Helping to address the UK’s skills shortage, the Dulux Academy in Slough aims to invest in existing professionals as well as attracting new talent. Professional Builder was there at the opening ceremony where Minister of State for Employment Priti Patel officially cut the ribbon.
The new Dulux academy aims to give more than 4,000 decorators and apprentices the chance to upskill each year with new techniques and new ways of working.
On offer is Dulux’s expert advice in applying paints and coverings, and an advanced understanding of the essential principles of colour, design and sustainability. We visited the Academy to see first-hand the learning regime decorators at varying stages of their careers are being put through.
The academy leaves no stone unturned, providing a thorough course on each in a wide variety of subjects. The most striking course we visited was a business and marketing course, where tradespeople were being taught how to promote themselves on social media, using graphics and design software.
This might seem wholly irrelevant to painting and decorating, but every person in that room was fully engaged and to them, the benefits of a brighter online presence were plainly obvious.
What’s more, the Academy delves head-first into colour theory and the ways different colour combinations affect people. It’s perhaps not the easiest thing in the world to master, but it’s definitely the type of thing that could give you the edge over your competition, and it was extremely interesting to boot.
The first ever City & Guilds Level 3 Certificate in Colour, Design and Professional Decorating – a qualification established specifically for Dulux Academy – will also be on offer.
In addition to training existing professionals, the Dulux Academy will train a new generation of painters and decorators, helping to improve standards and address the skills shortage across the industry.
The academy will work with colleges nationwide to provide 350 workplace opportunities for promising students to inspire the next generation of painters and decorators. Tutors at these colleges will also learn about the latest products, methods and design technology to ensure they are passing on the latest skills and techniques to their students.
In the UK, the traditional painting and decorating workforce is ageing and it is an industry where young entrants are declining; with a 39 per cent reduction in construction-based apprenticeships in 2013.
A recent report by the Construction Industry Training Board found that the greatest demand for increased provision of skilled labour was in the interior fit, and painting and decorating sectors.
The government has committed to building one million new homes by 2020, to help tackle the national housing shortage.
However, in a report published at the end of 2014, KPMG found that the training provision in the construction sector needs to be increased by an average of 51 per cent to meet the demand for labour between 2014 and 2017.
Matt Pullen, AkzoNobel’s Managing Director for the UK and Ireland, said:
“We are committed to helping the government to get Britain building but we know a major barrier to achieving that is the shortage of skilled labour. In London and the South East alone there is currently a shortfall of 33,000 painters and decorators.
“The Dulux Academy will foster craft and entrepreneurship and give our industry the authority and professionalism it deserves.
“We are excited to be meeting the challenge of equipping a generation of skilled labourers, significantly increasing industry capacity to build, fit and finish houses in the UK.”
Meanwhile Vickie Mather, Dulux Academy Manager, added:
“A dedicated facility specifically for painters and decorators is what the trade has been missing and so it will be good news for professionals that the Dulux Academy not only addresses current skills gaps within the industry, but will also become a life-long learning partner throughout a decorator’s career.
“The core curriculum is designed to help them effectively build their business with accredited training courses that they can also offer to their employees, ensuring they can offer the best services for their customers.”
All in all, what the Dulux academy aims to achieve is genuinely impressive. It was invigorating to see first-hand the coming together of seasoned professionals and budding painters still at college in order to plug the skills gap that threatens to engulf the industry. There were many highlights at the academy, but getting to meet Herbert the Dulux dog is the one I’ll never forget.