CATCHING UP WITH THE 2019 APPRENTICE DECORATOR OF THE YEAR FINALISTS
It’s fair to say that this year hasn’t gone the way many of us expected it to, and it’s with a heavy heart that the Apprentice Decorator of the Year competition has had to be put on hold for the foreseeable future due to the restrictions in place.
While we won’t be seeing a new set of apprentices compete for their chance to be named Apprentice Decorator of the Year this year, we thought it’d be the perfect opportunity to catch up with last year’s three finalists – Gatis, Lewis and Abi – to see what they’ve been up to over the last 12 months, and how taking part in the competition has positively impacted them.
Gatis Celmins, 2019 gold medallist
Looking back at last year’s Apprentice Decorator of the Year competition, I feel proud of my achievements and I’m so glad I had the opportunity to take part. It was an amazing and unforgettable experience, and I’ve definitely benefited from being named Apprentice Decorator of the Year – people in the industry now recognise my name.
I would recommend taking part in the competition to apprentices in the future, as it’s a fantastic opportunity to test your skills and gain valuable experience. It’s also a great way to make new friends from across the UK!
Since the Apprentice Decorator of the Year final last year, I’ve been very busy with work: I’ve passed my skills test, and I’m now a qualified tradesman. The pandemic of course affected me and I wasn’t able to work for a couple of months, but thankfully I was one of the first to return when it was safe to do so. I’d like to thank my lecturers at Inverness College and the team at Bell Group for their support during Apprentice Decorator of the Year, and also for keeping me informed with the latest news and changes throughout the pandemic as well as preparing me for a safe return to work.
Lewis Metcalfe, 2019 silver medallist
Looking back on all the competitions I entered during my apprenticeship, including Apprentice Decorator of the Year, I am so glad I took part. Being an Apprentice Decorator of the Year finalist has really benefitted me: it’s helped me to become more comfortable working around new people and in larger groups, and it’s pushed me to go further and want to do better. I would highly recommend the competition to other apprentices – it’s a great way to be recognised for your skills and can open so many doors for your career.
I still can’t believe that I came second in the UK and now I’m training with the UK team towards WorldSkills which is such an honour. Because of this, I’ve been to Scotland for training with the UK team in preparation for Shanghai, and I’ve also visited Loughborough for team building exercises including getting to know all the other competitors, training managers and wellbeing coaches. The main impact of the pandemic for me is that it’s meant EuroSkills and WorldSkills haven’t been able to go ahead.
Thankfully, Bagnalls has helped me throughout this time by getting me back to work as quickly and safely as possible. Being an apprentice at Bagnalls has really helped me to learn and develop my painting craft skills, and the company supported my training and development and pushed me to enter apprentice competitions as they saw talent that I probably didn’t! Now I know that the competitions, the support and my apprenticeship have all helped me achieve what I have and I am very grateful.
Abi Johnson, 2019 bronze medallist
Apprentice Decorator of the Year was a great experience – I actually enjoyed the pressure of the competition and the complexity of the tasks. It’s a great platform for apprentice decorators to show their skills and I would advise any young apprentice to give it a go. Taking part looks great on your CV and it helps to refine your skills, which can only be a good thing!
Being an Apprentice Decorator of the Year finalist has raised my profile in the industry, which meant that when my apprenticeship finished, I was able to gain employment with Bagnalls. The pandemic has impacted everyone I know and I am so grateful to still be in work – of course there are additional safety measures now in place to protect ourselves and others. I’m also very grateful to Bagnalls for keeping in touch throughout, with my manager sending emails with information on a few things including mental health – I really appreciated this regular communication.
Following the Apprentice Decorator of the Year final, I was privileged enough to go to Slovenia to work on a community project for the Painting and Decorating Association (PDA) – a brilliant experience that I wouldn’t have had the opportunity to do if I wasn’t one of the finalists in the competition. Another standout project I’ve worked on since the competition was for Bingley Council, and whilst I was on the job a few of the councillors came to talk to me which was really interesting. They seemed delighted with the work we had done which was great feedback.
Having a trade will always stand me in good stead for the future, and I have never regretted doing an apprenticeship in painting and decorating as it opened up so many avenues for me. Taking part in Apprentice Decorator of the Year challenged me and although I was nervous at times, it has really helped me improve my skills. I have worked hard to become a craft painter and decorator and look forward to being involved in some exciting new projects in 2021.
Have you been inspired to take part in Apprentice Decorator of the Year? Keep up to date with the latest news on the competition on our Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. Find out more about the competition at https://www.crowntrade.co.uk/skills-training/.