Supporting the next generation of apprentices
Neil Ogilvie, chief executive of the Painting and Decorating Association, started his career in the industry as an apprentice, like many before him. Following this year’s special 40th anniversary Apprentice Decorator of the Year competition, we spoke to Neil to find out what he thinks apprentices bring to the industry and why we should support them.
Apprentices are without doubt the lifeblood of the painting and decorating industry – they bring buckets of enthusiasm as well as different solutions to age-old problems and new challenges alike. Not only that, but as they’ve been brought up using modern products, particularly water-based paints, they’re happy to try their hand at using a new product or mastering a different technique and, what’s more, they seem to take everything in their stride.
With the skills shortage still a very real threat to the construction sector as a whole, it’s never been more important to encourage apprentices to join and stay with the industry now. It’s a trade that will always be needed – no one has managed to devise a robot with the same finesse and skills as a trained decorator, while the demand for painters and decorators continues to grow.
Skills competitions like Crown Paints Apprentice Decorator of the Year and the Painting and Decorating Association’s competition, offer an excellent opportunity for our young apprentices to hone their skills and often also make a name for themselves early on in their careers.
There are lots of opportunities out there for apprentices to take advantage of. In late November this year, Neil, along with two apprentices from Leeds College of Building and who work for the Bagnall Group will be flying out to Slovenia for three days to redecorate an infant children’s school, working with painters and decorators, including other apprentices, from all over Europe. This charity event is run by the Slovenia Chamber of Commerce each to repaint a build in need of support.
I started out on my career as an apprentice straight from leaving school, joining the family business in Wakefield as soon as I qualified. I’m very fortunate now that as part of my role within the PDA I often get the chance to speak to young apprentices at the very start of their career journeys. I always tell them that once they’ve learnt their craft, those skills will never leave them. I’ve always thought of painting and decorating as a ‘finishing trade’ – it’s something which transforms a house into a home.
This year the Painting and Decorating Association celebrates its 125th anniversary and while a lot has changed since 1894, in many respects the craft itself is still the same as it ever was – you need real skill, a steady hand and plenty of patience. Seeing a space transformed offers an incredible sense of satisfaction, that I for one, will never tire of.