It allows students to replicate a full-sized house, giving
more on-site experience to a real scale instead of small models
Building Industry Skills Centre (MBISC) is a specialist centre,
rather than a campus, located at Ingleburn. But that doesn't mean it
doesn't still buzz with a great TAFE campus type of vibe.
The main feature of MBISC (easier to call it that) is a huge space
the size of an aeroplane hangar where carpentry apprentices construct
wooden house frames and roof trusses as part of their training. This
area is so vast that several classes were simultaneously in full swing
when we visited, each comfortably occupying different parts of the
space. There were lots of scaffolding around the edges and rows of
construction benches down one side with hand and power tools.
Safety is a very important priority at MBISC and anyone not actually
involved in a class is required to remain behind the painted lines on
the concrete floor. We stood back and watched a Certificate
III Carpentry class assemble a wooden house frame literally from
the floor up. These apprentices mostly have full-time jobs with
construction companies in the local area (and beyond) so their
collective hands-on experience outside of the Centre meant that this
wooden frame seemed to come together almost effortlessly. It was like
watching people with giant Lego pieces.
Tim Oxley, Head Teacher of Carpentry, explained that the beauty of
the MBISC is that it allows students to replicate a full-sized house,
giving more on-site experience to a real scale instead of small
models. "Although these days most building work is on concrete
slabs, rather than on pillars," he said. "It's mostly
pre-fab, where the frames are made off-site."
We spoke to Nathan, a second year apprentice who lives in the
Southern Highlands and commutes once a week to MBISC. Nathan told us
that he originally didn't even see himself learning a trade and was,
in fact, thinking of going to university to study sports science. So
what got him into carpentry instead?
"I did some labouring work during my gap year and liked it so
much I decided that's what I wanted to do," he told us. "It
was some landscaping and also some work with my Dad, who's an electrician."
So, no plans of following in his father's footsteps and becoming a sparkie?
"I used to, but I really like the creative side of building and
carpentry," he said. "Once I have my builder's licence I'd
like to study architecture. A lot of architects have these great ideas
but they just don't have the practical knowhow to turn their designs
into something real and tangible."
Tim Oxley also told us that the facilities at MBISC inspire a strong
sense of teamwork, since the students are often working together in a
practical and cooperative way rather than sitting behind individual
desks in a classroom. Some students have even formed partnerships with
each other and are now running successful businesses together. This is
something that Nathan is already thinking about himself, with ultimate
plans of having his own business up and running so that he can move on
to full-time study. "It's not much fun to be running a new
business and studying at the same time," he said. He probably has
All up, MBISC is an amazing facility for giving construction
apprentices the valuable practical training that can usually only be
acquired from working on actual building sites.