When it comes to education and training we don’t know how lucky we are in this country.
If you want to become a decorator in America you have to find yourself a company who will take you on with no experience and then hope that they have some kind of training program and also that they do a range of work so that you can build your skills. This is unlikely so you will end up good at one or two things and not have experience of the full skill set.
I have been teaching Painting and decorating since 1992 so I have had a lot of experience with what an apprentice learns when at college and also how the workplace has changed over the years with regards to the apprenticeship.
An apprentice will usually spend 3 years at a local decorating company learning their trade, one day a week they will go to college. For the first two years they will gain their level 2 qualification and then in their third year they will do their level 3.
When they do their level 2 they will learn a whole range of skills from preparation to painting. Wallpapering, ceilings walls, window reveals, chimney breasts etc. They also learn how to spray and will use the HVLP spraying system to spray doors and smaller woodwork.
Once on the level 3 they will learn how to carry out specialists finishes such as gilding and marbling. They will also hang wide vinyl to various areas and start using an airless sprayer to spray emulsion on both ceiling and walls.
Depending on the company that the apprentice works for they will also get to carry out these skills at work. Some companies these days do a lot of spraying so they will get some real site experience to carry out what they have learned at college and see how it’s “really done”. It’s a bit like learning to drive, your driving instructor shows you the correct method and then once you pass your test and drive on your own you will develop your own driving style.
Some companies are traditional decorators and the apprentice may be lucky enough to do some wallpapering and maybe even some wide vinyl. This is more unusual in fairness but it does happen.
Once a decorator comes out of his or her time then they may find after a few years that they want to update their skills or even diversify a little. There are not many options open to the decorator who wants to update their skills. They can go back to “night school” but these are quite expensive (Thousands).
They can go to a private training company who will up skill you in whatever skill you are interested in. These offer good quality training and in some cases even offer a City and Guilds qualification at the end of the course.
This is where we at PaintTech Training Academy provide a valuable service to the trade.
When I first started teaching most of the apprentices worked for midsized companies who carried out a range of decorating work.
These were ideal for the students because they got chance to do all the things they had learned at college when they were at work.
These days things have changed and most of the students come from smaller companies or they may work for their Dad. One or two come from really large companies such as Novus.
The smaller companies will tend to do small jobs and this does not give the apprentices the experience of working on a “big job” with lots of other decorators and trades. The really large companies will tend to have the apprentice doing low level routine work. One student for example spent most of his days washing down plastic gutters and fascias. Not really useful for their development.
The good thing is that they will still learn the full range of skills when in college so that at least they know the process of how to wallpaper and spray even though they have never done it at work.