“Is reality” they say and my experience with teen and early twenty year old students supports that.

Image of a student cutting 55mm cove cornice in a mitre box on a bench set up using planks and trestles

Working out which mitre to cut.


A face 20 years of age stares back at me across a workbench, young wrinkle free and bright-eyed but with an expression as many times before, confirmation of that saying.

An issue, problem, or technical decision comes up.   The expression, one of disappointment/bewilderment appears which is associated with evasion tactics and behaviours, usually followed by a statement,  “Why do we have to do theory anyway?” or “Why does it all have to be so hard?”

“Define hard” I ask.

Is that, requires:

  • effort?
  • thought?
  • time?
  • patients?
  • practice?
  • perseverance?

Frown appears on face, followed by a disappearing student usually for a cigarette outside.  A common scene during apprentice wall and ceiling lining training and other trade too I suspect.

May be years of school and using these method to avoid responsibility and work are to blame, may be not.  Whatever it is, surely there must be people in the wall & ceiling Industry that want to be there.  I have seen a few, though they mainly emerged at towards the end of their training when the realisation that they were going to be in charge and responsible for their work, mortgage, children and life finally hits home.

Almost 50% of trainees don’t seem to think that being paid to learn is worth it.  When asked directly why, responses are very similar.

They don’t give it a thought at all!  They don’t think of it as learning! We don’t get paid much!  It is not what we do at work!

The training must be at fault, right?

How can we change the perception of trade apprentices in the Wall & Ceiling Lining Industries that their trade training is learning?

  • Tell them with details, why they are doing what they are doing.
  • Relate it directly to work, the workplace and their personal experience.
  • Use Authentic projects and exercises that they have some control over creating.
  • Use scenarios with tools needed to successfully interpret & work out a plan of action.
  • Assess them using peer & self assessment, group reflection & guidance to competency.
  • Give them proper structured feedback with respect on their progress or status.
  • Provide the opportunity to give you feedback on how you performed.
  • Act on the feedback to adjust and improve the training & delivery of that unit.


An image of an income & Expenses list to calculate hourly rate

Very basic cash projections for a tradesperson

So far my efforts have shown signs of improvement and for the first year apprentices skills have increased in basic Fix and Flushing areas.

“WIN WIN”  This supplies a boost to their confidence and provides a value add to their employers who can trust them to undertake work at industry standard sooner.  It makes them more productive and cost-effective which gives them more opportunities to excel, so everybody wins.

Peer & Self Assessment.  Peer-SelfBothAssessment

Using the double-sided form (link above) which allows for a grade and comments by the student and the peer, the grades given are consistent with past assessments, in that they all graded themselves down harder and their peers all graded them almost always as I have graded them slightly higher than the self assessment grade.


A small shift in methods and approach to the issues of “Confidence and Perception” is starting to improve the satisfaction levels of both Student and Lecturer.   Fingers crossed and looking to the future, may be even more young tradespeople who realise that getting paid, even badly at first to learn is worth the effort.

University graduates have years of learning, get a qualification and have a Hex debt to pay back that apprentices don’t.  That has to be worth thinking about too.  Cheers

About wallandceiling

I currently design, create and administer over 180 Moodle online courses as part of a project in tafeSA with the BJIT Business Services Team. This project has highlighted a need for training in Moodle and how to implement and maintain courses online. I have been a lecturer in Wall & Ceiling Lining (Drywall for Americans) in Adelaide South Australia involved in the CPSISC validation of the CPC08 National Training packages and the CBA Program to build capacity in assessment through the use of Action Learning and Assessment for Learning principles.
This entry was posted in apprentices, CB-A, tafeSA, Training, Wall & Ceiling Lining and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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