66-year-old Oamaru builder nailing it

Marcus Brown on the tools at a building site at Weston yesterday. PHOTO: GERARD O’BRIEN
Marcus Brown on the tools at a building site at Weston yesterday. PHOTO: GERARD O’BRIEN
Who said you cannot teach an old dog new tricks?

At 66, Oamaru man Marcus Brown became a qualified builder earlier this year after graduating from being an apprentice.

Mr Brown started as an apprentice at Crosscut Construction and work-based learning provider Building and Construction Industry Training Organisation in October 2021 because he wanted to finish his working life "on a high".

Changing careers at his age came with some challenges — including doing bookwork online — but he eventually got the hang of it.

"For an old bastard, it was a bit tricky at times, as you can imagine, with technology."

He was one of "a couple" of apprentices working for the company.

"They’re still working their way through but I think they’re 18 and 19 respectively so there’s a bit of a contrast."

Balancing the dynamic of being much older than a lot of his more experienced workmates was a bit of a transition, Mr Brown said.

"I’ve had to go right back to the very start.

"I had spent 40 years managing other people so the challenge for me was to be managed.

"I had to keep my mouth shut, keep my head and just work hard."

Luckily for him, being older meant he already had a leg up on his fellow apprentices when it came to work ethic.

"They’re learning about the value of work and how to turn up and so on and so forth, whereas all those life skills I had already."

He enjoyed the variety of the work, but more importantly he loved working with a "good crew of boys".

"I really enjoy the work and I really enjoy the company.

"I think that’s something that you get towards the latter stage of your life — you appreciate the company.

"You couldn’t wish for any more."

His last time in tertiary education was in the United Kingdom where he became a chartered surveyor in 1992.

He had no intention of hanging up the tool belt any time soon.

"If you start sitting in the chair, it becomes difficult to get out of the chair.

"While I’m fit and healthy and keen and there’s work for me, I’ll be happy to do it."

It was never too late for anyone to switch career paths — they just had to want it.

"At any age, if you’ve got a bit of passion and application then you really can achieve most things."