a dozen people – depending on what is happening on site.
Stereotypical carpenters do the wooden frame, and Cameron says he was lucky because his training involved cutting his own roovs which diversified his own ability and enabled him to do his own private work. Cameron enjoys being active, getting outside, working with his hands and seeing the end product – creating a massive building, sense of achievement at the end.
They started out doing renovations on existing place, originally to replace pagola and deck. The client then decided to expand living areas, putting in new basement, which involved a great deal of excavation. He is currently putting retaining walls up, putting in steel beams, might be doing some concreting. This is different sort of work for him because no fixed plans. He has done mainly residential renovations but nothing to this extent.
The business does jobs in the higher end of the market which means the client has more money to spend on the project. Sometimes they even say, “Just do it, if we don’t like how it looks, we’ll knock it down and start again”. He's looking to have his own construction company in the future – a friend he went to TAFE with may join forces with him in the next two years.
Carpenters learn their work mostly on the job, but many carpenters learn their skills in school or through training programs. High school courses in carpentry, shop, drawing, and math will help on the job. Some carpenters join a program called an apprenticeship. This program combines on-the-job training and classroom work.
Applicants for this program must be at least 18 years old and pass an exam to see if they have the skills to become a carpenter. The length of the program is usually 3 to 4 years. New carpenters learn many things. These include basic design, common job skills, use of tools and machines, safety, and first aid. They practice drawing and apply math too.