As part of my plans to help bring a wider audience to my site and introduce some new voices to the site and not just my own, I am very proud to introduce Sam’s Column to you all. Samuel-James Wilson is a 24 year old builder who has an apparent endless thirst for learning and energy to better himself. He’s very popular on Twitter and has my respect as well as a lot of other’s. He will be guest writing for this site on a regular basis and I hope that you will engage with him and read what he has to say. Enjoy!

Nearly ten years ago I began my journey in the building trade. I began my career working with as plumber, crawling under floors, getting wet and touching toilets. I gained a level 2 NVQ in this but I soon got tired of it. It wasn’t that I hated plumbing but I just didn’t feel I would have been happy spending my life doing it. I decided to begin a new career as a builder as I was very luckily offered an opportunity with a friend of a friend. I started out like most – as a donkey. No, not dressing up handing out leaflets in the street – a laborer  I began my years lifting, carrying and picking up little bits here and there from various trades. I have worked with various builders throughout my time, some great, some good and well…some embarrassing people who can only claim to be builders. I soon discovered bricklaying was the way I wanted to go.

[cutting a long story short]

I now find myself to be twenty-four years old trying to push people’s perception of the ‘bricklayer’ out of the negative and into the positive. I am fully qualified achieving a Distinction and Merit in my three years at college. I will also soon be qualified in Heritage Brickwork where I have found my new passion. It’s not easy being a young tradesman I can tell you! I have had to push and push myself through college without much help, more and more people are just happy with getting the qualification and leaving without really knowing much at all.

Throughout my time at college and on site I have become more and more aware of the lack of knowledge within the trade, of the trade. I am a great believer in learning from the ground up. For example – How can you really call yourself a bricklayer when you can even explain to a customer how bricks themselves are made? If you walked into a modern building college today and asked all the students in there, I would be more than surprised if over 30% could tell you. The modern teaching techniques are striving for numbers. Numbers means funding. Funding means new shiny equipment for the rest of the college. I don’t mean to sound bitter. I honestly would be nowhere in life without apprenticeships. I have been incredibly lucky throughout my career in fining jobs etc but it’s not without trying on my part. I feel drastic changes need to be made in the ways people are taught about their craft sooner rather than later if we’re ever going to create such masterpieces as the builders have done in the past or at the very least, to keep maintaining the buildings of the past.

If I have one tip for young people looking to begin a career its – believe in yourself, no-one will ever push you more than you can push yourself. If you want to be successful you need to work for it!

I am not going to sit here and say I am a ‘master craftsman’ and that I know everything. I am far from it and I am the first to admit but I know that if I keep pushing myself to keep get better and learn from my mistakes I won’t be far off in years to come.

There are a lot of young people like myself striving to create a better future for ourselves, striving to be successful in our crafts, striving to produce the best work we can in the way we deserve to be but due to the issues I have raised within the construction education sector it is becoming more and more difficult. The perception people have about the construction industry has changed dramatically over the years. The builder was once a trusted member of our society. In recent times the builder has now become a common ‘cowboy’.

The only way we can change this is by working from the ground up.

I would love to here about your time as an apprentice, or your perception of the building trade as it is now in regards to what I have spoken out.

I would also like to say a massive thank you to you the reader for taking the time to read my first post and to the Glazing Blogger website for letting me become a part of this great website. Letting me share my views and have weekly rambles to some great readers.

Samuel-James Wilson –