It’s rare for Monique Juratovac to spot another female tradesperson. The 21-year-old apprentice from Perth joined a small minority of females who work onsite in residential construction when she unexpectedly switched careers from hairdressing to bricklaying in 2019.
It was a decision that had a fair few people, then and since, question whether she would be capable of the work. But since she is a physical or kinaesthetic learner, Monique says her career has turned out to be the perfect fit.
That’s not to say, however, that her first day on the job wasn’t downright tough.
‘I was moving scaffolding around, dishing out mud, doing labouring work and putting on mixes,’ she recalls. ‘[At the end of it] I was knackered and fell asleep on the couch as soon as I got home! It was good though, knowing I had achieved something. I love the feeling of a hard day’s work.’
Swayed rather than deterred, Monique didn’t look back and was placed to work for bricklayer Luke Anderson (through the ABN Group Training scheme) who was impressed with her potential. Although it took Monique at least two weeks to be able to push a full-mix wheelbarrow (which she soon learnt is much heavier than a barrow of bricks), it wasn’t long before she had built up enough strength to handle the more demanding aspects of the job.
In fact, she says it’s not so much the manual work but accurately setting out a job, and getting the measurements correct and plumb that she finds to be one of the more challenging tasks of the trade (that and understandably the 40-degree days).
With a genuine love of the work and drive to succeed, Monique’s technical aptitude has grown under Luke’s tutelage – her former occupation even giving her an edge in her new role. ‘A lot of the work onsite is putting up straight walls but you still need to make them look good,’ Monique explains, adding she enjoys laying bricks and seeing a home start to take shape.
‘There is a lot of attention to detail and hands-on training in both trades.’