Masonry is a wide field that involve people working with building stones, cement,mortar concrete,grout(for filling spaces between tiles), and steel.In terms of the work they do, Masons constructs,maintains and repairs surfaces and structures.In our discussion here we are going to sink our teeth in masonry work dealing with construction of foundations and the walls of structures using Bricks, building stones, concrete blocks and many other acceptable building materials. In local parlance,a Mason is often referred to as a fundi or Ufundi. Masons are trained and skilled people who are hired by the contractors .
Training involve pursuing apprenticeship with an experienced Mason where one starts as laborer or Mason assistant.Alternatively one could begin by enrolling in a masonry certificate program in a college.Many middle level colleges in Kenya offer courses in Masonry (building & construction).The entry level course is Masonry Artisan , followed by Masonry grade-3. Trainees can still further their training to Masonry grade-2 and finally Masonry grade-1.A trainee who possess grade 3 certificate qualifies to join grade 2 and those with Grade 2 certificate qualify to join grade 1 training course. And the fee charged is virtually friendly to the pockets of many ordinary Kenyans. With the biting shortage of Masons in Kenya, any trainee who passes the examination is guaranteed to get employment easily.
Colleges offering Masonry courses in Kenya include:
- ,National Industrial Vocational Training center-Nairobi
- Rift valley Institute of Science and Technology(RVIST)-Nakuru
- Ramogi Institute of Technology-Kisumu
- Kirinyaga Technical Institute-Kerugoya
- Mombasa Institute of Technology-Mombasa
- Bushiangala Technical Training Institute-Kakamega
- Rwika Institute of Technology-Embu
- Kabete Technical Training institute-Nairobi.
- Any many others, you name them.
Besides the technical building and constructions skills, a Mason must be able to accurately evaluate the cost of his masonry services and building materials.
Secondly the mason should be able to read construction drawings and follow structural plans and safety regulation.
Last but not least he should understand the role of each player in a building and construction project.
Each contractor works with his preferred Masons , from one project to the next one. Masons in turn rely on unskilled laborer commonly called watu wa mukono (Swahili for un-skilled/semi-skilled hourly laborers) to do the heavy lifting and digging involved in construction work .In other words ,watu wa mukono to the donkey work at construction sites.Most Masons in Kenya are paid daily wage just like the hourly laborers.
Like in many parts of the world there is a shortage of Masons in Kenya . This is because many young people prefer white collar jobs,thinking that these jobs pay better than Masonry. But this is not entirely true because the compensation for their service is competitive and often-times Mason end up as Mason Contractors .This is the kind of this information need to reach many youths in this country. The good news is that the government in collaboration with Germany embassy in Nairobi has launched training and up-skilling program to arrest the shortage problem before it blow in our faces.
Other organization that are working to create sustainable supply of masons in the county are National Construction Authority (NCA) training initiative,Space & Style limited ‘s Fundi maalum program and REX roofing system ltd ‘s training of roofers.