Time to be constructive

Time to be constructive

Crafting your future may take many stages and some physically demanding labour

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Construction trainee Lee Yiu-lun doesn't mind getting his hands dirty on the road to his dream.
Construction trainee Lee Yiu-lun doesn't mind getting his hands dirty on the road to his dream.
Photo: David Wong/SCMP
Lee Yiu-lun decided on a career in construction after finishing Form Five. Lee is a graduate of the bricklaying, plastering and tiling course offered by the Construction Industry Council (CIC), and he will represent Hong Kong in the upcoming WorldSkills Competition in Germany (in the wall and floor tiling trade category).

Getting started:

CIC offers a one-year course in bricklaying, plastering and tiling. Students can learn how to build brick walls, lay tiles and do plastering work.

Moving up:

With intermediate trade test qualifications, one can work as an apprentice. An apprentice needs to have four years' work experience and gain a certificate of trade to become a qualified craftsman. As a craftsman becomes more experienced, they can take on management duties. By studying management courses, one can learn to be a supervisor, and lead a team of craftsmen.

There are project management courses to train craftsmen to become sub-contractors. A sub-contractor manages part of a construction project, and needs to know how to control the costs and manage craftsmen.

Race to the top:

Building a wall is not an easy thing to do. A craftsman must put in time and effort to perfect their skills.

For those who have moved up to be supervisors or sub-contractors, excellent communication skills are needed. A good supervisor or contractor must give clear instructions to workers - it is not easy to get craftsmen to look at diagrams on site. They also need to have a thorough understanding of the strengths and weaknesses of their team so they can assign duties accordingly to maximise productivity.

Rewards and benefits:

Craftsmen working on construction and renovation projects are employed on a freelance basis and are paid a daily wage. Those holding intermediate trade test qualifications earn around HK$450 a day; those with certificate of trade test qualifications can earn up to HK$800 a day. Craftsmen working for property management companies are paid a monthly salary of no less than HK$10,000.

A day in the life:

Craftsmen usually work six days a week and rest on Sundays. They need to be on site early (usually before 8.30am) to change their clothes and meet the supervisor, who assigns their job for the day. One day, you may be plastering a wall; another day, you could be tiling. Construction workers tend to go for lunch early (around 11am) because they start early and their jobs are very physical. There is a tea break at around 3pm and the day finishes at 6pm.

Jargon

Cement: Craftsmen use this material when they build walls. Cement is mixed with sand and water to plaster walls.

Trowel: A tool with a flat blade used by craftsmen to spread mortar on bricks or plaster on walls.

Levelling pad: This is created by craftsmen to ensure a wall is of the same thickness. They set up several points on walls or floors using cement, according to the requirements of the job diagram. Then they finish plastering the wall according to these set-up points.

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