“I left the Magna Carta School in Staines when I was 15 and at 16, I decided to embark on a career in construction. My mum and I had visited nearby Brooklands College and I was considering a job as a chef or working in the media, but I met Construction Tutor Christian Hatherall-Good who encouraged me to sign up for a Bricklaying level 1 diploma fulltime course. Both my brothers started out in the industry and I’d seen others do it and thought it looked really interesting. As soon as I had a go and demonstrated my basic ability, my tutor wanted me on the course straight away.
During my first year at College, I became more competent and confident in my skills and knowledge. I was one of the best in my group and I was offered an apprenticeship with Lee Marley Brickwork, after I completed the current year long course. The apprenticeship allowed me to work on site four days a week and attend College one full day. I was earning and learning. It was great because the company supplied me with my first set of tools and helped me with travel expenses too.
At the moment I spend 5 days a week on site, the day starts with a toolbox talk briefing then we start laying bricks and blocks, positioning fire barriers, attaching ties or helping with fixing horizontal masonry support throughout the day. The only real downside is the cold weather as there’s often not much work that can be done outside due to cold temperatures, but luckily on commercial projects there is work inside, but heavy rain can halt a job which can be frustrating.
I love the practical hands-on experience on site and get a real buzz from seeing a project evolve, starting from nothing to a finished build. I’m currently working on a block of flats for Fairview Homes in Hayes which we started last year, it’s exciting to see it unfold. My favourite part of the job is seeing the final outcome of what you’re doing.
You do have an idea in your head of what a job like bricklaying involves and I was surprised at how much more creative it is. You can actually become really imaginative with brick when it comes to things like curved walls, arches and spiral piers. They’re a challenge to have a go at, but I find real pride in making something.
I’m 19 now and am excited about my future in this industry. I plan to keep on working hard and challenging myself. I have passed the NVQ Level 2 and will beginning my NVQ Level 3 shortly, after that I’d look to getting my gold CSCS card. I’ll keep working my way up the ladder and one day I’d like to be a supervisor.
Some of my proudest moments so far have been when I won the first ever inaugural Female Trainee brickwork competition sponsored by Forterra in 2019. The year before I also won the FIS “I built this 14-18 category” for the photo of my arch, and I was invited back in 2019 to be on the judging panel for this which was really exciting. It’s a real privilege to represent the company and the industry.
Advice for others looking to get into the construction industry:
- Don’t give up, keep at it, your hard work will be rewarded
- Ask questions, you’ll find solutions which you can apply to your work
- Keep building your skillset – challenge yourself
- If you’re a female don’t be afraid, believe in yourself and prove people wrong, you can do this in a male orientated industry
Women in Construction
I’m a true believer that whether you’re a man or a woman, if you demonstrate that you can do the job, then you’re accepted. It is hard as many sites aren’t used to having females on the site and often, you’re treated like a labourer at first and you have to earn the respect of the other workers.
There are more females entering apprenticeships that lead to careers in all areas of the industry. I think a lot of the barriers that exist at the moment are to do with it not being properly promoted as something young women can do. If it were, I’m sure you would see a lot more people like me on site.
I’m grateful to my family and friends who have supported me in my journey and hope to see many other women entering into the wet trades, it’s a job I love and would encourage others to find out more about what’s involved.”
Naomi Hamilton is a bricklaying apprentice at Lee Marley Brickwork (LMB). The company is one of the UK’s leading integrated brickwork, scaffolding and stone sub-contractors. The firm is championing female participation in the industry. LMB currently offers both brickwork and scaffolding apprenticeships in order to bring the next generation of tradesmen into the construction industry.
By Naomi Hamilton, bricklaying apprentice at Lee Marley Brickwork Ltd
For more information about Lee Marley Brickwork Ltd, please visit: www.leemarley.com