Government see apprenticeships..! Part 1

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To explain this article I feel I must explain, those of you that actually read my little blog, (Thank you mum!) will know I’m never politically motivated, although below is an exchange of emails from a group who did catch the other side of me a little in 2016 as in my humble opinion they had missed the point completely. Yes its taken me till now to put part one of this out here due to my various sabbaticals.

I may be totally wrong and am happy to be corrected if i am but I feel their approach to an apprenticeship shortage was not going to be helped by this idea. However I am pleased to also report locally at least schools are starting to arrange better careers days and involving all aspects of future employers to chat to the young adults allowing them to at least make sensible decisions about their future

The emails I received are in bold, my reply’s are in normal text …


Thank you for taking the time to read this and for supporting Apprenticeships. Endorsed by the Minister and in partnership with The National Apprenticeship Service and The Good Careers Guide (GCG), with whom we work closely, GCG are trialling a campaign in the first two months of 2016 to see if saying Thank You to schools and teachers increases their interest in putting more students forward for apprenticeships.

Full details are at:

They would be delighted if you felt able to ask your current apprentices, or those who have recently completed an apprenticeship with you, to join in. If you have any queries at all, please do get in touch with The Good Careers Guide at xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx or on xxx xxxx xxxx.

Dear ….

As a professional tradesman of a long standing family business and an occasional employer of apprentices I felt perhaps I needed to share some of my experiences. Over time we have had good apprentices from schools and these have either progressed in the trade or found after gaining a qualification in Painting and decorating they choose another career path.

Over the last eight years however I have noticed a decline. Any student with a modicum of intelligence is pushed to strive towards an academic profession whether they want one or not, some want to use their intelligence for practical skills but are discouraged.

Sadly this often leads to various manual trades in construction or the motor industry being left with a poor selection of students who don’t really want to conform to society for one reason or another, hence attempting to teach them anything is a fruitless task. Not saying they are all bad but we have struggled with a percentage of young adults lately that have been given no perception what real life working entails. I speak too many of my peers throughout the Country and also various other trades during the course of my year and they are all saying similar things.

It’s well reported in trade publications and now in the press that there is going to be a serious skill shortage in the coming years as many college training courses are inadequate and expectations of school leavers entering many trades are well below what is required to fill vacancies.

I’m sure some schools and colleges try their best, but many don’t as there is so much pressure put on them to achieve certain pass rates to meet government targets some students simply get left behind, or worse they attend the alternative education centers set up for disruptive pupils.

Somewhere we need a program potential school leavers do come into contact with real trade’s people to discuss what is expected in the real world, they need to be aware that early on the wages will not be great but it will only be through hard work, determination and perseverance that their skills will grow and be rewarded in any reputable business. In time with the correct guidance they may be able to start up their own business.

Sadly today our youth are exposed to the world of z list celebrity, who are thrust into the limelight for their fifteen minute of fame, hence often believe real life can be get rich quick without talent, skills or hard work. I am the one who usually bursts that bubble, government courses for trades people have become a farce dropping from 5 years to 3 years down in some cases to just 12 months, most trades can’t be correctly learned in under 3 years, that’s why many young people come out of school, into skills centres or technical colleges to learn a trade and set up businesses directly after, failing within their first 2 years of business due to lack of experience.

I realise this set out to be a positive post but after personal experiences and having spoken to many other decorators over the weekend at an event it appears somewhere we are failing both our youth and our future of having any properly skilled trade’s persons. If we are not going to become a nation of handy – men, we need to do something now to stop the decline. I am extremely passionate about my trade having had my skill passed down through the generations. If I can help please get back in touch.

Kind regards


Dear Sean,

Quite. That’s been the direction for decades and it’s not going to be easy to change things – though we noticed Nicky Morgan saying some sensible things recently. Change, if we can make it happen, will be slow and made of many small steps.

The way we are trying to change things is to go for the teachers. No-one much says thank you to teachers after they have left school, but they respond to a good thank-you as well as the rest of us. We think that if we can get your apprentices to say nice things to them, they will want to repeat the experience by sending more of their charges in your direction. In any event, we think that it is worth a try.

As an idea for getting the access you talk about, you might arrange a team to redecorate a classroom for free over the holidays or half term on the condition that every child in that class worked with you for at least a day? The community contributing to the school, Schools are thin on cash and likely to stay so – I’d be optimistic about finding a school that would agree. They could take part in the planning beforehand – lots of teaching opportunities there – and have a day working with and talking to a skilled craftsman. As long as you don’t sell it as a careers fair, or let them loose on the electrics!


Dear R

Thank you for your reply, and it’s quite true things have not changed for some many years. Sadly I haven’t been following what Nicky Morgan has been saying, I know she is the Secretary of State for education but that’s about it. Any changes have got to be made from the offset in schools the perception towards learning a trade has to change.

I actually work for a couple of teachers who taught me, and some of the latest generation, on the whole the children do appreciate them. Smaller children or pupils often thank teachers personally or give gifts as them progress through the school life. While older pupils may not realise at that moment in time, but do so in the future and in an area such as ours often have opportunities to meet their teachers as they go about normal life.

Personally again I feel the government needs to value teachers instead of constant pressure of inspections and rearranging how examinations are marked just to juggle figures. Then let the teachers get on with leading our children towards their futures, not what bureaucrats expect.

With regards to working with schools as you mention, this is all very well for the bigger firms, who have apprentices basically as cheap labour. I naturally have interacted with both the local schools and the local college trying to help out where I can, with various projects. Even despite arranging several trade shows for my local college and speaking to many possible apprentices during the course of the day it was very apparent they were not there due to a teacher guiding them, unfortunately many were just there as a last ditch attempt. Even some obviously didn’t want to be there.

So returning to teachers, they have to push many of the pupils to gain highest marks to benefit the school, trade or manual jobs are deemed as beneath an educated person, hence the shortage of skilled workers from pupils than might have decided to follow a manual career, but persuaded to reach higher.

I do not wish just to train the basics to the next generation, I’ll leave that to the substandard colleges and the contracting firms who gain cheap labour but don’t really progress skills. Being only a tiny family firm, we only have one apprentice at any given time and we endeavour to teach them all aspects. Sadly mainly because from school they haven’t been inspired that this may be a worthwhile profession we are always fighting a losing battle.

Your sentiments are a thoughtful gesture but think personally a little misguided as I know many of the apprentices we have tried over the last few years, didn’t appear to gain much out of school, had a poor rapport with the teachers and if I’m honest now regret not paying attention in school so they may have perhaps had better opportunities, at that young age looking at the bigger picture is difficult. One question I ask any apprentices I interview is where you see yourself in five years time. For a sixteen or even eighteen year old it’s a difficult one as many don’t think past next week, again due to how they are educated.

I hope you can tell this is something I am passionate about and trying to work with a major manufacturer to change perception of our trade in particular. As I mentioned your sentiments are valid just perhaps need to broaden your gaze, look at those who left school ten years ago that have made a successful career.

Kind regards



Why wont my water stain go, with Emulsion

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If you have ever had a water leak on your ceiling leaving a brown mark, you’ll know how untidy it can look. Also if you’ve tried to redecorate just by covering it with several coats of Emulsion paint you’ll realize that is not an ideal solution to the problem.

Sadly there are very few water bourne products that will successfully trap and prevent a water mark bleeding through till finished coatings. Traditionally oil based undercoat would be used to seal the stain. There was also products such as Gulttonglass or Stipptick sealers which were faster drying, but unfortunately didnt work best with emulsions.

Nowadays there are various priority stain sealers in brush and spray applications which perform the task very well and enable you to successfully prevent the stains reappearing.

A word of warning ensure the source of the stain has been cured fully first as no stain blocker can actually hold back a persistent water leak


Basic decorating advice intro

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I’m going to do a basic series of common misconceptions and decorating advice posts to assist a home owner who may be attempting to under take painting and decorating themselves, hopefully it may assist them, or at the very least minimize the decorating faux-pas our trade has to correct on a daily basis from well meaning DIY’ers

In one respect its my way of putting a little back from the trade I have worked hard in for over thirty years, even I’m still learning new things every day. From the current increase in water-based products, to changes in fashion from wall paper borders to bright coloured feature walls, the ever growing list of new paints manufacturers invent to fill niche markets,  to the advances in dust free sanding systems there is generally something new happening

Another aspect is perhaps it might encourage an interest within the trade, sadly there will be a shortage of proper time served trades people in the future, not just in painting and decorating but in all trades and with our elderly population slowly increasing, they will need reputable trades people to undertake work in the future. Yes its a shock to the system actually coming to work for the first time after a school enviroment, but providing they are willing to learn, skills taught hands on will stay with them for the rest of their lives and possibly provide them with a rewarding way to earn a living in the future.

So look out for posts #askapainter hashtag or if there is anything decorating related I may be able to answer, feel free to ask a question below, I will try my best to answer within a couple of days.The video that accompanies this post is a bit of light heart fun, mainly jobs that are in progress so you can at least view the variety of work we do.