The Irony of Success
“It really is an irony; a surprise to me that I did this course when I look back at what I had thought while at uni.” – Marco Carusi, former bricklaying apprentice from Melbourne Polytechnic.
As a politics and history arts degree student at LaTrobe University in the1980s, Epping resident Marco Carusi had no idea what he wanted to do.
But when he graduated in 1989, following in his father's footsteps as a bricklayer was the furthest thing from his mind.
Certainly, he had helped his father, Alvaro, during weekends and school holidays in his teenage years to lay out a few bricks, but 'never in a million years did I want to be a bricklayer,' Marco said.
Now, the 39-year-old has just taken out a major award as the Master Builders' Association of Victoria Best Bricklaying Apprentice in the state, winning a couple of hundred dollars worth of equipment for his trade.
Marco completed his three-year apprenticeship in December last year after attending Melbourne Polytechnic for his formal training and also received Melbourne Polytechnic Best Third Year Apprentice as well as Best Apprentice in Bricklaying over the entire course.
'It really is an irony; a surprise to me that I did this course when I look back at what I had thought while at uni,' Marco said.
'Back then, I thought bricklaying was about slapping on some bricks and now I know just how ignorant about the trade I was.
'I'm absolutely so happy to win these awards and quite surpirsed too as I didn't think I was that good to get these awards.'
Certainly, he knows he always does a professional job and being a mature-age apprentice meant he was probably more dedicated and disciplined than other younger appprentices who weren't always that focused on their training.
Indeed, Marco is also happy with the choice he made to do his apprenticeship, albeit via a circuitous path whereby he has also worked as a deputy-registrar for the Magistrates' Court for over 10 years since finishing his university studies. He still worked for the court system part-time while he undertook his apprenticeship and is employed on a two day basis now as he works as a bricklayer.
'I'm very proud of what I've achieved and the awards are a real tribute to my father who took me on as an apprentice and was a fine teacher and mentor throughout my training. There's some sense of sadness because he passed away in February this year.'
Marco turned to bricklaying after initially enrolling for a Diploma of Building Design & Drafting at NMIT in 1997 and after three years of part-time study, realised he would be a much better builder and draftsperson if he had hands-on experience on a building site.
He approached his father for some part-time work in bricklaying after abandoning the work several years earlier but had no thought of doing an apprenticeship.
'I really enjoyed the mix between the physical nature of bricklaying and the fact it was outdoors with the more sedentary role as a deputy-registrar.
'I worked both jobs for 18 months until I realised I should be doing an apprenticeship to learn the trade more professionally and get a formal qualification so enrolled at Melbourne Polytechnic and my father took me on as an apprentice. I actually want to be a builder/bricklayer and am also now studying at Melbourne Polytechnic for a builder's registration course.'
Marco is also completing his Diploma of Building Design & Drafting.
He now works three days a week in his own business as a bricklayer, including on Saturdays, as well as still working as a deputy-registrar two days a week.
He added he still enjoyed the balance of working in the two jobs and said he thought people were under a misapprehension about what bricklaying involved.
'A lot of people think you're a bit of a blockhead and gung-ho, but it's a job you've got to think about and it's far more involved than just slapping on bricks.'
Looking back at his own attitude more than 10 years ago, Marco said he realised how ignorant he had been about being a brickie too.
'I am surprised at what I'm doing now but really enjoying it all. I'm now challenged by the thought of having my own business as a builder.'
Certificate III in Bricklaying Blocklaying