Training world champion decorators
As our ten finalists complete their final preparations ahead of this year’s Apprentice Decorator of the Year competition, we caught up with Mike Swan, WorldSkills UK Training Manager. He’ll be watching the apprentices closely to see how well they cope under the pressure of the competition with a view to selecting the best of the best for the WorldSkills UK squad. Here he explains what happens next.
You might be surprised to learn that in preparation for the global WorldSkills competition, held every two years, we put the UK’s top apprentice decorators through some of the same intensive training as Olympic athletes to make sure that they’re ready physically and mentally for the challenge.
In fact, the WorldSkills event, which has been running since the 1950s, is heavily influenced by the Olympic games. Seb Coe once said something which has always stuck with me; it would be possible to have the WorldSkills event without the Olympics but it would be impossible to have the Olympics without the vital trades which we celebrate through WorldSkills. It’s very true and we should certainly be proud of our industry and especially our talented young apprentices who are so important to the future of the trade.
I’ve been involved with WorldSkills UK for the best part of 15 years and during that time I’ve had the privilege of training so many talented apprentices, putting them through their paces ahead of each WorldSkills event.
The WorldSkills UK squad is comprised of the best young apprentice painters and decorators in the country, with their performance at Crown Paint’s Apprentice Decorator of the Year a key deciding factor for who makes the team. The squad has to complete hours of training at Loughborough University, undergoing the same training programme as Olympic level athletes – with advice on nutrition and psychology given on top of fitness and stamina training to enable apprentices to hold their nerve for the gruelling four-day competition with six hour stints each day. That’s all on top of work to hone their decorating skills to make sure they are on point for the competition. This year’s ADY competitors have a long journey ahead of them before the next WorldSkills event in 2021 in Shanghai, China.
This year was a WorldSkills year, with Russia hosting the final in July, and our UK competitor and former Apprentice Decorator of the Year finalist, Callum Bonner was awarded a Medallion of Excellence. He also won the speed test, so he can say he’s the fastest painter in the world – quite an accolade!
I never cease to be amazed by the time and dedication the apprentices put into their training which is all done while they continue to work and study full time too. Whatever challenges await them in their career afterwards you can guarantee that they’ll tackle them head on and succeed.